Game Rant's Ben Kendrick reviews the PlayStation Move
Expectations and emotions run high in the console war with many game enthusiasts looking to the PlayStation Move and Microsoft Kinect to help justify their alliance to a particular hardware manufacturer.
Competition is a good thing, between the manufacturers, but it’s unfortunate that so many gamers are pooh-poohing the innovation behind Move and Kinect, simply because these individuals are “hardcore." Listen, if you’re not interested in Move or Kinect, that’s totally fine — but remember, no one is going to force you to play Modern Warfare 3 with motion controls. So, relax.
For those of you interested in phase two of the PS3 launch — i.e. PlayStation Move, let’s start with the basics.
Though I’ve had the Sports Champions move bundle for over a week, I was waiting to polish-off this review until Heavy Rain (one of Game Rant’s favorite titles — read our review), received a Move patch. Sure, I could have talked about how much better Sports Champions performs than Wii Sports Resort; however, since a number of high-profile Sony titles will feature Move, I wanted see, “could Move add something to an already immersive experience?” Or, would it disrupt that experience with unintuitive waggle gestures?
Sony added the Heavy Rain Move patch early yesterday morning, so here we go.
PlayStation Move Hardware:
When compared to the Wii-mote, the Move is a significant step up - in comfort and precision. The controller is much lighter than Nintendo’s, and significantly less-blocky. The navigation controller is equally comfortable, and unlike Nintendo’s nunchuck, it’s wireless — allowing for greater range of motion in the Move-hand.
The Move has been criticized for looking ridiculous, but all of the ice cream and sex toy-related jokes are easily forgotten the first time you experience the precision of the tech. It is very accurate — with hardly any discernible lag. That said, certain lighting conditions may effect the accuracy and general performance of the PlayStation Move hardware. Rooms with an excessive amount of sunlight or, conversely, poor lighting can cause tracking problems — especially for non-Move actions such as using your real hand to tickle an EyePet.
In addition, Sony gamers with extremely tight living quarters may find that some game features require a lot more room than they have to offer. I live in a New York City apartment, and while most Move games worked just fine, there were a few instances where I stepped outside of the PlayStation Eye’s field of view or had to dial back my enthusiasm for fear of hitting something. This isn’t a fault of the PlayStation Move hardware but it is something potential players should be aware of.
It’s not as simple as saying, “I’ve got a Wii, so I should have room for the Move.” The addition of the camera in the Move hardware ultimately results in a much more carefully monitored experience - which requires more room. Instead of simply following the motions of the controller, in some cases, Move is tracking your entire body. With each game, the player must resync the controller and software. Syncing is a brief and painless process, but a testament to the amount of data the Move system is tracking.
If there’s one down side to the PlayStation Move hardware, it’s the USB cable attached to the camera — not because a wired camera can’t work; rather, because the wire weighs enough that it can cause the camera to tip over — or even fall off the top of your HDTV. I have a Sony Bravia, and there is no safe place to put the camera. If they didn’t design the PlayStation Eye to work seamlessly with their own TVs, imagine the annoyance you’re bound to have with a Panasonic, Samsung, etc. The problem improves as the cord stretches out but, even a week out of the box, I’m still giving the camera anxious looks.
There is usually a shortage of quality titles available at any console launch and PlayStation Move is no different. Kung Fu Rider, Racquet Sports, and Start the Party are unlikely to move a lot of units — especially considering they're available to demo through the PlayStation Store. Each of these games lacks any significant depth and fall into the typical motion control shovelware zone (which has been mined to death by Wii developers).
The point here is simple, stay away from the Move launch titles - with a few notable exceptions.
As mentioned previously, it’s impossible to not think about Sports Champions as merely a better version of Wii Sports and, for the most part, the comparison is fair. However, that doesn’t mean that Sports Champions isn’t an improved experience on the Move. The controls are much more intuitive, instead of simply swinging the Wii-mote around Move provides players with an added level of precision (much better than MotionPlus) that creates an immersive and natural feel. In addition, the PlayStation Eye tracks where you are in relation to the camera, adding extra play-options - i.e. in table tennis, stepping forward allows the player to reach short hits, where taking a step back allows them to defend agains smashes.
The title is especially fun if you have a second move controller. The Gladiator Duel is enjoyable with a single Move, the trigger button toggling between defensive and attack moves; however, with two controllers, players simultaneously control their shield with one hand and their sword with the other — creating an immersive but still tactile experience only achievable through PlayStation Move.
The included sports are pretty standard fare but still improve upon the foundation of Wii Sports. In addition to the Gladiator Duel, Bocce, and Archery were stand-out successes — where the movements of the controller were matched well with the sport to create a casual experience with a decent amount of depth.
Sure, Heavy Rain has been out for over six months but the addition of Move support will undoubtedly bring new gamers into the world of the Origami Killer as well as give previous players a new reason to return. In addition to Move controls, Heavy Rain has also received a much-needed set of stability fixes that should improve upon one of the biggest drawbacks to the title when it launched - corrupted save files and game breaking glitches.
I was a big proponent of Heavy Rain at launch. It wasn’t perfect (plot holes and glitches galore) but it was an ambitious endeavor that was mostly successful in pushing the boundaries of interactive drama.
Heavy Rain is even better with the move. While the controls do take a bit of getting used to, the title shows what the future of Move could be — especially considering Quantic Dream merely patched the game with Move support. Imagine if they had been developing for the peripheral from day one?
Still, the controls are incredibly intuitive: to open a refrigerator, you’ll hold the trigger button and pull away from the screen — simple but immersive. However, the best example (and made me wish I’d been able to play with Move support back in February), was the integration of motion control, tactile feedback, and drama. Imagine, after a tense fight, you’ve got a gun aimed at your attacker’s head, and you have the choice to execute or spare them. To aid in the tension, the Move controller, which represents your gun hand, is vibrating in sync with your character’s pulse - as you decide whether or not to pull the trigger. Sure, some of the fight scenes are still waggle-fests, but there are plenty of moments where the Move’s implementation really heightens the experience.
Quantic Dream has managed to include Move support in a subtle and satisfying way but Heavy Rain is also a great example of why “hardcore” gamers shouldn’t fear the PlayStation Move, not because Move support is the only pathway to the future; instead, because it’s totally optional. The game allows you to switch on the fly between the Move and the normal PS3 controller — a nice addition considering the workout you’d get from two hours of Heavy Rain with the PlayStation Move.
If you’re open to a challenging puzzle game, I found that the PSN title Tumble was an enjoyable introduction to the Move - without having to shell out a lot of money (it’s $9.99).
If you have kids, EyePet is a no-brainer. The game’s augmented reality features are impressive and there’s no doubt children will get hours of enjoyment out of the game. However, beyond showing off the tech, the title doesn’t have much to offer adults.
PlayStation Move isn’t for everyone and it’s definitely lacking in great must-have titles right now. However, it’s a great piece of tech that Sony is going to be unapologetic in supporting. In the coming months, a number of high-profile PS3 titles will feature optional Move support including: LittleBigPlanet 2 (January 2011), Killzone 3 (February 2011), and InFamous 2 (2011).
While there’s no reason to rush out and buy the hardware, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth picking up. The Sports Champions Move Bundle ($99.99) is a great place to start with Sony’s new controller. You’ll be getting a solid party game as well as the basic hardware — adding-on as your hardware needs grow over time.
Sure the Move is going to bring in a lot of casual shovelware to the PS3 software library but gamers are doing themselves a disservice if they merely dub the PS3/Move Combo, the Wii HD. The precision of the tech, coupled with Sony’s growing list of excellent first party titles, has gamers poised for some great experiences on the PlayStation Move.