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Killzone 3 creates magical moments of technological greatness. Electronic engineering and peripheral design work together wonderfully, but beyond the gadgetry there isn't quite enough videogame.
I was looking forward to Killzone 3, I needed a nice solid PS3 exclusive shooter for my 3DTV. While donning my 3D specs, it only seemed appropriate to try the motion sensing technology of the Move controller as well. I rounded the whole ensemble off with the Sharpshooter plastic machine gun.
Before even starting to play I was impressed at the technology and design of the Move gun. The Move extension port connects to the holster so it can cleverly distribute the buttons. There is a satisfying set of clicks as you load the Move controller into the barrel and the Direction controller into the handgrip - like kiting up sections of a classic action movie like Commando.
I was tempted to complete the shooting range look with a set of headphones but I thought that would just make me look too silly. With a plastic gun with a glowing red ball on the end and a giant set of active 3D dark glasses I was in danger of over doing it (ed: you think?).
Eager to start I was a little hampered by the fiddly Move calibration. It was difficult to get the controller shooting exactly where I was pointing. Eventually, having also calibrated in the Move in the XMB, I managed to get a set up where the cursor was not that far off the sights. A bit frustrating, but that's what us early adopters have to get used to.
The opening campaign training level (which follows very nice and dramatic cut scenes) drops you straight in a military suit with a wonderful 3D HUD. I felt immersed, and intrigued as to how this multi layer HUD was going to be used.
My Buddy set off and I had to follow him. It was at that point I suddenly felt let down. The NPC set off in the fantastic rendered 3D environment but seemed to have his legs animated at a different speed to his forward movement. When he got to stairs it was even worse. Legs and steps seemed disconnected. Here I was kitted up for a great adventure and watching some terrible animation.
Getting the flow of aiming movements and thumb stick sidestep required a calmness under pressure.
These quibbles were soon forgot this in the confusing mist of the Move control mechanism. It mentally hurt moving from mouse and keys to a joypad and it felt like that transition all over again. Controlling left and right by pointing, movement with the left hand thumb stick was very different to a joypad.
The problem with this mechanism is that pointing the gun for shooting eventually hits the edge of the screen and triggers a movement as the camera assumes you want to turn or look up and down.
Tweaking the dead zone in the options, setting it to maximum, meant the screen stayed static most of the time but I had to be right on the edges of the screen to scroll. I ended up setting it to zero and locking aiming and movement into one action.
I gave up on the single player campaign and launched into bot based warfare. This was incredibly satisfying. I was advancing forward through the smokey, fallout ridden environments in a full 3D effect that was the most subtle and least disorientating I have so far tried.
Getting the flow of aiming movements and thumb stick sidestep required a calmness under pressure. Tense up, get flustered and you will be looking at the floor or ceiling and waiting for a medic.
I had to get back into the comfort zone and use just the joypad.
Sure, it's not an ideal control method for suddenly spinning around, or close quarters, but advancing with your bots on a position, taking cover and reloading with a satisfying pump action on the plastic gun is something new and special.
Eventually I had to admit that despite the physical cues of holding a weapon and aiming and firing with a real trigger, the Move controls had a muggy disconnect from the game for me. I wanted to be able to just point the gun at any area of the screen and use the thumb stick to turn.
I had to get back into the comfort zone and use just the joypad to play the single player campaign. This was mental comfort and also physical comfort. Holding the real gun in position was painful after a while.
As I made my way through the destroyed city I want the levels to challenge me more. I wanted the run and gun elements to evoke something greater than Gears of War and the vehicle dashes to trump Halo's. But beyond the technology I struggled to be impressed.
Even for a tech obsessive like me, the great visuals and sound design couldn't hide mediocre narrative and level design. With so much kit this could have been so much more. But at least I got a cool plastic gun out of it.
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