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Killzowned in Toronto – KZ3 Canadian Launch Event

Posted by on February 17th, 2011 | 3 Comments | Tags: , , , , , ,

I have an affinity for firearms, as a result of researching them extensively for some of my earlier freelance writing gigs and playing a lot of Counter-Strike in my PC gaming days. So yesterday I was spoiled by Sony Computer Entertainment Canada when they invited myself and other members of the enthusiast media to attend the Killzone 3 Launch Event in Toronto, Canada. Not only was I handed a paintball gun with 200 rounds of ammo, they let me get in some significant time with the Sharpshooter attachment for the Playstation Move. By the end I was sore, I was sweaty, and I had miraculously avoided taking a paintball to the face.

The event was hosted by Sgt Splatter’s Project Paintball who provided free equipment rentals and a generous supply of ammunition. The brave few members of other gaming websites who suited up to join me in the paintball arena battled it out in a number of team-based modes. Many of them are probably still nursing nasty-looking welts and bruises. A few broadcast media outlets took to the field to film segments: a Space channel correspondent braved a paintball firing squad, and I can be seen (in a mask) in a segment on the Naked News as one of their field reporters continually stumbles into bad situations. In all, paintball was a pretty cool diversion to tie into a Killzone 3 launch event.

When I wasn’t lugging around a carbon dioxide canister attached to a paintball resevoir, I was brandishing a Playstation Move Sharpshooter like a soldier. This gun-shaped “shell” bears little resemblance to the cheap plastic attachments that once flooded shelves for the Wii when I was in retail; this was designed for an actually usable, useful experience, with input from Guerrilla Games and Sony’s other development partners. It physically resembles a Heckler & Koch MP5, with an extra handle for holding a Nav controller and an extendible shoulder stock. Usually a stock is needed to brace against a firearm’s recoil, so it isn’t necessary on the Sharpshooter, but it does help one hold it comfortably. It hosts an almost overwhelming amount of inputs in an effort to ensure users will never find themselves reaching awkwardly for buttons on the Move controller docked in the “barrel”. If the trigger is R1, then there is a button underneath the trigger guard that works as R2. There is also a fire selector, lock toggle, and the square and triangle buttons on both sides of the handle, accessible with the trigger finger and made so both lefties and righties can reach. The Nav controller handles the rest of the heavy lifting, with it’s analog stick and buttons, docked in the front. It’s dock itself is a pump-action input as well. There’s even a button where a gun’s ammo clip would be labelled “RL”, which is pretty easy to understand.

Having never played a shooter with the Playstation Move before, I was able to pick up the Sharpshooter and be comfortable with its layout in about five minutes. There was a definite learning curve, but I was able to move & shoot effectively with a little adaptation. Given time to customize the cursor dead zones, I feel I could play just as well as I do with a DualShock 3 controller with a little practice. The only real downside to the Sharpshooter was the bulk; it is by no means a light piece of equipment, and I felt a soreness in my arms after playing for an extended period. This may be due to the fact that I held it like a real gun, not in a more relaxed position. The Sharpshooter made me feel like I was playing an arcade game, except it was an actual full shooter and not some shallow on-rails experience. Given the chance, I would definitely supplement my Move and Nav controllers with this addition for my PS3 shooters.

I wish I could say more about Killzone 3 that hasn’t already been said, but… well, it was really good. We were playing the full retail version, which sadly was limited to the campaign with no opportunities for multiplayer. I got to try it in 3D, and I’m glad they decided to expand the depth into the screen rather than try and make the visuals pop out at you. 3D and Sharpshooter combined was like something out of a top-tier arcade machine, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I had a long & frank conversation with Matt Levitan, Marketing Manager for Sony Computer Entertainment Canada. While discussing our nation’s bandwidth woes, I asked if we’d ever Killzone 3 available as a digital release, just as Mass Effect 2 had been in January. He replied that at 22Gb per version of the game (2D and 3D), it was pretty unlikely to see it available via PSN anytime soon.

I also managed to chat with Chris Haluke, Lead Level Designer for Guerrilla Games. Since Killzone 3 is a disc-based retail release, I wanted to know what role he felt the Playstation Network played for the new shooter. “A lot of it is just fluff,” he told me, referring to the videos, demos, digital strategy guides, and Home content currently available for Killzone 3. Chris sees this as something of a missed opportunity, considering access to PSN is free and there are a large number of consoles active on the network. He hinted at something “more significant” coming soon that might better leverage the Playstation Network, but naturally he wasn’t able to divulge much more.

I was fascinated by the stories he told about the help Guerrilla Games received from other Sony 1st and 2nd party development partners, such as Naughty Dog and Zipper Interactive. This kind of developer culture engendered within the Sony “stable” is something we’ve heard of before, such as how Naughty Dog shared some of their performance capture techniques with Sucker Punch Productions. In fact, Naughty Dog shared those same techniques with Guerrilla, allowing them to bring the presence of powerful actors like Malcolm McDowell into story of Killzone 3. “We all try and share our best stuff with each other,” Chris said in reference to Sony’s development partners, “but we are also constantly trying to one-up each other. It’s an interesting balance.”

Killzone 3 is available in North America on February 22nd. The Sharpshooter is available now.

Thanks to Ashley Beaulac, Matt Levitan, the rest of the SCEC team, and Sgt Splatter’s Project Paintball for hosting the event.