Initial Impressions of PlayStation Move

A pretty heavy box was waiting for me at my doorstep when I got home last night, and when I opened it, I knew exactly what I’d be doing all night. Let’s talk about Waggle in HD!

Sony sent over a pretty hefty review kit, which included:

2 Move Controllers
1 Navigation Controller
1 PS Eye
Kung-fu Rider (with a bunch of demos on the disc)
Racquet Sports from Ubisoft
R.U.S.E. from Ubisoft
Eyepet
Start the Party
Sports Champions

So after setting up the video stream for the curious out there, I set-out on my quest to find that elusive item that we’ve all wanted, a game that uses motion controls and is actually fun (yes, I did find it!) I’ve never made it a secret that I’m not the biggest fan of motion controls (which will henceforth be described as Waggle.) I’ve owned a Wii since its debut, and the only things I get excited about on that system are light-gun titles and the Virtual Console. I’ve been very pessimistic about PlayStation Move since it was revealed, but after playing some titles at E3 and at PAX, I started getting a bit excited for a couple of titles.

One thing that everyone needs to do though, is to discern between Move itself, and the tech behind it, and the titles that developers actually bring to the new control platform. So let’s start with the technology.

Move works with a combination of gyroscopic sensors, which are already found in your SIXAXIS and Dual Shock 3 controllers, and tracking of the controller with the PS Eye camera via a glowing ball on the end of the Move controller. This combination brings a true 1:1 motion sensing experience, if the game is actually built to use the technology correctly. We’ve seen tech demos for months, and all show the ease of using the Move controller. If you’ve ever played on the Wii, you will immediately notice the improvement in motion and tracking with Move, as it literally can track every movement you make.

The answer to the question that everyone has is yes, the tech works, and it delivers on everything that’s been stated so far. Even the demo for the game Tumble will instantly show you that not only is it tracking your lateral motions, but also the distance that the controller is form the screen and camera. It feels incredibly natural, and is very easy to pick-up and use once you figure that out.

The controllers themselves are very comfortable to hold, and they have the same rechargeable battery as the Dual Shock 3 does. This holds true for the Nav Controller as well. All are synched to the PS3 in the exact same way as your current controllers, and since the PS3 can see 7 controllers, I don’t ever see any games using the Move controller and the Nav controller together for a 4-player game. In other words, if you opt for the Nav controller, I’d only buy 2 at the most. I can’t really comment on battery life I was quick-charging one last night while using the other on the charge that it came with, but I’d assume it’d be similar to your current DS3. Also, don’t forget that in lieu of a Nav controller, you can use the left side of your Dual Shock 3 or SIXAXIS for the same functionality (since the NAV doesn’t have rumble, this may actually be a good use for that old SIXAXIS you have sitting in a closet.)

Now that we know a bit more about the tech, let’s see if anyone is actually using it correctly. We’ll start with a few of the demos that are included on the Kung-fu Rider disc: All of these demos need to be installed on your hard drive and do not run from the Blu Ray

TV Superstars (Demo)
First-off, the demo is almost 3GB! Basically, this is a party game that tries to pull the player in even more than usual by cleverly using the PS Eye to capture facial expressions and voice, which then applies those to your in-game character. During setup, it will ask you to make certain faces, then to record a “catch-phrase”. The lighting in my gaming room is kinda low, so my face didn’t come out very well on the character, and it ended-up looking quite creepy. The three minigames included in the demo have you jumping over a robot’s arms while you’re running on top of a giant wheel (you make running motions with the controller to keep going,) Flinging yourself from a giant rubber band into targets and adjusting your orientation to match the picture on the target, and walking the fashion catwalk as you perform movements shown on the screen as you strut your stuff for the audience.

Honestly, I see the appeal with this game, and from a technical standpoint, it works very well. Would I personally ever buy this game (or even play the demo again?) That answer would be ‘no.’ It’s definitely made for 2-4 players, and I’d say that the variety is very nice. This is definitely one of the requisite “we have people over, let’s play together” titles that are typical for motion controlled games. I do think that in the right setting, this game could be quite fun, but for a single guy like me, I’m gonna have to pass.

Tumble (Demo)
So, Tumble is a PSN title that has you build stuff with blocks made from different materials, all that react differently to each other. Let’s be honest, this game, while impressive from a technical standpoint, is really an impressive tech demo, but is also an oddly addictive game. There isn’t a better example of the technology included in the Move controller than in Tumble, as every movement you make is instantly shown in the game. These abilities include movements in the 3D space as well, as even the tutorial has the player push a block through a hole by pushing toward the screen. This is also the unintentionally “hottest” game at launch, as pretty-much any description of what’s happening can be misconstrued for innuendo quite easily. The tech is insanely impressive, and if it hits at $10, the game will definitely be worth it.

The Shoot (Demo)
I had a pretty decent amount of time with this game at PAX, and I really enjoyed what I played. With support up to 2 players, The Shoot is at its core, a light-gun game. Tracking and motion are silky-smooth as you work your way through a movie lot shooting cardboard cutouts of people and aliens (a bit more non-violent for the kids.) Overall, it’s a blast to play, and will definitely be on my shelf as soon as it’s released. The game’s not perfect, but even with a few small flaws, it’s quite good. The demo is lengthy, and takes the player(s) through multiple stages of the Wild West area. The disembodied voice can get repetitive from time-to-time, but it’s a small quibble honestly. Included over the standard shooting fare are some pretty sweet power-ups, all of which are activated by doing some sort of motion with the controller. All of the motions fell pretty natural, but this mechanic has obviously been added to showcase the Move’s features blah blah blah.

Racquet Sports (Ubisoft)
I’m going to keep my thoughts pretty short on this one, as I think that I need to read the manual. This package includes games like Tennis, Beach Tennis, Badminton, and Squash, all with many venues and a few characters to choose from, and also supports 1-4 players. The visuals are great, but so far my experience with the controls has been less than appealing. First, you don’t control the character’s movements, but on top of that, the tracking seems way off. I kept trying to hit a ball down the right line from the right side, but it just kept going left. Honestly, this almost seems like it’s only using the sensors in the controller, as it just doesn’t feel like it’s actually tracking the motion or position of the controller at all. I hope that I’m wrong and I find out that I can use the Nav controller, buuuuuuuut I doubt it. So far, I would say to skip this one.

R.U.S.E. (Ubisoft)
Right-off, I’ll tell you that I really suck at RTS games, and anyone that was on the video stream last night will vouch for that πŸ™‚

R.U.S.E. was originally a game only shown on Microsoft’s touch-sensitive tables that cost $20k. It’s an RTS at it’s core, but was built from the ground-up to work with alternate control schemes, and in this case, is pretty perfect for Move. The controls work great, although I will recommend using a Dual Shock 3 or Nav controller, as getting around in some menus, and camera control are both definitely aided in that respect. The Move controls works great once you get used to them, including zooming right-in on a unit from a view very far out. The game itself is solid, with a few minor graphical issues such as texture pop-in when you zoom in-and-out. None of these issues really detract from the game though, and if you’re a fan of the RTS genre, R.U.S.E. will definitely fit that bill.

Kung-fu Rider
This game is such a double-edged sword. What started as a PSN title has now been put on a Blu Ray for $40, and I’m just not sure that it’s worth that much. Kung-fu Rider has the player riding a computer chair down a hill, while dodging obstacles, picking-up items, and the whole time trying to keep members of the Yakuza from catching you. The visuals are great, and the audio is better than average. Gameplay though, is a mixed bag. As shown on http://iWaggle3d.com, the game can seriously be played even with the glowing ball on the controller completely covered-up. This really enforces the theory that many have had, that the game was originally being developed for only using the SIXAXIS features in the regular PS3 controllers. In the video, they do show a couple of instances that the actual visual tracking is used, but after playing the game, the lack of responsiveness sometimes really frustrates after playing some of the other titles made for Move. At $40, I just don’t see this doing well. At least add more content and/or more levels at the higher price Sony.

Sports Champions
Yeah, I’m saving the best for last. It’s not a “killer app,” but damn is it solid! Sports Champions is the game that, if you’re taking the plunge into PlayStation Move, you need to own. It includes:

– Table Tennis
– Gladiator Dual
– Volleyball
– Disc Golf
– Archery
– Bocce Ball

I’m not going to hit every one, but I will say that there isn’t a dud in the group. I never thought that I would like Table Tennis, but the movement is natural with Zero input-lag. My personal favorite, of course, is Bocce Ball. The movement is dead-on, and it’s so easy to judge power and spin, just like the real game without all of that bending over to pick up the balls. The venues available in these games all look great, and in some instances, are pretty over-the-top and fantastical. I also played Archery and Volleyball with 1 and 2 Move controllers, and while having 2 just “feels” better, only using one controller definitely works well. The visuals are great, and each usable character definitely has a unique personality. The biggest problem I have with Sports Champions though, is that online play is not included. It’s definitely not a deal-breaker, but it is disappointing. It does include online leaderboards though, so you can still score-chase with your friends.

Conclusion (so far)
The technology in PlayStation Move is quite impressive, and I’m here to tell you that it works, and works very well. The software, for the most part, hasn’t really caught-up to the tech yet, but there are a couple of gems there, and on the horizon. Sony has put a lot of muscle behind Move, and within the list of upcoming titles, there are actually a few that really interest me. But, is it worth buying the $50 Move controller at this point? I’ll say this, if you’re planning on buying Move for a game like Resident Evil 5 Gold, or Time Crisis, or something down the line, I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed. Sports Champions is great, but I’m not sure if it’s worth buying the controller solely for that game. If you’re on the fence, find a friend that has Move and give it a try. The biggest issue is that many of the launch titles aren’t aimed at the “core gamers,” but Sports Champions and possibly R.U.S.E. will tide you over for a couple of weeks while the Move patches roll in for games like High Velocity Bowling, Planet MiniGolf, Tiger Woods 11, and many others.

The bottom line is, Move delivers on the promises that have been made regarding its features. Now it’s all up to developers to bring us compelling software that’s fun and intuitive. I’m more impressed than I thought that I would be, and I am genuinely excited in a few upcoming titles/patches.

By the way, I played all of these games while in the seated position, with low-light in the room.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook
  • Link to the video? or was it live only?

    • It was live only. I’m gonna try and record some footage this week though

  • day one for me, keep up the good work with the podcasts btw

  • I see you say you played the games in a seated position,would it be possible to play while sitting/lying on a bed? Got my ps3 setup in my bedroom,got a nice big bed,but no space around the sides for standing.

    • I’m sure you can with a couple of the Move titles, but laying down isn’t really a good orientation for many of these games, simply because of the mechanics. I mean, you wouldn’t play real Table Tennis or Golf lying down…

  • Anonymous

    I put down a $10 deposit for the Move pack a few weeks back. Then I read some early reviews and watched a few more videos and my decision to purchase it day 1 was uncertain. Now, I’m reading this and I’m back on board…kinda. Damn, I hate this fence balancing.

  • Wow, reading this it was like I could have been writing it myself, and then when I saw it was posted by “Glenn” which is my name, two n’s and all, it was perfect πŸ˜‰ I have to say I love Sports Champions, especially disc golf and Bocce. But they are all fun, and don’t require you to get up and move around which is why I always hated motion controls. Can’t wait for a Boom Blox type game!