Lightgun Renaissance – The Next Big Thing?

Despite having failed to realize my childhood ambition of becoming a private investigator, my keen deductive abilities have not dulled over the years.  Since it launched, the Nintendo Wii has sold over 10 million units globally.  That’s a lot of units.  Let’s face it – waving things around is quite fun, especially with the range of games available that make full use of said waving.

Combine this with the increasing number of promising first-person shooter titles promised over the coming months, and what conclusions can you reach?  That sooner or later, these two factors will inevitably meet – hopefully with more success than Ubisoft’s Red Steel, the memory of which still hurts like an old scar.  But what then?

It’s no secret that gamers are becoming increasingly fickle, and flex a considerable amount of financial muscle.  It’s also common knowledge that developers are striving to create ever-more engaging and realistic experiences in games, especially within first-person shooters; EA in particular are aggressively pushing the boundaries of realism in their sporting franchises, and surely it won’t be long until we see this in other genres – so where do the developers turn next?

Peripherals.  Ever since Nintendo released Duck Hunt back in 1984, we’ve been forced to endure all manner of ill-conceived and poorly-realized peripherals – but that doesn’t mean that things can’t change.  We can rebuild them.  We have the technology.  We have the capability to make the world’s first gaming peripheral that doesn’t suck.  And it doesn’t have to cost $6 million.

Just like desert skirmishes between insurgents and elite military units, production costs versus quality has always been an issue for gaming peripherals.  However, even this doesn’t have to be a barrier to peripherals adding to the overall experience of first-person shooters.  Imagine playing Rainbow Six: Vegas with a decent automatic rifle peripheral?  Or, perhaps even more enticing, playing Left 4 Dead with a nice, solid shotgun accessory?  Developers could look at paintball guns for comparison, as the weight and overall appearance of the lightgun would be crucial in adding to, and not detracting from, the gaming experience. However, with titles like Time Crisis 4 heading for the PS3, the time is right for a decent lightgun peripheral.

Gamers are increasingly playing shooters with better graphics, more advanced enemy AI and more realistic physics on larger screens – so perhaps re-examining the validity of lightgun peripherals is the next logical step towards the nirvana of FPS experiences.  The path ahead is fraught with danger – previous forays have been less than successful, but imagine if they got it right.   

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1 Comment

Filed under first person shooters, hardware

One response to “Lightgun Renaissance – The Next Big Thing?

  1. I assume you’ve seen Ghost Squad in the arcade? It’s quite similar to your idea for Rainbow Six…also the latest House of the Dead employs an uzi replica that would be perfect for Left 4 Dead. Unfortunately, I don’t see purchasing a ton of different light gun peripherals to represent the various weapons employed in each game as a practical possibility arising any time soon, and more likely we will be stuck with an all-purpose solution like the Wii Zapper.

    I think the most interesting aspect of the new shooter craze on Wii will be the fusion of light gun shooter with first person shooter; allowing you to shoot as in a light gun game while moving around and interacting with the environments as in an FPS. If developers can bring this sort of control to the table and pair with quality games (ie in the caliber of Halo or Bioshock rather than Medal of Honor or Red Steel) then the Wii could have an FPS lineup superior to both 360 and PS3.

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