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November 24, 2010
The Shoot - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
29/10/2010SonySonyCohort Studios1-2None
Media HDD Space Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Look Out, Incoming Missile!!
The Playstation Move is a new piece of technology, and as often happens early in a products lifecycle developers are yet to put the technology to the test. Rather they are relying on tried and tested formulas like mini-game compilations, or as is the case here, on-rails shooters. The Wii helped establish a market for these types of games, and we have no complaints provided the games are any good. And that is the question facing Sony and Cohort Studios' The Shoot – is it any good?

There is no narrative in The Shoot outside of the tutorial, but the premise is that you are an actor in a movie who must impress the director with your shooting prowess. There are five levels in the game, each with its own unique movie-set theme. There's a western level, a sci-fi level (where you battle robots), a gangster level, an underwater level and the zombie-themed climax. Despite being a shooting game, The Shoot is family-friendly because all enemies are cardboard cut-outs, and even though they can fight back there is no dying per se, and definitely no blood. In place of losing lives here you'll lose ‘takes', which happens when you make the director angry by taking damage, shooting civilians or missing too many enemies in a row.

There are multiple game modes in The Shoot; Career, Score Attack, Challenges and Studio 101. Before you're allowed to jump into any of the other modes you must play through Studio 101 which is a detailed tutorial. Here you are told that the key to impressing the director is to be accurate – your score multiplier goes up for every consecutive enemy you hit, while it is halved if you miss or take damage. You're also shown that hitting enemies consecutively has another benefit, that is, it unlocks style-shot power-ups. The most easily gained style shot is ‘showtime' which temporarily slows down time making it much easier to hit enemies and build your multiplier. Next up is ‘shockwave' which, as the name suggests, sends out a shockwave that takes out all on-screen enemies and incoming bullets. The last style-shot you can get your hands on is ‘rampage' which gives you rapid fire and, perhaps more importantly, makes it so that your multiplier won't reset even if you take damage or shoot civilians. You don't trigger style-shots by pushing a button, rather you have to physically spin in a circle for ‘showtime', shoot the ground for a ‘shockwave', and shoot the ceiling for a ‘rampage'. If an enemy pops up really close to you, you can swing the Move controller to perform a pistol-whip which will take care of one close-range enemy.

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Taking on some ghosts in The Shoot.
Once you've made your way through Studio 101 you're free to enter Career mode. Here you put into practice what you learned in the tutorial, and it must be said that the first level is quite easy; enemies don't move around too much or shoot at you often, which makes them easy prey. Each movie (or level) consists of four acts and you'll have to attain a certain score to unlock the next movie. Completing a movie will unlock the Score Attack mode; here you can attempt one act at a time with the goal being to score as high as possible.

While the name of the game is to shoot down your enemies, there are some other things to look for during each movie. Firstly, there are eight poster pieces (two per act) to find in each movie. Finding all eight pieces, and then putting them together in a jigsaw puzzle mini-game (I guess it's a game) unlocks the challenge mode for that level. Secondly there are ‘deleted scenes' in each act which send out a few waves of easy to kill enemies. These seem to be designed for you to use ‘showtime' style-shots to boost your multiplier, but curiously there is no in-game mention of unlocking deleted scenes when you do it. And thirdly there are a couple of ‘show stoppers' to find in each act. Show stoppers are bonuses that are unlocked by shooting particular objects at the right time, and you'll receive around ten-thousand times your multiplier, so these are an awesome way to boost your score. Unlike deleted scenes you receive a message when you trigger a show stopper.

Outside of shooting you also have a few context-sensitive moves at your disposal. We've already mentioned pistol-whips and how to trigger style-shots, but you can also dodge any incoming enemy attacks by dodging left or right by pointing the Move controller off the screen, as well as duck by pointing the motion controller down. There are other times where you'll be asked to move the Move up and down to power a train car too. Neither dodging nor ducking are as straightforward as they could be though, as incoming bullets are often aimed slightly left or right, so you have to see which way they are heading and dodge accordingly. This isn't always easy in the heat of battle, so I often resorted to shooting them out of the air instead (and usually losing my multiplier in the process), rather than dodge but still take a hit. Both dodging and ducking seem adversely affected if a style-shot is in-play at the time too – in one level where you have to dodge a gatling gun by ducking, I found my character couldn't stand up and target the gun anymore because if I tried to target the gun, my character ducked instead. This is very frustrating, and should have been fixed before release.

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Shootout in the Wild West.
Calibration of the Move controller is, like the other Move games I have played, very straightforward – simply point the Move at the camera and hold down the Move button. You may be asked to shoot a couple of targets afterwards for extra precision, but with that done you're ready to go. I found that the calibration could go a bit awry at times, usually after a ‘showtime' spin had sent me careening towards the TV before stepping back again, but you can re-calibrate by holding the select button at any time so this is largely a non-issue.

While there is no online play (you can compare your scores to other players online though), there is multiplayer to enjoy. You can play together, or compete against each other one after another. Unfortunately with just the one Move controller I was unable to test this mode, but it's safe to say that provided it doesn't suffer from significant performance issues it would definitely add value to the game.

There are a few minor issues with the game, and some not so minor too. In terms of minor issues the on-screen instructions you receive before bosses are not always helpful, meaning you'll learn by doing, rather than the instructions. Next, enemy bullets (and occasionally enemies themselves) go behind the icons at the top of the screen, making them very difficult to see. Also, the game seems cheap at times, finding sneaky ways to destroy your multiplier. For example, when you shoot an enemy their cut-out breaks into many pieces and these pieces will actually block subsequent shots, which means taking out grouped enemies can be an exercise in frustration. Another example was there were plenty of times when attempts to trigger style-shots by shooting off-screen resulted in the game registering a missed shot, which is unbelievably frustrating and an undeniable issue.

Aside from the already mentioned bug about dodging and ducking when a style-shot is active, there are two other major issues. The first one you'll notice immediately, and that is the loading times. When loading the game, any movie, or exiting a movie, you'll be twiddling your thumbs for a minute or more. It must be said that the four acts of each movie load almost instantly, but getting there is a bit of a drag. This is made worse by the fact that there are no restart or retry options, at least not in Career mode. The second issue is that of longevity – with just five movies to play through you'll tear through The Shoot in a matter of two or three hours. Many players will happily come back and attempt to break their top scores, or make it further through Challenges, but for many others the game will sit unused on the shelf within days of purchase. A few more movies or a story to go with the action would have added much to The Shoot.

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The Shoot is out now on PS3.
Visually the game is solid, but not staggering – they're deliberately simple, but it works well. The enemy cut-outs look fine, and they have some interesting, though limited, animations when they move. The movie-sets are busy with plenty of destructible items in the background, many of which set of explosions, while any missed shots will leave a mark on the background. It's cool to see signs that you're on a movie-set too, with bright lights and scaffolding seen in the background during levels. The one knock on the graphics is that there are definite signs of slowdown when the action is thickest, usually when you've triggered an explosion.

The music is entertaining for a while, though it does start to grate if you play one level for too long. Each of the movie levels has a tune that you could imagine being in a real movie with that theme, though they have been made a bit wackier and over the top. The intro song has a nice ‘James Bond' feel about it, and sets up the action nicely. The sound effects are all perfectly fine, though the director's constant haranguing can grow old quickly. It certainly does nothing to lessen your frustration during rough patches, but you'll be able to ignore him when you're doing well.

The Shoot is an entertaining, family-friendly shooter that uses the Move in some interesting ways. There are three enjoyable game modes and competitive or co-operative multiplayer as well. The biggest issue is that it's very short and has no narrative at all, which means many players will pack the game away within days of purchase. However for those people who love coming back to beat their top-scores, The Shoot provides entertaining and slightly innovative action. The cheaper price-point (under $50) means if you're interested in shooting games this is worth checking out, but only dedicated shooting fans are likely to get great value for money.

Review By: Mike Allison

GRAPHICSDeliberately simple in many ways, but the destructible backgrounds are fun. It works well for the most part, with only some occasional slowdown hampering things.
SOUNDThe music is enjoyable for a while, the sound effects are solid, but the badgering director grows old quickly.
GAMEPLAYThe music is enjoyable for a while, the sound effects are solid, but the badgering director grows old quickly.
VALUEThe game is very short, so unless you want to come back and beat your top scores over and over, you're going to get over it in a couple of days. On the plus side it's cheap-ish.
OVERALLAt its best The Shoot can be a lot of fun, but the very short length and occasionally cheap AI make it better suited to mad keen shooter fans.

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