Freedom motion controller arrives at GDC, brings Squeeballs with it

Details of the first Xbox 360 motion controller have emerged via IGN from this year’s GDC. Also in development for PlayStation 3, the peripheral promises a number of improvements over its Wii precursor. It would seem to be pretty much done too, as dev teams are already hard at work creating games that take advantage of the controller’s unique abilities.

Produced by Performance Designed Products, the Gametrak Freedom will launch on Xbox 360 this autumn, with a PlayStation 3 version “potentially” following next year – pricing details are yet to be announced. For now though, it’s just the Xbox 360 model on display and word is that beneath all that white plastic there’s some pretty impressive tech.

Like the Wiimote, the Freedom uses accelerometers to judge pitch, roll and yaw of the controller. That’s the basic stuff. But in addition to this, PDP have employed the use of “ultrasonic 3D positioning.” What this means is that the Freedom emits ultrasonic pulses that are picked up by sensors and combined with the accelerometer data to accurately calculate the distance, orientation, and speed of the device. Put simply, there will be no cheatin’ wrist flicks with this badboy, we’re in the realms of 1:1 motion sensing. It’ll be interesting to see how the Freedom measures up against Nintendo’s forthcoming Wii Motion Plus.

Of course, fancy new controllers are just useless lumps of plastic without decent games to play. Lucky for us then that PDP are on the ball. Thanks to their acquisition of In2Games, the company have been able to come up with their very own launch title, Squeeballs.

Squeeballs is, somewhat unsurprisingly, a mini-game title promising 11 different mini-games and 150 challenges. These games are more than just waggle-fests though. Taking advantage of the Freedom’s precise motion detection, many of the games require full body movements. One mini-game detailed, called Shock, tasks the player with guiding a ring along a electrified wire. As the wire twists and turns it demands extensive physical movement on the part of the user. Furthermore, a proportional level of force is required to achieve certain in-game tasks, such as moving levers, meaning you will have to really swing the controller to get the desired effect. Looks interesting. We’ll bring more when we have it.