Sony's motion controlled gaming setup, PlayStation Move, has arrived in stores, and if you believe the hype, it's everything we wanted the Wii to be...and more. Is this the future of gaming or just another expensive set of peripherals that will be buried in the back of a cupboard by the end of the year? Read on for our review.
PlayStation Move's 1:1 controller tracking is just as precise as the Wii with its MotionPlus accessory, but also adds body tracking into the mix thanks to the PlayStation Eye camera. It's also $10 cheaper per player for a "complete" controller setup (Move + Navigation controller). The downside is that due to the limitations of Bluetooth, only two players will be able to simultaneously use a dual Move controller setup or a Move and Navigation controller setup, whereas the Wii can support four players.
The starter bundle, which includes the PlayStation Eye camera, a single Move controller, and the Sports Champions game is available for US$100 (though our readers outside the US should be aware that their PlayStation Move bundles may not include Sports Champions). Additional Move controllers are US$50 and Navigation controllers are US$30, though the only game I know of that requires a Navigation controller so far is Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition, which recently had Move support patched in.
The controllers are stuck with built-in, non-user replaceable lithium-ion batteries, and there's no automatic sleep mode after a period of inactivity, so you need to manually switch the controllers off when you're not using them. Anyone who's ever had a group of people over to play Wii or peripheral-based games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band will know that you always need a stack of AA batteries on hand to keep the action happening. Sony's choice of built-in batteries means you'll need to make sure everything is charged ahead of time, otherwise you'll have players out of action, waiting for controllers to charge over a USB cable.
The launch titles are a little underwhelming. The Blu-ray titles all come in at the second-tier US$40 price point, but for the most part, they feel like fleshed-out tech demos that would be better suited as $10-15 downloads from the PlayStation Network. Sports Champions is the exception, and by far the standout title so far. It's not that I didn't enjoy my time with Kung-Fu Rider and Start the Party, it's just that I would've felt a little hard done by had I spent US$40 on them. Luckily, there's demos of all the launch titles (and a few upcoming titles) available on the PlayStation Network.
While we can expect countless sports and party games for the casual set, the real test of PlayStation Move as a viable platform will be the games for the hardcore set - and the latest installments of popular franchises like Gran Turismo 5 (due November), Killzone 3 (2011) and SOCOM 4 (2011) are all set to feature Move support. I'm not only looking forward to playing these games, but really looking forward to seeing whether dual analogs or motion controls will emerge as the dominant control set for competitive online games (though my money is on motion controls).
Triple-A first-party titles aside, if the third-parties don't offer strong support for Move, the platform is going to become fairly stale by mid-2011. Over a year since the Wii MotionPlus launched, there's still under 20 games that can utilize the enhanced accuracy - I sincerely hope the same does not happen to Move.
At this stage, PlayStation Move is likely a hard sell for any gamers on a budget. The hardware is fantastic, and Sports Champions is a great launch title, but there's nothing truly revolutionary so far...if you've owned or played a Wii extensively, that is.
For people that already own a PlayStation Eye and/or existing games that have received free updates to add Move functionality, like High Velocity Bowling, Hustle Kings, Planet Minigolf, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 and Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition, a small outlay on a single player Move setup represents a much better value proposition.
Personally, I sold my Wii setup (which has been gathering dust for years) and stocked up with four Move controllers, and I'm considering heading down to the store today to pick up a Navigation controller and Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition in preparation for a lazy weekend.