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Sony's PlayStation VR Aim Controller makes it easy to shoot scary space spiders (hands-on)

Sony's PlayStation VR Aim Controller makes me unreasonably excited for light gun games.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
2 min read

I've always loved light gun games. Arcade classics like Time Crisis, Police 911 and Silent Scope -- with its realistic sniper rifle -- were my favs. Now, an ugly grey plastic tube is poised to blow them all away.

The new PlayStation VR Aim Controller looks more like a balloon animal than a weapon of war. But as soon as I placed the PlayStation VR headset on my head, it morphed into a futuristic assault rifle so easy to aim, it almost felt like it could read my mind.

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The PlayStation VR Aim Controller.

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In Farpoint, the initial PlayStation VR shooting game that will arrive alongside the Aim controller (at some point in the future for an undisclosed price), I traversed a desolate, dusty alien landscape shooting space spiders. They lept through the air like Half-Life's infamous headcrabs in an attempt to eat my brains, or shot huge globes of noxious acid to melt my flesh and bones. But with the Aim, I could pick them off with precision before they even hit the ground.

Mind you, I've played some fantastic shooting games on the HTC Vive and with the upcoming Oculus Touch controllers, too. This was different. Nothing I've played for the Rift or Vive's two separate controllers (instead of a single two-handed gun) has felt quite this intuitive.

Physically, the Aim is pretty much what you'd expect from a modern PlayStation controller. If you look for them, you'll find pretty much all the same controls as the standard DualShock 4: two analog sticks, four face buttons, two bumpers, two triggers, a directional pad, Share and Options buttons and even a button mapped to the DualShock's touchpad button (though no actual touchpad on top.

Sean Hollister/CNET

Of course, those triggers are in rather different places to take the form of a gun. And in a nod to lefties, the peripheral is totally ambidextrous, with a R1 button mounted on either side of the trigger, under your index finger, to help you reload. "We didn't want you to have to reach for anything," says Seth Luisi, who helped prototype the controller for his game Farpoint.

Isn't the Aim the same as Sony's Sharpshooter, which turned a PlayStation Move and Motion Controller into a two-handed gun back in 2010? Not at all. Though they look similar, the Aim is far more accurate and with far less of a delay before your motions are reflected in the game world. In fact, it works in tandem with the PlayStation VR headset to bring your wrists and arms into VR, too -- with the extra sensor data, it seems pretty good at estimating where they are.

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The PlayStation Move Sharpshooter, from 2010.


The PlayStation VR Aim Controller is effectively a replacement for the Sharpshooter, by the way. Farpoint won't support the Sharpshooter at all. You'll need an Aim (or a standard PS4 gamepad) to play the game once it eventually comes out.

Now here's hoping Konami likes the controller enough to start working on a new Silent Scope.