Getting a head start on the Microsoft Kinect, the Sony PlayStation Move for the PS3 offers a motion-based controlling system aimed at taking on the Nintendo Wii in its own game. But does it stand out from the crowd?
The PlayStation Move combines the PlayStation Eye camera and the PlayStation Move controller in order to utilise motion-based gaming. The controller has a sphere at the end of it, allowing the eye camera to pinpoint the movement and position of the gamer and brings it into the gameplay.
The controller itself is more curved and lighter than Nintendo’s Wiimote. The standard “triangle, circle, x, square” buttons are set more like a square than a diamond, making it slightly confusing at first to locate which button is where.
There’s a PlayStation Move button in the centre of the four main buttons and a trigger at the back of the controller. The start and select buttons are at the side of the controller.
The infamous ball is at the top of the controller, and while it does look a bit silly, it does improve the experience. The controller is definitely more precise to the Wiimote, thanks to the camera pinpointing the sphere, allowing for subtle movements to be acknowledged in game.
The control system certainly works well and is easy to use. So how well do launch games work for it?
I got to try out four of them – Sports Champions, Start the Party!, EyePet: Your Virtual Pet and Kung Fu Rider.
Sports Champions is the PlayStation Move’s answer to Wii Sport. It offers six sports – disc golf, gladiator duelling, bocce, archery, volleyball and table tennis. Aesthetically, it’s a bit bland – the visuals don’t really have a lot of character to them, making it feel a bit generic.
This game also requires 2.5m space from the screen – which is fine for people with big, spacious living rooms, but not for players who have housed their console in their tiny box room.
Archery and gladiator duelling were the most fun. Archery involved players pulling the PlayStation Move controller behind their shoulder and pressing the trigger button to grab an arrow, then aiming the remote at a target and releasing the trigger to fire. The controls for this felt rather precise and intuitive, helping players challenge their marksmanship skills.
Duelling involves the player swinging their Move controller as a sword against an opponent in battle. While there were moments where the controller didn’t pick up a movement, in general, it was quite responsive.
Volleyball required a lot more motions to utilise a variety of moves to win. While not as fast paced as the previously mentioned games, it’s still a lot of fun and you’ll probably find yourself jumping around the room in order to lob the ball back at your opponent.
Table tennis has the player swing the PlayStation Move controller in order to hit the ball back and forth against your opponent. It’s similar enough to its Wii Sport counterpart and works pretty well.
Bocce involved the player swinging the PlayStation Move controller in a throwing motion. Players must determine the right amount of strength in order to throw a ball as close as possible to the first ball thrown to win. It’s not particularly exciting and I found myself getting bored of it after awhile.
Disc Golf essentially works like golf, only players throw frisbees across a green and into the target. While initially fun, it felt a little bit samey after a while.
Overall, Sports Champion is an entertaining game, but doesn’t add anything too revolutionary to motion-based gaming.
Start the Party!
Start the Party! aims at combining the PlayStation Move controller with party-style gaming. It offers a variety of fast-paced mini games that turns the Move controller in a variety of objects, such as a paintbrush, a fan or a flashlight, in order to complete each game.
It offers both a Free Play mode and a Survival mode. Free Play lets players choose whatever mini game they want to play. One game has the player shoot at ghosts before they can ‘spook’ them. Another has the player quickly paint in the shapes that appear onscreen to test how precise they can colour it.
Survival mode slams together these mini games quickly in order to offer fast-paced gaming for the player.
Disappointingly, the game doesn’t actually offer multiple players to play at once – they must swap the controllers between them. The game itself is rather shallow and doesn’t really stand out all that much from other motion-based alternatives on the Wii. It seem like it’s there to show what the Move controller could be capable of as opposed to being a worthy purchase for party-based gaming.
Eyepet offers a virtual pet game using the PlayStation Move controller. Players can use the controller to feed, play with and style their pets in order to develop a relationship with them. The interactivity is pretty impressive, using augmented reality to heighten the experience.
The pet is fully customisable, letting the player choose their fur style, colour, length and clothing. They can also complete challenges on a daily basis to win new items for their pet.
The game is pretty cute, is highly interactive and looks great, but it should be noted that it is aimed squarely at younger players. Kids will love being able to raise their creature but if you never got into the virtual pet craze, this won’t be for you.
Kung Fu Rider
Kung Fu Rider is a bizarre concept. The plot involves two characters named Toby and Karin who attempt to escape from gangsters by riding downhill through a busy street on wheeled furniture, avoiding obstacles and kicking bad guys as they go. Players use the motion controls of the Move controller to navigate.
While this downhill racer sounds like a hoot, it doesn’t control well, which instead makes it very frustrating. For example, in order to speed up, players must wave their controller up and down. However, in order to jump, players must sharply pull up the controller. As a result, I found it sped up when I wanted to jump, and it had my character jump when I wanted to speed up.
It’s also rather unforgiving, as a single hit can cause you to fall and a few hits will send you back to the start of the level. It wouldn’t be so bad if the controls weren’t so muddled. As a result, the game was a frustrating experience. It’s a pity, because conceptually, the game sounds like it could’ve been quite fun.
While the hardware works really well, a lot of these launch titles don’t do it justice. Most of the games don’t push the medium far enough to differentiate itself from the Wii. It certainly is the most precise motion controller around, but it will take a while for games to come out to truly test its merit.
The PlayStation Move is out now. It’s available from €59.99 and includes a controller, a camera and a starter disc, along with demos of many of the Move games. The camera can also be bought separately for €29.99.