It’s official. Sony’s new motion controls have been unveiled and they’re superior to the Wii’s. How could I say something like this? I’m a Sony fanboy, you declare? Here are the facts: the controllers have less buttons (good for new gamers), chargeable batteries right out of the box, they’re more accurate even when pointed away from the TV, and did I mention they’re wireless? Oh, and they have color changing balls on the tips, and who doesn’t love colorful balls? Colorblind Nazis, that’s who.
But this isn’t a post written by a Sony fanboy (though, should a Sony bigwig read this and decide to toss some Move my way, I’m easy to convince. Very easy. Seriously, I’m an extraordinarily slutty games journalist void of any integrity.) Instead, this is merely a discussion on possible exciting ways the genre could make full use of the Move, Natal, and while we’re on the subject of new tech, we’ll even talk about 3D. Afterwards you can trot on over to the comments section and tell me what I forgot.
We already know what some of the games that will be supporting the PlayStation Move are, including LittleBigPlanet and SOCOM 4, as well as a handful of brand new launch titles like Motion Fighter and Slider. But what about horror games? The Wii has been getting a plethora of exclusive horror games like Ju-On: The Grudge, Cursed Mountain, Dead Space: Extraction, House of the Dead: Overkill, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, and a multitude of Resident Evil ports and rail shooters.
Granted, roughly half of those are light gun games that are really only on Nintendo’s console because of the Wiimote (off topic: why did ‘Wiimote’ never become the official name for Nintendo’s controller? It’s so awesome. Moving on.) The rest are there simply because of the Wii’s success, something that for the most part, really hasn’t translated to third party software success. The worst part about all this is that few of these games have managed to actually use the motion controls in innovative and interesting ways. Wasn’t that the whole point of the ‘Motion Control Revolution?’ To give us a new way to play our games? Outside of first party titles, very few have delivered on their promises.
But the point of this is not to attack the Wii, I think Nintendo did an astounding job of finding an untapped audience of soccer moms and retirees to play family friendly games like Wii Play and Wii Sports. Most likely, a large majority of Move’s focus will be invested in making sure Nintendo’s newly acquired audience knows they can get a similar, if not better, experience on the PlayStation 3. The same thing goes for Microsoft’s Natal, which will do many of the same things just in a very different way.
In my opinion developers had their chance to create a unique horror experience on the Wii, but (again, this is my opinion, as is everything in this article) there isn’t a single must-have horror game on the console. The PS3 and Xbox 360 have the chance to do what I expected developers to do with the Wii: to create a one-of-a-kind terrifying experience using the motion controls, and here are some ways for them to do just that.
There are a myriad games I want to see support Sony’s motion control technology, but here are the horror games that better add some support ASAP:
There’s already a boxing game announced for Move (called Motion Fighter), so, assuming it doesn’t suck, why not transfer that awesome right hook, left jab, uppercut action to one of my favorite new franchises? I imagine holding a controller in each trembling hand, nervously walking the empty streets until, suddenly, a crazy hobo jumps out of a darkened alleyway and starts getting all up in my stuff. Did he want to borrow some gum? Teach me the virtues of vegetarianism? I don’t care; I’m of the kick ass first and ask questions later philosophy so I quickly knock that smelly motherfucker out with a series of well-placed punches. You could try imagining this same scenario on the Wii but to do so you’d have to keep your hands close together because of the wire, and everything would be pixilated. Not fun.
EA did an amazing job of bringing hot and steamy Strategic Dismemberment to the Wii with Extraction, but in the end it was held back by the console’s technical limitations and the fact that it was an on-rails shooter. Now I’ll ask you to envision playing Dead Space in crisp 1080p with shit-your-pants-because-it’s-so-awesome sound. Throw in a friend to share the pants-shitting excitement with and you have yourself a messy party. I’m pretty sure Dead Space 2 won’t be supporting the motion controls, though it’s possible they just haven’t unveiled it yet.
Let’s forget the Umbrella or Darkside Chronicles exist for a second so we can better picture Resident Evil 6 with zombies, zombie dogs jumping out of windows, scarce ammo, and motion controls. In this fantasy you can strafe, because standing still to shoot is a damn stupid idea, and Chris doesn’t look like he’s been pumping steroids in between sequels. Hell, let’s just get rid of Chris and bring in Jill. The old Jill, not that skanky, teen boy pleasing, Dead or Alive wannabe Jill; the old Jill from the original Resident Evil. No more non-zombies, now we’re back to real zombies that can only be slain by a shot to the brain or by severing their spinal column. More importantly, these zombies can’t wield guns; instead their goal is to overtake you with sheer numbers. Oh yeah, and there are motion controls.
One of the more difficult, and easily one of the most unique new horror games is Siren, which recently got a next-gen reboot (called Siren: Blood Curse) that I have yet to get my hands on. The most innovative feature in Siren is Sight Jack, which grants you the ability to tune in to the eyes of the NPCs surrounding you. I just like the idea of waving around the Move controller like a madman until I find the right frequency, but I’m sure there are better ways to implement motion controls into this series that I’m just not clever enough to come up with.
Heavy Rain and Move are a perfect match, the button mashing sequences feel completely unnatural in the game anyways, so why not make us perform the moves we need to in the game. In the very least it would’ve made shaving less of a pain in the ass and I’m pretty sure most gamers would rather act out walking up a hill instead of holding down three buttons to do it. But hey, that’s just one person’s view.
Doom 3 was a bit of a let down, and while news on the currently in production fourth installment is practically nonexistent, flashlights play an important role in the multitudes of cheap scares found in the game. Hopefully, Doom 4 won’t rely so heavily on things jumping out of the shadows and monster closets, but in the very least I like the idea of duel wielding a gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other. Hell, we could even be realistic and attach the flashlight to the gun. F.E.A.R. is similar to Doom in a lot of ways, mainly the scare tactics they share, so whatever motion controls Doom implements will most probably work for F.E.A.R. Or maybe not, who knows.
Microsoft has the same goal as Sony, to tap in to Nintendo’s audience and steal from them a preferably bigger share than Sony does. They also have an arguably larger hardcore fanbase, built up by exclusive hits like Halo and Gears of War as well as the superior Xbox Live service. Move is essentially more refined and improved Wii controls in HD. Natal is a motion-tracking device, but it does so in a very different way. There isn’t a controller, instead you perform the actions physically. The Wii tried, and failed, to get my lazy ass off the couch when I realized I could bowl while in a sitting position. With Natal, it looks like I might actually crawl out from under my mountain of cheetos and move.
The future of horror on Sony’s console is a bit easier to foresee, with Natal the future is a little more unknown, but in an exciting way. Natal can do anything Move can with the games I mentioned above, and more. Instead of merely lowering the Move’s wand to pick up a First Aid Spray, with Natal you might have to bend down an perform the action, and to jump you might have to really jump. If an enemy is trying to take off your head with an axe, your reflexes will most likely end up playing a much larger role in surviving future horror titles. On paper this doesn’t necessarily sound exciting, but for a genre that relies on a player’s ability to stay immersed and retain their suspension of disbelief, this could make horror games infinitely more terrifying.
Motion controls are this generation’s biggest evolution and though it’s still a while from becoming popular, 3D looks to be the next big thing. Motion controls give us a deeper role in the games we play, and 3D may very well be the last major milestone before full on virtual reality. 3D gaming wasn’t terribly significant until last year’s CES, where all the major electronics companies were showing off the goods, and It’s safe to say the tech is on its way to becoming the next must-have new tech for serious gamers, and hopefully casual ones as well (maybe the Wii 2 will manage that?)
It’s still a ways off, but I see 3D gaming doing the same thing that 3D films do: upping the immersion factor. It probably won’t do much else than making the games we play more interesting to watch and explore, and with horror games, seeing things jumping out at you a bit will definitely make them more thrilling.
Oh yeah, get ready to plug your noses because if 3D gaming isn’t the last step before virtual reality then this just has to be. We’re already performing the actions as if we were in the game thanks to Natal and Move, and we already feel as if we’re in the game thanks to 3D gaming, why not complete the illusion by having us smell the scents of the world we’re playing in? Theaters across the world do it to mixed results, so I think gaming should too. The only problem with this? I think horror games would become much less popular thanks to their abundance of death and zombies. Do you want to experience a zombie’s aroma? Probably not.
For those who don’t understand what this is, that only means you aren’t quite as nerdy as I am, and that’s a good thing. Basically, it’s an easy way for me to slap an identity on a future device that would completely immerse us in a video game by making our mind think it’s in the virtual world. It’s like having Second Life inside your head, wait, that sounds like some cruel form of torture, I meant it’s like having PS Home inside your… err, wait. It’s like having a fun virtual world inside your head. There.
So out of all the tech, gadgets, and geekery discussed above, what has you excited? Does any of it tickle your fancy, or do you want it all to go away so you can enjoy your video games in two dimensional, unscented peace?