Think motion control is just for consoles? Think again: On the show floor at CES, Valve demoed how easy it was to chop zombies with the new Razer & Sixense “Ultra Motion Controller” for PCs.
While the hardest of hardcore are busy gnashing their teeth and wailing about how motion control is a dead-end technology and how game companies should be focusing on delivering supergraphics with even higher resomolutions, real-time infra-bumpmaptoasters and polygon shademashers, game developers are busy working out how to potentially evolve the medium in a way that removes one of the biggest barriers to entry for non-gamers (the controller) and doesn’t just depend on becoming more prohibitively expensive. Though all three console manufacturers currently have – or are developing – their own motion control technology, the same seemed to be largely absent from the PC gaming field… until now.
Gaming peripheral maker Razer showed off its ‘Razer Sixense Ultra Precise Motion Controller’ at the CES show floor, developed in conjunction with motion sensing firm Sixense (y’know, like it says right there in the title). Using electromagnetic sensors, the RSUPMC (as I will be calling it from now on) is reportedly accurate to 1 millimeter of positioning and a single degree of rotation, and “aims to bring ‘true-to-life, next-generation motion sensing and gesture recognition controller for PC gaming.'”
Guess who’s on board? None less than fanboy-adored PC titan Valve, who were proud to demonstrate the technology in their (totally awesome) co-op zombie murderthon Left 4 Dead 2, as seen above. “With this controller, Razer and Sixense have created the most immersive way to play our games,” said Valve’s Chet Faliszek. “For us and for our customers, this release represents motion-enabled gaming that’s more integrated and visceral than any platform has so far achieved.”
Engadget calls it a hybrid between the Wiimote and Natal for the PC, which doesn’t seem to be all that inaccurate – and looking at the video it does seem to work pretty well for meleeing zombies and (more importantly) shooting them, too. The only weird part is that the katana seems to be floating in midair, not being held like it normally is – but seeing as how this demo was put together in about a week (so we hear), it makes sense that Valve and Razer might not have wanted to display it without the proper animations.
That’s how it feels when you play it, too, says CNet. “[W]hile there was a bit of a learning curve, the motion control was on point and accurate. We were able to rotate and slice a katana blade on screen, successfully decapitating a few zombies in the process. Shooting seemed a bit more intuitive and we were impressed with the satisfying degree of control the device offered.”
Now that Valve is clearly on board the motion control ship, it remains to be seen if its legions of fanboys will follow suit. Almost makes that Half-Life 2 on Natal video seem a tiny bit more genuine, huh?