The PlayStation Move is a new peripheral controller for the Sony PS3 video game console. As its name suggests, it uses physical movements to control the action onscreen, as opposed to a more traditional joystick/thumb-pad interface. If you're familiar with the Nintendo Wii, you should have a good idea of how the concept works — the influence is patently obvious.
What sets the PlayStation Move apart from the Wii is the sophistication of its technology. Unlike Nintendo’s ageing machine, the Move provides pinpoint accuracy in gaming. The PlayStation Move can therefore be viewed as an evolution of the Wii Remote — but for a rival console. It allows for far greater precision than its Nintendo predecessor, which translates to more complex and intuitive gaming. Subtle shifts in motion, such as rolling your wrist, are accurately translated into the game world. As you can imagine, this provides plenty of great gameplay potential.
In fact, 'potential' is a key word when it comes to describing the PlayStation Move. At present, its games line-up is a bit hit-and-miss, but the potential for greatness is definitely there. Whether you're a hardcore gamer looking for something fresh, or simply require a new toy for the family, we're confident that the PlayStation Move will deliver.Design
The PlayStation Move is a wand-shaped controller that incorporates a number of inbuilt motion sensors. It works in conjunction with the PlayStation Eye; a webcam-style camera that sits above or below your TV. Interestingly, the PlayStation Eye has been available since 2008, but until now its usability has been limited to a handful of games. The PlayStation Eye can be purchased separately for $49.95.
In conjunction with the Move controller, the PlayStation Eye tracks your true-to-life actions and turns them into precise in-game movements. Depending on the game you're playing, this might involve throwing a punch, stabbing a sword or swinging a golf club (to name just a few examples). The motion controller also has six primary buttons, including a rear-mounted trigger for shooters and action games.
The Move motion controller has a large spherical head that lights up in a variety of colours. These colours may indicate changes in a game's environment or the different powers your character has (e.g. selecting different types of spells in a fantasy game). The light also acts as an active marker, which allows the Eye camera to accurately track the controller's movements. Some games even require you to hide the light to remain undetected by enemies. In addition, the Move controller incorporates vibrating feedback similar to the PS3 Dual Shock controller. This helps to enhance the atmosphere in games (it says here).
Sony has also developed a secondary Move peripheral called the navigation controller. The navigation controller consists of an analog directional stick that connects wirelessly to the motion controller. This allows you to navigate your avatar around the game's world. (The concept is similar to the Nintendo Wii’s optional 'Nunchuk' peripheral.) The navigation controller retails for $49.95 and is only compatible with specific Move games.
The PlayStation Move is a well crafted gadget — both in terms of look and usage. It has been designed to work equally well in the left or right hand with all major buttons within easy reach of the index finger or thumb. The glowing orb-like head is quite a sight to behold in the dark; especially when it shifts between colours. Meanwhile, the sleek black shaft fits in well with the PS3 aesthetic.
In case you were wondering, the PlayStation Move is compatible with all versions of the PlayStation 3 console. In other words, it will work fine with old, pre-Slim models.Setup process
Setting up the PlayStation Move is a straightforward process — in theory, at least. The PlayStation Eye, which connects to the PS3 via a USB cable, was tricky to position due to smallness of its stand. It frequently toppled over while we attempted to swivel the camera’s head. Depending on your patience threshold, some Blu-Tack may be required to hold the device in place.
Once a Move game has been loaded up, the PS3 asks you to calibrate your controller. This involves holding the Move in specific positions while pressing the trigger button. For Move novices, this generally takes two or three attempts to get right, which can naturally lead to frustration. That said, the process soon becomes second nature.
If you plan to play the Move with friends, you’re going to need a fairly spacious living area. A small room simply won’t provide enough space for multiple players. This is a flaw that the PlayStation Move shares with the Nintendo Wii (and presumably Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360, which launches next month). On the plus side, the Move’s spherical head is constructed from soft rubber, which should cut down on controller-related injuries.Games
The PlayStation Move is attempting to provide the best of both worlds, with games that appeal to both casual and serious gamers. We tested the gadget with a self-confessed 'hardcore gamer' and a child who was all of two years old — neither of whom wanted to stop playing.
Some of the PlayStation Move's launch titles include Sports Champions (which features archery, table tennis, and gladiatorial combat), Kung Fu Rider (a comedy ride-an-office chair game), a bare-knuckle brawler called The Fight: Lights Out, and the third-person adventure game Sorcery. As you can see, a breadth of gaming styles and genres are being represented.
Sony is also re-releasing select PlayStation 3 games with added Move functionality (examples include Heavy Rain and Dead Space: Extraction). Apart from the Move controls, these games will play identically to the originals. This is achieved via a firmware update, so there's no need to buy the games again if you already own them.
While some of these launch games leave a lot to be desired (Kung Fu Rider is especially poor), they give a good indication of the Move’s potential. Take Sports Champions for example. While the game itself is little more than a casual diversion, it ably demonstrates what can be achieved with the Move controls. The archery event feels incredibly authentic — especially when using two Move controllers (indeed, many Move games are vastly superior with a controller in each hand). Likewise, the gladiator event makes us wonder what Namco could do with this technology. Soul Calibur Move might sound like a gimmick, but it might just work...
As with any new technology, the games on offer will only get better and more sophisticated as time goes on. (Just look at the PlayStation 3's shoddy launch line-up back in 2006.) Sony seems committed to supporting its new peripheral — for starters, it's a sure-fire way to lengthen the lifespan of the console. Even Sony's AAA titles are receiving the Move treatment, such as the hotly anticipated Killzone 3. In short, early Move adopters are going to be pretty spoiled for choice.Pricing and additional accessories
If you don’t already own a PlayStation Eye camera, you will need to purchase a Move Starter Pack. The Move Starter Pack comes bundled with a PlayStation Eye, one Move controller and a demo disc for $99.95. Additional Move controllers cost $69.99 a pop.
To get the most out of the Move experience — even in single-player — you’ll need at least two Move controllers. This ramps the total cost up to around $170, which does seem pretty steep for an add-on peripheral; especially one that doesn’t come with any games. Throw the navigation controller into the mix and you're looking at over 200 smackaroos. (To be fair, this is around the same price you'd pay for a Guitar Hero instrument bundle.)
There are several accessories available for the PlayStation Move. These include a charging station which lets you charge your Move controllers wirelessly, and a PlayStation Move shooting attachment.
This replicates the look and feel of a handgun and is designed for first-person shooting games. We've only had a brief go on the PlayStation Move shooting attachment, but it seems to replicate the 'light gun' experience well. (Compatible games include Time Crisis: Raising Storm and The Shoot.) A rifle version is also reportedly in the works.Conclusion
The PlayStation Move strikes a good balance between family fun and 'hardcore' gaming. Sony has clearly gone to pains to provide something for everyone, for which the company should be commended. Some of its games are best left on the shelves, but the same could be said of any video games console. We think it has the potential to be one of the best gaming peripherals this side of the gamepad. Highly recommended.