First came the NES Zapper, then the Wii Zapper, PS3 Sharp Shooter and now the MAG II Magneton Induction Gun. Yes, MAG II is another gun controller that aims to make first-person shooter games more life-like, but this one is different. It requires no sensors or cameras and can double as a light gun.
Plastic gun controllers aren't for everyone. They're tiring to hold up over long stretches of gaming. All Interactive Entertainment's MAG II is a space marine shaped gun that shrinks offers a near 1:1 FPS experience with any existing game.
Shooter games designed for the Wii Remote and PlayStation Move controller require the Wii Sensor Bar or PlayStation Eye because that's how the controllers are tracked.
The MAG II has no sensor bar. There's a USB dongle that plugs into an Xbox 360, PS3 or PC USB port and the gun controller which has a built-in gyroscope for motion tracking. That's it. It's super simple to set up.
We were treated to short demo of the MAG II and surprisingly, for a quiet booth tucked in the corner of E3, the gun controller works very well. Aiming is fluid and precise, with the onscreen gun mimicked in almost 1:1 from our controller movement. There's built-in vibration and even a knob up on top that lets you tweak the sensitivity settings on the fly.
All Interactive Entertainment says that the MAG II is also calibrated to work properly with split-screen gaming where tracking can get a little ugly. As a prototype, the controller felt solid. It's plasticky body might not look very attractive, but it works as advertised and it blows the SharpShooter and Wii Zapper completely away.
You can wager that the market for this kind of gun controller is incredibly small, but damn it, this is how FPS gun controllers are supposed to work.
Even more impressive is that the MAG II can be converted to a light gun to play classics such as House of the Dead and Time Crisis. We're not talking about motion-based arcade shooters optimized for motion controls, we're talking legit light gun games of video games past.
Another cool feature: the MAG can be used as cosplay prop! When not connected to any game machines, the trigger activates the vibration, creating a fun toy weapon.
There's just one thing: All Interactive Entertainment is shooting to sell the MAG II before October 2012 for $150. No wonder this kind of thing doesn't have mass appeal.
Posted on location at E3 in Los Angeles, California. All photos and video shot and edited by Raymond Wong for DVICE.