The PlayStation Move has been with us for two weeks now, which has given us plenty of time to get to grips with it. After playing all of the available games and demos, it’s time to give a more considered opinion on the new controller setup.
The motion controller’s rounded body is much more comfortable to hold than the blocky Wiimote and your thumb is perfectly posed to use the main buttons. The Move button (the one with the squiggly line) is centrally placed for ease-of-use for its general function of selecting items in menus. The traditional PlayStation face buttons of X, Square, Triangle and Circle are placed to the side of the Move button. It takes a while to get used to where they are. It would have been too awkward to reach above and below the Move button if they were laid out in the traditional style, but I can’t help but feel the actual buttons should have been a bit bigger. The Trigger button (or T) is located underneath the controller and it has a curved edge to allow better grip, if only they’d done that with L2 and R2 on the PS3 pad too. It’s nice and springy allowing for various amounts of pressure.
The Home button is located below the Move one and is used to turn on the controller and sometimes for recalibration. The Start and Select buttons are hidden around the side of the controller. While some have complained they are awkward to reach with your thumb, that’s kind of the point. You’re less likely to press it by mistake, meaning you or your mates won’t accidentally pause the game all the time.
The controller is very light, which is surprising seeing as it has a rumble motor inside it too. The ball on top is soft and squishy to the touch. This will help if you’re prone to swinging these things around a bit too wildly in a crowded room and hopefully if you torpedo it into your TV. Or you could just wear the wrist-strap to be safe.
If you’ve read any of my reviews, you’ll know that this motion controller works really well when the developers put the effort in. Not only is the angle you hold the controller at perfectly represented, the speed is too. Play table tennis or gladiator duals with soft swings and you’ll get nowhere. Whereas if you really put some grunt into a swing there’s a noticeable difference in how hard the ball is struck or how much damage you cause. You might want to warm-up those muscles before getting stuck in. I’m not even kidding; you’ll be a wreck if you don’t.
There are a few duff games out there that you should probably avoid, like Kung Fu Rider and Racquet Sports. The demo for the latter is laughably bad, as it doesn’t react to the power or angle of your swings anywhere near as well as the table tennis in Sports Champions. There are plenty of other interesting demos for you to try out though including Beat Sketcher, Echochrome ii, Tumble and The Shoot. All of which show the accuracy of the controller really well.
Move uses similar Bluetooth technology to the PS3 pads and also features a built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery. You can charge it with a mini USB cable, which will take around five hours to give you ten hours of play. That’s a long charge time compared to the pads, but if you’ve got two controllers it won’t be much of an issue.
The PS Eye
Some of you may already own the camera from years ago when a tiny selection of games became available on the PSN and then you only occasionally used it for the odd title like Burnout: Paradise. All Move titles so far have required the wide angle lens (you just need to turn it, there’s no fiddly lens attachment). There are a few microphones in there too, which is utilised in Start the Party, but you have to get pretty close to it to get a good read.
The camera tracks the glowing ball on the controller. So if you put the ball behind you, you might get an error message popping up saying the camera can’t see it. Some games like the upcoming The Shoot, sometimes require you to do a 360 degree horizontal spin, but the game doesn’t panic for such a brief movement. The archery in sports champions was one of the few times I had to be careful as I sometimes reached too far for an arrow behind me, moving the ball behind my head. A bit of practice though and it was no longer an issue.
The ball changes colour depending on the game. Sometimes it changes to indicate a different action, or it might have different colours for multiplayer or to indicate the left or right controller. I’ve also heard that the ball will change to stand out against the background of the room more, so the Eye can track it better. I didn’t really find this to be the case though as I tried with a few contrasting backgrounds and was given the manly neon pink light every time. Damnit.
There are gyros inside the controller too that do a lot of work tracking the motion and angle, hell you can play Kung Fu Rider sat down with the ball completely covered and it plays the same (badly by the way).
Most games play ok in darker (think early evening) rooms, thanks to the glowing orb. Just bear in mind what it might look like through your curtains outside your house though as two neon balls dart around your room. Awesome is how it’ll look. Titles that put a live feed of the room work better in good light, but work much better than the PS2 EyeToy Play titles that required perfect lighting and often went nuts with shadows or lamps.
The only time I ran into trouble was one mid-morning play session where it was really bright outside. Having light curtains did little to shield the TV from the sun’s glare as the room was illuminated in a cursed heavenly glow. I kept getting error messages because the camera couldn’t read the pink light on the controller. Maybe it should have changed to something a little harsher like the red or green colour to stand out a bit more, but it didn’t.
That was just the once though, probably the last sunny day of the year to be honest around the North of England. If you’ve got some dark curtains or you can move your TV a little you’ll be fine. Or just wait till the sun gets out of the way.
The one other issue I have with the camera is the lack of HD. The games that put you onto the screen have a really grainy picture, which is better than blurry I guess. A HD webcam would have probably driven up the costs though in fairness.
The best position for the Eye will depend on where your TV is. If it’s on a knee high stand then I’d recommend putting it on top and maybe angling it down slightly. If you have the TV mounted on the wall, quite high up, maybe put the Eye directly below it and angle it upwards. I found that having the Eye around shoulder level (when playing standing up) seems to work best. Just remember to keep it in the middle of the TV and facing forwards.
Sports Champions recommends you stand about eight feet from your TV. Even with some drastic furniture shoving, this is a large distance. I found that playing from around five feet away was totally fine, just make sure you’re a full arm swing away from hitting your TV. Use the table tennis game to see how much you can get away with, as that’s the game that reads forward and backwards steps the most.
Many titles ask for frequent calibration, especially during multiplayer. It’s simple to do and not very time consuming. Don’t worry about trying to line up your height to the example box in titles like Sports Champions, just make sure your arms are inside the recommended area. I even found that you didn’t always have to recalibrate when changing between players of various heights, so I’d advise seeing how much you can get away with before heading to the calibrate menu during multiplayer changeovers. It doesn’t matter if you wander to the side a little either.
From what I've seen so far I'm really impressed with how most of the early games are turning out and can't wait for the next batch of releases. Right, I need to find a spade; I've got a Wii to bury.
Sony’s PlayStation Move has raised the bar for motion control with a number of early titles showing the true 1:1 tracking in full effect with a terrific sports title and a fun party game. We’re really looking forward to trying out other titles like Heavy Rain, Sorcery, Heroes on the Move and Killzone 3 to see how ‘gamer’s games’ hold up.
We’d love to know what you guys think of the Move if you’ve had a go. What games do you like? What don’t you like? What are you looking forwards to? Or are you still undecided about purchasing one? Feel free to fire off any questions and we’ll try and help out.