Matthew Roszak

In The Press Blog

Killzone 3 with Move controller: a novel but not brilliant gaming experience

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| Dean Takahashi

Sony’s newly launched Killzone 3 video game for the PlayStation 3 promised to be a big step up in first-person shooting sci-fi combat. You can play the game in stereoscopic 3D and use the PlayStation Move motion-sensing controller for more immersive realism. But while those elements make the game experience innovative, they don’t make up for shortcomings elsewhere.

That’s a pity because Killzone 3 promised to be one of Sony’s great games for 2011, with enough potential to help swing the console war ever so slightly in Sony’s favor. And if the motion-sensing technology worked perfectly, Sony could have introduced hardcore gamers to a truly next-generation experience in first-person combat and thereby carved out an important technological leadership role for its console in the process.

The game is important because it is the first real hardcore game to exploit Sony’s Move controller, which has been outsold by Microsoft’s more casual Kinect motion-sensing system for the Xbox 360. There are dozens of game publishers and developers working on Move-related games, all of them hoping that they can create a Move game with mass appeal among hardcore and casual gamers alike. If they succeed, the PlayStation Move can become a critical part of the PlayStation economy. But if they fail, then the Move could suffer the same inevitable decline that many accessories do after their initial splash in the market. If that happens, both Nintendo and Microsoft would breathe a sigh of relief, as they’re targeting gamers who have more casual tastes.

Playing with the wand-like Move and its companion left-hand navigation device is merely a good experience, not a fantastic one. And while the motion-sensing Move and the non-stop combat won’t make you sick, the story of the otherwise-epic sci-fi combat game is very hard to stomach. I suspect that the weak story is the reason Killzone 3 received a lukewarm rating of 84 out of 100 on Metacritic, a review score aggregator. By comparison, the ground-breaking Killzone 2 received an average review score of 91 out of 100 back in 2009. At the time, I considered Killzone 2 to be the best game on the PlayStation 3, before the even-better Uncharted 2: Among Thieves game came out.

That’s why I’m disappointed to give Killzone 3 a score of 84 out of 100. It seems that developer Guerrilla Games, a subsidiary of Sony, tried to push Killzone 3 out too fast, just a year after the debut of the previous game, which took more than four years to develop. It has become fashionable for game publishers to take their biggest hits and churn out game after game, but in this case it seems to have hurt the brand. This could easily have been a 90-plus-rated game.

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