Ever since the Wii hit the market in 2006, motion controllers have become a mainstay of console gaming. From the PlayStation Move to the Xbox Kinect, just about every hardware manufacturer is trying to get a slice of the motion controller pie. All Interactive Entertainment promises to change the scene with its MAG II controller (not to be confused with the addictive PS3 game MAG), which offers functionality on both the PS3 and PC.
It’d be hard to talk about the MAG II without bringing up the PlayStation Move Sharpshooter. All Interactive’s gun peripheral shares much in common with Sony’s own controller. Comparatively, both peripherals are roughly the same size, though unfortunately the MAG II does not feature a collapsible stock. This forces players to hold the gun in a certain way, whereas the Sharpshooter offers more versatility. However, the MAG II is quite lightweight, making it easy to play standing up.
Unlike the Move/Sharpshooter combo, the MAG II does not require a sensor bar or camera to work. All players must do is point the controller at the center of the screen and hold down the “mark” button. Doing so will automatically calibrate the controller. If the player notices any inconsistencies, the mark button can be pressed at any time to re-calibrate. Strangely enough, even without the need for a sensor bar, it still appears that a minimum distance between the player and the screen is required. Playing Black Ops 2 in my small gaming room proved to be problematic, yet the extra space of my loft allowed the gun to function flawlessly.
The MAG II is built to work with any PS3/PC shooter. We tested it out using Resistance 3 and House of the Dead 3 on PS3, whereas PC testing was done with Tripwaire Interactive’s Killing Floor. It was clear from this that the gun works best when played standing up, as it gives the player more freedom to turn. Movement on the horizontal axis can prove quite difficult on the PS3, forcing players to up the camera sensitivity. Such an issue would have been alleviated if there was a button allowing the player to quickly turn 90 or 180 degrees. The controller worked just as well as the Move in both games (Resistance 3 and House of the Dead 3 both support Move), offering the same level of precision as Sony’s controller.
No matter what platform the player is using the MAG II for, users will want ensure that they have a USB port free. The MAG II requires a small cube to be plugged in to function, and this cube can also be used to update the controller’s software. A dial on the MAG II allows for different settings, even giving less experienced player some help with automatic aiming. The software (and presumably these features) will be improved with future updates.
All Interactive Entertainment markets the MAG II as being able to work with any PS3/PC (first person) shooter, and that’s quite true. As we already mentioned, there can be problems using it on the PS3, however for PC shooters the game works just fine. The MAG II is best used for rail shooters like House of the Dead on PS3, as the aforementioned dial enables players to map left stick functionality to the MAG II’s gyroscopes. This allows it to function like a light gun peripheral. When playing House of the Dead 3, the MAG II offered the same precision as the Move Sharpshooter. In terms of calibration, the controllers mark button allowed for quick re-calibrated without having to pause the game.
With a suggested MSRP of $149.99, the MAG II would be a tough sell if it were PS3 only, seeing as the Move can be bought for quite cheaper and doesn’t require any camera tweaks. Thankfully for those interested, the controller works just fine on PC. When testing out the MAG II in Killing Floor, I found it to be just as precise as a mouse keyboard, while quick jolts of the controller allowed me to quickly spin the camera. In fact, the MAG II has now become my primary controller for Killing Floor, as it’s just that much more fun to use.
In the end, the MAG II should only be looked into for those who absolutely love motion controls. Once players fiddle around with the settings, the controller will work fine on the PS3 and even better on the PC. The controller offers enough precision that gamers won’t feel like they’re fighting the controller, though it’s likely the MAG II won’t offer enough to sway gamepad and keyboard/mouse purists.
The MAG II is available now.
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