PlayStation Move: a review
Posted by Surface Lizard on Monday, 20th September, 2010
Surface Lizard spares no expense in his servitude to you good people. Without thought for self, I have purchased the PlayStation Move ‘starter kit’, as well as the secondary Navigation Controller. Not for my own flailing, gesticulating pleasure, but for the sake of information, and my beloved Veteran Gamers. Yes, motion control has been a concept that has existed in gaming for over two decades. Yes, Sony are aiming to capture a sliver of that market share pie that Nintendo’s imbecile-friendly Wii has all but monopolised. Yes, there will be direct competition, and doubtless manure-slinging rivalry, between Move and Kinect for those Christmas retail pounds. None of which matters. Can Move transform the PS3 into the console that ‘does everything’, as their marketing hyperbole claims? Do they have the technical nous to weather comparisons to the Wii Remote and Motion Plus? Does the glowing rubber bulb make you look like a dancer in a gay bar?
Setup of Move, as well as the PlayStation Eye, will realistically take as long as it does to read this paragraph. This assumes basic literacy skills, and not being a resident of the American deep south. Whilst the concept of a ‘setup process’ may sound intimidating for that casual audience that Sony are romancing, it is more akin to plug and play; which always struck me more as the name of some unholy android pornographic outing. Attach the Eye camera to the PS3 USB, connect the Move controller via USB cable (not supplied, shame, shame, Sony!), and it will synch with a simple stab of the PS button. Any easier, and it would have the morals of a dockyard whore. My sole concern is that the physical, paper documentation is rather shallow, in that it covers the absolute basics, but does not consider configuration, how to access such in the XMB, etc. Yes, a user can find this information online, but this makes the unjust assumption that every PS3 owner has the ability to take their PS3 online.
The Eye camera has been available for some time now, and needs no unique consideration, like the ugly girl at a party. In the ‘starter pack’ is the Eye camera, the lean documentation, the controller, and a demo Blu-ray. A demo disc. America gets Sports Champions free with the starter pack, and we get a demo disk, all of which are on the PSN Store already? Thanks, SCEE. Why not also come to my house and defecate into my mouth as further punishment for my brand loyalty?
Images never convey reality. Never date a girl having just seen photographs of her. Correspondingly, the Move controller, whilst larger than the Wii Remote, is slightly more bijou than I expected from images, and perfectly weighted. Yes, it might look like the kind of thing a lady would purchase at Ann Summers for some self-stimulation, but the bulb atop the controller cycles through subtle and almost pastel colour shades during use, neither too dim, nor too gaudy and distracting. Whilst the bulb might appear to be a liability, and easily broken, this is far from the case; the soft rubber is durable, and easily pops back to shape. I tested this by throwing it at several passing old ladies, who were too frail to give chase and soundly thrash me. Neither pensioner or Move controller were unduly harmed.
Manipulation and access to the buttons is immediately intuitive. Brilliantly, the Start and Select buttons on each side of the controller require some pressure to activate, which removes the possibility of accidental activation during a particularly wild thrashing session. As well as the primary buttons, and the new multi-purpose Move button, Wii owners will recognise the T button on the bottom of the controller, a trigger which is slightly larger, and with more play about it, than the L2/R2 buttons on a DualShock pad. Some might find the T button slightly over-sensitive, but again, this is easily adapted to.
The Navigation controller is equally a joy to wield, and cooperate with the Move controller. The parity of Wii Nunchuck and Remote is taken to the next level of control interaction and realism. The two shoulder buttons, on the reverse of the NavCon, are perfectly sized and reachable, and the analogue (sorry, US friends: analog) stick and D-pad have the same feel and solidity as a standard DualShock, complete with stick ‘click’ when pressed in. Curiously, there are only X and O buttons on the NavCon, when there is evident space for the other two face buttons as well. Of course, you could just attempt to use a DualShock controller in tandem with the Move controller, but this either requires freakish dexterity, a third arm, or some kind of Quato conjoined psychic, mutant, twin. Sony, at least, have given players the option of either choice, and have not enforced a NavCon purchase as a convenient revenue stream. Once again, the core market has been considered as much as the casual.
Sony have correctly guessed that an abundance of controllers does not a happy player make. If opting to play a Move-compatible title, the Move controller can be used to navigate the XMB (using tilt sensors, so the Eye is not a requisite for XMB navigation). Concerning the environment, I tested the controller in a degree of light conditions, from low light, to glaring artificial light to window backlighting, and found that, in all situations, performance was both precise and perfect. Physical space and dimension is also worthy of consideration. After all, if one believed the Move marketing propaganda, it would appear that we all play Move games in our palatially-sized living rooms, with acres of space, standing up and utilising a wide area. I am an apathetic dog, with limited room, and a proclivity for sitting. I found that Move worked exactly at distance, but also equally so in close proximity to the Eye, and seated, within five to six feet. Context is important, and distance will perhaps depend on the game (Sports Champions might require more space than, say, the meticulous dexterity of Tumble), but tracking was faultless throughout, and an informative message will always appear should the controller be moved beyond the range of the Eye, which can be harder to achieve than you might think.
One slight concern is that sense of dimension that also serves Move so well. Games that require a degree of space, due to the movement involved (sports titles, for example) are fine when played solus, and even with a second player. However, Move is being marketed, justifiably, as a social gaming phenomenon for the casual, as well as for the hardcore core gamer. Having neither four friends, not four controllers to test it, I can only theorise that four-player gaming on such a game that needs space to move and manoeuvre might well be problematic when considering the range of the Eye, especially for the players on the edges. I could be incorrect in this assumption, but it does bear consideration.
Calibration is key, and, the Move titles and demos that I have experienced all offer a visual calibration, with an ‘ideal position’ rectangular reticle to place yourself in, so there will never be any concern as to ideal positioning. Is the Move controller accurate? Astoundingly so. I will only draw this comparison once, but I found it superior to Wii Motion Plus in every way, in terms of the broad, sweeping, movements tracked, as well as the absolute minutia. I am a snivelling pedant, and to test this, I attached the Move controller to my camera tripod, for absolute inertia, and found that the slightest touch registered correspondingly. I was expecting something exact from Move, but even I was impressed by the almost atomic precision, such subtlety which might well remain unappreciated by players who flourish the controller with grand motions. The defining phrase of Move has been 1:1 tracking. I considered this the excitable hyperbole of marketing. I was both cynical, and wrong. From the sensation of control in Sports Champions, to the feeling of actually reaching ‘into’ the screen on Tumble, is uncanny, and exemplary. I was enthused about Killzone 3 Move support before I had used it. Now I am considering it a game-defining experience of precision.
In terms of the tracking and absolute accuracy of Move, this is not a paradigm shift of motion control. It is certainty a refinement and an advancement of accuracy and implementation. The blunt sense of family integration that was the core vision of the Wii, has been evolved by Sony to meet the needs of the more advanced titles for accuracy and options, hence the controller buttons both on controller and the additional NavCon; meaning that Move truly opens for proverbial door for core games, and not simply the inevitable run of Jedward Cake Making Party shovelware. The potential trade-off of accuracy for lateral range is only a slight potential pitfall. A controller is only as good as the games that accommodate it, and with the second generation of Move titles, I suspect that developers will be able to compensate and eradicate this occasional nuisance.
As any member of the Veteran Gamers forum will know, I am an unashamed PlayStation evangelist. Please note that I did not employ the term ‘fanboy’. I am first in line at the Ides of March to plunge the knife when Sony drop the ball. I am still furious about the lack of Sports Champions with the Move starter pack. Despite that, I can objectively claim that Sony have engineered Move to be inclusive, exact and adaptable. The single point of brilliance is, as I have mentioned, the inclusion of both the casual and core market due to the options offered by the controller. Pricing is perfect; from the reasonable £49.99 of the starter pack (even less if one purchases online, pop pickers!), to the pricing of the Move controller and the NavCon. Whilst Kinect is more costly, the price of Move does creep closer when additional controllers are factored. This generation of sales for the new control mediums will be more about performance and games than price.
I have used Move with several exclusive and compatible titles (R.U.S.E., Resident Evil 5, Tumble, EyePet, etc), and found that, in context to the game, and the control requirements, Move performs admirably, in all environment conditions, with accuracy that still leaves me aghast, and control contexts that feel intuitive and rational, and not simply contrived or ‘tacked on’ for the sake of mere gimmick. Perhaps the real bench test will be the arrival of Killzone 3 and SOCOM, at least for the core audience, but even the limited crop of launch titles and adapted existing games, prove that Move is another potent arrow in the Sony quiver. Sony have pitched it perfectly as an ADDITION to the PS3 experience, and not THE experience. Sports Champions sour grapes aside, I predict a solid future for Move; the hardware is capable, and the potential is present. Let us hope that the games arrive that will maximise and evolve the experience.
No, I am not giving Move a score out of 10. I detest them. Read a review, do not just scan for a number.
And, finally; remember, as the amusing instructional Move images warn us, do not use the Move controller as a pretext for punching your friends in the face. Or taking out your frustration on innocent lamps. I was half-expecting to see an image informing me that Move should not be used to stuff turkeys, clean toilets, or intimidate nervous children. My cat, I discovered, loves to watch the glowing bulb of the controller. Watching her watching it slightly unnerves me.
Surface Lizard signing out. Very precisely.
Surface Lizard wishes to place the caveat that the Move controller should in no way be used as a carnal pleasure device. This is based on experience. The staff at the Accident and Emergency department are still laughing at him, and the x-rays are very incriminating.