In multiplayer shooters, I’m the worst, and peripherals offer the seductive idea of an advantage. CTA Digital’s Assault Rifle Controller, for PlayStation Move, looks like something that could point-and-shoot me to pwnage, or at least not sucking.
Billed as an all-in-one, enhanced solution for PlayStation Move’s upcoming slate of first-person shooter titles, the CTA Digital Assault rifle combines the Move’s navigation controller functions with a cradle under the barrel for the Move controller itself. The idea is to make moving and firing your weapon more accurate and more intuitive by using a familiar object. But chances are, an assault rifle is anything but familiar to most who’d consider using this.
CTA Digital has built some quirky and charming peripherals to bring console video gaming out of the orthodoxy of its current controller setup. Bowling balls, footballs, steering wheels, the shop in Brooklyn is an idea factory constantly looking for ways to give gamers a more tactile feeling of playing the games they enjoy. This is what they’ve made for shooters.
The Assault Rifle Controller comes in four segments – a stock, a scope, an under-barrel cradle for a PlayStation Move controller, and the body of an automatic weapon. The scope is cosmetic. Fitting all of it together is simple. The cradle has a separate trigger that fits astride the main one, and is used to activate the S button on a PlayStation Move controller (which is the firing control). Batteries go in the handle. Place a dongle in one of the PS3’s USB slots, flip the power switch to “On” and press the rifle’s “Home” button, and it’s good to go.
What We Liked
Well, it’s fun to hold and pose with it.
What We Didn’t Like
Practically everything. The box says the controller is “compatible with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2; Call of Duty: Black Ops, Killzone 3, SOCOM 4 [and]MAG”. Of those, MAG is the only currently available title with PlayStation Move support. Only in the most literal sense is the compatible with the two Call of Duty titles, in that it has all of the working buttons of a DualShock controller spread across an assault rifle body. But it’s no more “compatible” with that game than Madden NFL 11. Trying to play Black Ops with it was a disorienting mess, especially for a game with so many set pieces and QuickTime events. In no case do I recommend this controller for it or any game without Move support.
With Move enabled in MAG, there wasn’t any kind of breakthrough in control, convenience or tactical advantage. It’s still mostly a big cradle for the Move wand, and a pretty heavy one at that. Ergonomically there is very little that runs smoothly when using it. The left thumbstick is on the barrel and clicking it, to sprint, is harder to trigger at this angle. Triangle, which controls crouching and going prone, is on the worst finger, your pinky, which also covers square because your index is on L1 (aim down sights) at the frontmost of the barrel. L2 is on the right thumb at the pistol grip, but because of the way the Move button on the wand overrides R2, switching your primary weapon (or to it from grenades) requires reaching down and pressing the Move button with your left hand. Playing it for an hour, my left arm was sore from the near-right angle at which I had to hold the barrel and align my fingers to its buttons.
As far as your accuracy while firing, you do gain stability, which is good for shooting, but because of its location underneath the barrel you’re always angling it high. You also lose you the means of wrist flick you get with a Move wand in hand, moving your look-around nimbly. This is key because where you “look” with one hand in a standard Move-controlled FPS, you’ve got to do it with two here. I got around MAG much easier with a Move wand and a DualShock acting in place of a navigation controller than I did with this rifle. Finally, the unit itself feels cheaply constructed, particularly in the triggers. A peg on the front of the detachable Move cradle mysteriously broke off as I reattached it after fooling around in Black Ops, requiring me to tape the whole thing together.
The Bottom Line
As a PS3 controller for standard games, this is an expensive and unplayable gimmick; as a Move peripheral, this is built to look like an assault rifle more it was engineered to give you the tactical advantage of one. It offers only minimal aiming stability while requiring a new and often awkward muscle memory for all other functions. In multiplayer, which MAG is exclusively, fast and intuitive reactions are key to having fun and unfortunately, this rifle is likely to jam you up at a critical moment. But it did get me to try MAG, and I rather enjoyed it. With a DualShock.
The Assault Rifle Gun Controller was developed by CTA Digital for use with the PlayStation 3. Retails for $US59.99 and released in this configuration on January 12 (a model without the Move cradle released on August 10). A device was given to us by the manufacturer for reviewing purposes. Tested on PlayStation 3 using Call of Duty: Black Ops and MAG.