The Shoot Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

The Shoot Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Bruckheimer would be proud

It comes as no big surprise that just a month after the release of the PlayStation Move the system would already see light gun games rising to prominence as one of the system’s dominant genres. This week sees the release of two big name light gun rail shooters: the latest in the classic Time Crisis series, and The Shoot. The latter features a starkly different approach and tone than the former, but nonetheless the two are battling for consumer dollars this week.

The Shoot screenshot

The Shoot is an attempt to create a somewhat comedic experience in the mold of an on-rails light gun shooter. You are cast as an action star in a series of blockbuster action movies featuring over-the-top cowboy shoot-outs, robot invasions, and noir-themed mafia fights. From start to finish the whole experience is littered with fun personality, and the whole game is uplifted because of it.

Very little about The Shoot is going to surprise you. We’ve all played light-gun games before, and The Shoot does very little to break new ground in the mechanics of this type of shooter. The only thing that caught me off guard about this game is how much fun it actually is. Many different elements combine to create a rail-shooter experience that had me laughing, excited, and ready to go another round.

But before I shower too much praise on this game, there are some important faults that need to be addressed. For starters, it’s only takes about two hours to make it through the campaign, which is fairly typical for a light gun game. You’ll have fun during your two hours, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s over in the blink of an eye, and at $40, The Shoot is a fairly expensive for a two hour game. That ratio of dollars to hours will have many gamers feeling a bit slighted no matter what.

The Shoot screenshot

The counter point to that is that The Shoot is intended to be replayed. Your cumulative score the first time through is likely to be pitiful. The whole game essentially revolves around a combo mechanic that can change your score drastically. It’s simple: shoot multiple enemies in a row to raise your point modifier, but don’t miss or get hit or else it will drop back down. So essentially you’re getting extra points depending on how accurate and skilled you are at the game. It’s not complicated, but this system works great in a light gun game. Not only does it give you incentive to stop spraying bullets all over the level, but it makes you thoughtful. “Should I take a shot at that hard target in the back and risk missing?” That’s the kind of split-second decision making The Shoot encourages.

To help you maintain your combo, you are given access to a trio of powerups that you will collect when you get five successful shots in a row. There’s a device to slow down time (no different than bullet time in any other game), a shock wave that blasts all enemies in front of you, and a “rampage” that basically gives you access to a fully automatic Tommy Gun with unlimited ammo and carte blanch to blast everywhere without fear of losing your combo.

The Shoot screenshot

These things aren’t what makes or breaks The Shoot though. It’s the personality of the game. The entire game takes place on a movie set, and that theme is perpetuated throughout the game. When you begin a level, you start off the set next to cameras, chairs, and crew. Then you walk onto the set, and are mostly immersed in the new setting. Occasionally the camera will pan up and you’ll see the lighting fixtures and other things like that. The enemies are awesome. Rather than pretending to shoot real people, all of the enemies are cardboard cutouts of real enemies. Some of them have limited animations, which amounts to basically two legs on a swivel to simulated running. The whole idea of the cardboard cutouts is really fun. Not only is it playful, but the wood of the cutouts blows up or falls apart when you shoot it, which is a much more satisfying result than some faceless enemy doing a prerendered back flip when you shoot him. This also makes the game a bit more child-friendly.

There are other cool visual effects as well. For instance, much of the environment is destructible, and crumbles if a stray bullet connects with it. Plaster walls fall to the floor, columns will collapse, etc. My favorite of these effects comes when you accidentally shoot the sky in one level. Nothing happens except for a little hole being punched in the tarp with light seeping through from the other side.

The Shoot screenshot

The soundtrack surprised me. No reasonable person would expect an on-rails light gun game to bother putting together a great soundtrack, but The Shoot really came through in this regard. For instance, the noir-soaked Mafia level features a bombastic big band theme throughout each level. Not only is it pleasing on the ears, but it energizes you and makes you want to get up off the couch and get into the game.

The controls all work fairly well even if sometimes it’s hard to lean or crouch the way you’d like. Even a complex move like doing a quick 360-degree turn to activate bullet-time is easy-to-do and can be pulled off in a pinch.

I don’t think many people had The Shoot on their radar over the last few months, but I hope people give it a try. The only impediment is that this costs $40 right now at retail, and that’s simply too much to ask for two hours worth of content. This would have been a no-brainer must-buy if it were a $10-$15 PSN downloadable game, but at its current price it’s tough to recommend.

It’s worth checking out as a rental, or if you’ve got a friend to play with – and split the cost with – then The Shoot will give you plenty of good times. You may even find yourself replaying it once or twice. But if money is tight and you need a substantial gaming experience that will last, I can not recommend The Shoot despite its many qualities.

Certainly low budget, but also endearing, fun, and appropriate. 3.5 Control
There are occasionally some difficulties, but the controls mostly work quite well. 4.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The soundtrack is lots of fun, but the voice over is repetitive. 2.3 Play Value
The game experience is over in a matter of only a couple hours. For gamers on a budget, $40 is way too much to ask for such a short experience. But what’s here is good and you’ll have a good time if you’ve got the money or pick it up as a rental. 3.4 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Motion controller-based gun-play including powerful special attacks, such as rampage, showtime, and shockwave, that allow players to wreck havoc on action movie sets.
  • Highly-destructible environments that can be shot away to expose enemies, secret power-ups, bonus items, and deleted scenes.
  • Five themed movie sets including Haunted House Party, Outlaws, Robot Rebellion, Deep Perils, and The Mob.

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