Playstation Move Review
I’m trying to resist the use of the words that imply mediocrity as I write this review, because in all fairness, Playstation Move is a really strong and intuitive motion control device. It works. It works well. That’s not an unimpressive feat.
Or at least, it wasn’t until a few years ago, when Nintendo released Wii.
At the time, I thought that for the most part, the Wii did a stellar job of creating intuitive, responsive motion control, and for my part, I was skeptical that it could be done.
So I’m trying to avoid skepticism when dealing with the Move, because it does motion control, and it does it quite well. The problem is, the Move is years late to this party and it isn’t exactly bringing strippers and top-shelf liquor. It’s certainly not a Mii-killer.
The Move works almost exactly as well as the Wii, and maybe a fraction better. That’s the good news. Anyone who doesn’t own a Wii but does have a Playstation 3 now has access to a set of motion controls that’s on par with the industry standard.
But for my part, I was hoping to see something bigger and better with Move. Having messed around with Kinect at Comic Con, I can say that that system brings a different dynamic to motion control by knocking out the use of the controller. Move has no such radical innovation, at least in its packaged game, despite working in a very similar way to Kinect.
Even though Move tracks your controllers’ motion in 3D space and Wii doesn’t, that doesn’t make it really feel that much more intuitive, realistic, or fun. It still feels like Wii. Just because it works better doesn’t mean Move as a control system immediately blows out its competition in a visceral way right out of the box. Because of this, it falls to Sony finding killer software to pair with it to make it really stand up against its competitors. Playstation Move isn’t worth buying for its own sake.
Prepare Your Wallet for a Shock
First off, the whole system feels cost-prohibitive. Comparing it with the Wii, at first it seems to stack up fairly well: the Move bundle system, which includes the Playstation Eye camera, a Move controller and Sports Champions, the PS3 equivalent of Wii Sports, will set you back $100. Additional motion controllers each cost $50 more. The Navigator controller, which has D-Pad buttons, shoulder buttons and an analog stick (it’s equivalent to Wii’s nunchuck) goes for $30.
Compare that to Wii controllers, which go for $45 a pop for the base unit, plus the nunchuck add-on, which is around another $20. The Wii comes with a controller and sensor bar when you buy the system, as well as Wii Sports in the original bundles. Move costs more, but not much more.
Where Move seems to get out of hand is when you factor in the fact that many games, even in the Sports Champions loadout, are best played with two Move controllers — one in each hand. Suddenly it feels like Sony has you in their monetary death grip, and there’s no getting loose.
But to be fair, playing games with two Move controllers is where the motion system really excels. Playing with one controller is competent — playing the games that use a motion-sensitive input in each hand are easily the most fun.
Two Controllers Works Great
A good example is Sports Champions’ Gladiator Duel game. The controller in one hand represents a sword; the one in the other is a shield. It’s interesting the depth that the simple addition of a second motion controller adds to the game. The sword-fighting minigame is really not fun with a single controller. It’s clunky and difficult to play, it requires a lot of less-than-intuitive thinking, and it just doesn’t feel right. But add a second controller, and suddenly sword-fighting takes on a whole new level of fun. It demands a lot of concentration and holding those two controllers gets pretty close to the visceral response that motion-control games are going for in the first place.
Move’s biggest asset is the ability to bring more of the player’s body into the game. The addition of a second controller does this nicely in a lot of ways, and the physicality of actually holding an object, instead of just pretending to, gives it something more in the way of a natural feeling that Kinect seems to lack.
But remember when we were talking price? That means if you want to play Gladiator Duel with a friend, you need not two controllers, but four. Out of the box, you need to drop $250 to play Playstation Move the way it’s meant to be played. If you already have a PS3.
To put it plainly: that sucks.
Sony Could Have Tried Harder
There are other little issues that feel like Sony just didn’t try that hard, as well. Wii’s sensor bar, the thing that detects the motion controller’s aim, comes with a light, enormously long hookup cable. Move’s Playstation Eye camera has some sort of heavy duty USB cable that easily outweighs the camera. Don’t try putting this thing on top of your TV, because the cable will drag it off. And the cable is a little too short to effectively run it through an entertainment system or put it on top of a big TV anyway. These stupid hindrances could easily have been avoided by Sony, but shortcuts and cost-cutting stick you with equipment that just doesn’t conform well to being used.
And if you thought Move was going to avoid the irritating pitfall of being slapped onto every stupid new Playstation game just to increase the add-on’s library, think again. Just like Nintendo is constantly rubber-stamping mostly lame, gimmicky little games, Sony is willing to cram Move support into games that don’t want or need it, creating substandard Move titles.
I recently reviewed NBA 2K11, in which this exact scenario played out. Here was a great game that felt like it picked up Move support at the eleventh hour, and the result was a tacked on, useless control scheme. It felt dumb. (Oh, and don’t forget — in a situation like that, you’ll want to purchase the Move Navigator Controller at yet another $29.99. You can use a regular DualShock 3 controller instead of the Navigator, if you want to practice balancing the controller in one hand while playing uncomfortably.)
Sorry, I’m doing it again. I’m really not that down on the Move — I like it. It works the way it should. I played Gladiator Duel well into the night once I got hold of a second controller, and it was fun like I remember having when the Wii first landed in my living room.
But Move is not the Second Coming of motion control, and I’m not even sure it’s the hardcore gamer’s answer to the Wii’s pandering to the little sister demographic. For the most part, right out of the box, it plays like a Wii clone, unless you’ve got the extra bucks to lay down to help Move to hit its true potential. Even then, its ping-pong and archery are not exactly mind-blowing.
With a few great games that really capitalize on the hardware, Move could be more than worth it. But right now, there’s just not a lot to see here. Move along.
- Good motion controls that stand up to the standards set by Nintendo
- Works well technically — 3D tracking feels great and intuitive and never hinky
- Games that use two motion controllers are really fun and elevate the Move
- All the same party style, low-key fun you get from playing Wii games with friends.
- With good games, could be a great system
- Provides an alternative to the Wii with the same level of quality
- Uses controls and ideas that were innovative three years ago
- Doesn’t really set a new standard, and is pretty much exactly like the Wii, down to its sports game
- A little cost-prohibitive with the need for several extra controllers
- Camera is too light for its cord, which is too short