The PlayStation Move goes on sale this month, and Kinect for Xbox 360 aside, we’ve never been quite so excited about what at first glance is merely a controller. But make no mistake, Sony’s selling it as much more than that: it’s trying to pitch the PlayStation Move almost as a new console release in itself, so drastically different are its motion controls and paradigms from the DualShock 3 PS3 gamepad you know and love. Does it live up to the hype? Should you flog your Wii on eBay for one? We’ve got all the answers for you here in our full PlayStation Move review.
Allow us to allay some of your fears you might have had about the PlayStation Move: it works. We were put off by our first play with Ubisoft’s Racket Sports a few months ago, but after testing the finished product extensively, we’re convinced Ubisoft’s sloppy game was to blame. The PlayStation Move is incredibly accurate, using its collection of sensors to chart your exact space in three dimensions (yup, depth as well), rather than just vague movements relative to where you were previously (what the Wii is only capable of).
It’s the closest we’ve seen to 1:1 in motion control gaming so far, and when you find a game that uses the tech properly (Table tennis in Sports Champions, for instance), will really make you marvel at its potential. Navigating the XMB menus with the PlayStation Move with just a wave beats the Wii’s irritating menu cursor any day, and the PlayStation Eye camera maps objects on to the wand with impressive accuracy – there’s all sorts of augmented reality potential in the combination.
Build wise, the PlayStation Move is fantastic, and totally in keeping with Sony’s controller design ethos. It’s bigger than a Wii Remote but lighter, and feels just like you were holding the DualShock, in the same way the Wii remote and nunchuk still somehow manages to make you feel like you’re holding an N64 or GameCube controller. The plastic is sturdy, and the large Move button on the front and trigger on the back help you navigate games and the XMB very easily. The illuminated squishy ball on the top is childish but brilliant, and the colour coordination makes it very easy to know which wand to use. The only design issue we had was with the Select and Start button positioning: set in to either side, they require some serious effort to get at without long nails.
Set up meanwhile is incredibly easy: it really is a case of plug and play. If you were concerned about calibration issues with the PlayStation Move, you’ll be pleased to know it’s not as big an issue as you might have feared. Because the PlayStation Move tracks your position precisely, it does require calibration at the start of many a mini game or level, achieved by pointing the Move controller at the camera. But once you realise what each game requires, it’s easy to go through the motions in under a second – it’ll keep up.
There is unfortunately, one large and glaring problem with the PlayStation Move right now, and it’s not the price: we happen to think for the tech you’re getting, Sony’s priced the whole set up pretty reasonably (£34.99 per wand, plus £24.99 for the Eye camera, or £49.99 as a bundle – the Navigation controller is sold separately, and we weren’t able to test it for this review). No, it’s the feeble launch games that make the PlayStation Move a weak investment right now.
You can read about all three launch games for the PlayStation Move, Sports Champions, Start The Party! and Kung Fu Rider in their upcoming individual reviews, but even at a lower than usual £25 RRP, none are worth the money. Sports Champions is a decent but unimaginative knock off of Wii Sports/Sports Resort, with only table tennis really standing out of the six events available. Start The Party! is a heinous crime, and only the out and out insane Kung Fu Rider hints at any complexity with the controls, but even its replay value is limited.
This is not to say that the PlayStation Move is bad, or indeed that there aren’t even any promising games coming up for it. Far from it: we’re looking forward to integration in golf games and Heavy Rain, and the scope for revitalising the real time strategy genre on consoles with its accuracy is incredibly exciting (Can anyone say Starcraft 2 for PS3?). But for anyone who bought a four hundred quid PS3 on launch, and well versed in legendary games like Metal Gear Solid 4, Uncharted 2 or Fallout 3, right now there’s nothing ready for the PlayStation Move that will keep your interest for more than the space of a rental. And you wouldn’t want to buy all the gear just for that.
Unless you’re a hardcore gamer with kids of your own you’d like to entertain, this is one to watch for the timebeing, but keep a very close eye on it.