What Exactly is the Motion Control and What Do You Need to Play?
The PlayStation Move consists of two parts: Sony's PlayStation Eye camera, and a wireless, Bluetooth-enabled wand that looks a little like the Nintendo Wiimote, except it has an illuminated orb attached to its top. Your investment will vary depending on the PS3 equipment you already own.
Sony offers various PlayStation Move bundles. If you aren't a PlayStation 3 owner, you can get the $399.99 Sports Champion Move bundle, which consists of a PS3 console, one PlayStation Move controller, a PlayStation Eye camera, a copy of Sports Champion (a Move-enabled game title), and a Move demo disk. If you have PS3, but you don't have a PlayStation Eye, you can opt for the $99.99 PlayStation Move Bundle, which is just the Sports Champion bundle sans console. If you already have a PS3 with a PlayStation Eye, you can buy the $49.99 Move Motion Controller, which is a single Move controller and nothing else. It's worth noting, however, that certain game titles require two Move controllers. We tested the $100 Move Bundle with a second controller.
Sony also offers the PlayStation Move Navigation Controller, a supplementary device used in select games to give you more standard game controls. Sony's Web site has more information on requirements, bundles, and pricing. To compare, Microsoft's Kinect will consist of a single $150 accessory.
PlayStation Motion Control Setup and Menu Navigation
Setup is simple: After charging our Move controllers for two hours (via the PlayStation 3's USB ports), I unplugged them and connected the PlayStation Eye camera, positioning it at the base of the HDTV, though you can also place it on top of the TV. I inserted the Sports Champion disc, and powered on a Move controller by pressing the center button and holding the T button (the trigger on the back of the Move controller). The PlayStation Eye camera recognized the controller almost instantaneously, and the rubbery ball on top glowed with white light.
You can use the Move controller to navigate menus; simply press and hold the T button and position the large circular cursor over an icon. Clicking the center Move button confirms your selection. I like the PlayStation Move's spin on navigation and menu selection better than the Wii's, as it's far easier to see that you've moused over the right option. The Wii's gloved hand icon is small and can be easily lost at times.
Calibration and Motion Gameplay
Sports Champion Move is Sony's version of Wii Sports (), and includes six games: Archery, Beach Volleyball, Bocce, Disc Golf, Gladiator Duel, and Table Tennis. Each game demands that you calibrate the Move controller(s) by centering yourself in an on-screen frame, raising the stick to your shoulder, lowering your arm, and bringing it to your waist (and pressing the confirm button after each).
Archery, Beach Volleyball, Bocce, Disc Golf, and Table Tennis were light, casual games that felt very much like your typical Wii titles—their gameplay elements are comprised mainly of basic arm gestures. There are a mix of easy-to-jump into single controller titles (such as Disc Golf) and multi-controller titles (such as Archery) that demand that you physically duplicate a real-world action (i.e., holding a virtual bow and pulling back an arrow). Both gameplay types were remarkably smooth in their execution.
Firing up Table Tennis (or any other two player game) caused the PlayStation Move to enter a split-screen calibration mode. Once the Move controllers were calibrated, a coworker and I engaged in a lively game of table tennis where we saw our onscreen characters hit the ball in tandem with our arm swings. I was impressed to see our characters switch their stances when we tested the PlayStation Move's accuracy by switching from right-hand controller grips to left handed ones.
My favorite Sports Champion game is Gladiator Duel, a weapon-based fighting game, offers much more depth. The game (which felt a lot like a modern take on Alpha Denshi's Crossed Swords for NeoGeo) is played with two Move sticks. One is your sword, and the other is your shield. Parrying, shield thrusting, dodging, and striking felt very natural and fluid—I didn't feel as though there was a barrier between the game and me. In a very cool sequence that was activated by building my super-move meter and pressing the X button, I had to quickly execute a series of slashes (which I was encouraged to do courtesy of on-screen motion streaks) that put major hurt on my opponent as I pounded him in the air and on the ground.
Occasionally, the PlayStation Move would miss an input (this occurred mostly in Table Tennis, which required a fine touch to hit the small ball), but overall I was impressed with its accuracy performance. In my tests, the PlayStation Eye camera (which can be adjusted to pick up a wider area of the environment by twisting its lens) did an excellent job of staying connected to the Move controllers—not once in my hours of gameplay did the PlayStation Move drop its wireless connection, which is something that has happened to me while playing the Wii. As far as range, I wouldn't recommend playing Bocce from half a room away, but you should experience smooth gameplay if you're within 10 feet of the PlayStation Eye.
The Move Library
According to Sony, more than two dozen Move-enabled games will available this holiday season including EyePet (an interactive virtual pet), The Fight: Lights Out (a motion-controlled brawler), NBA 2K11 (exact Move implementation is still unknown), and Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition (the Move controller replaces the standard controller for more accurate shooting). Typical PlayStation Move titles should be priced around the same as standard PlayStation 3 games.
The Motion-Controlled Movement
Overall, the PlayStation Move does exactly what it set out to accomplish: bring very accurate motion controls to the PS3. My one issue with the PlayStation Move—and it's less a gripe, and more a fear—is now that Sony supports motion gameplay, many budget-priced, poorly developed motion control shovelware titles that once lived exclusively on the Wii (like Pool Party, for example) will be ported over the system. Surely Sony wants to capture a portion of the casual gaming audience that Nintendo has snatched up, but given the PS3's advanced graphics, the PlayStation Move can be more than just a casual platform. Hopefully future titles like Dead Space: Extraction and Killzone 3 will successfully implement motion control for hardcore gamers.
Right now, if you're willing to pay for the necessary hardware, the Move platform will bring a new dimension to your PS3 gaming experience. And the future should bring plenty of games that span a wide variety of genres to keep you pleased. It will be interesting to see how it fares against the Kinect and the Wii itself when the motion wars heat up later this year.