PlayStation Move, Sports Champions, Start the Party and Kung Fu Rider – The PS3 Attitude Review
The all important question, therefore, is this – is the PlayStation Move actually any good?
PlayStation Move was announced in June 2009 at E3, although it was some time before it was officially named. We were there to see the action unfold and the best we could come up with on the day was the PlayStation Waggle. Many of you were more inventive when we ran one of PS3 Attitude’s most popular polls, although over 75% of you chose a name we wouldn’t want to repeat here.
Despite the journey from Waggle to Arc to Move, the unit itself hasn’t changed much from the prototype we saw in 2009. The PlayStation Move feels solid and assured in the same way that the Dual Shock 3 does. Like the Wii, this motion controller has buttons – a much needed addition to the motion control experience as far as we’re concerned. The one issue this reviewer has always had with the EyeToy and, more recently, Microsoft’s Kinect, is the immediacy and gaming control afforded by buttons in comparison to waving your hand over an augmented reality button.
On the PS Move you’ll find the square, triangle, square and circle buttons. You’ll also find a PS button and a new option – the Move button. On the sides of the controller you’ll find the Start and Select buttons, and underneath there is a single trigger. You can tell from the design that the Move button and Trigger are the most important of all the buttons, which leads us to believe that many developers will be focusing on using the motion controls with those two options in their game design.
The glowing ball that sits atop the Move is made of a rubber-like material and, as a result, will withstand any amount of squishing, prodding, poking and dropping. At the base of the Move there is a mini-USB port and a proprietary external device connector that will be used within add-ons such as the forthcoming gun attachment. The final part of the puzzle is a strong lanyard that ensures you won’t see the Move flying across the room, only to embed itself in your TV/dog/trifle (delete where appropriate).
The PS Move can be used to control the XMB. You simply hold the Move button and wave left, right, up and down to slide around the various menus. It seems a little over-sensitive at first, but you get used to it pretty quickly. In the settings you can choose to calibrate your Move device, which takes you through a set of movements to ensure the PS3 is reading the motion sensors properly. Unfortunately, you have to cup the ball of the Move when doing this, so it does feel a little like you’re giving your PlayStation 3 a hernia examination.
So the hardware stacks up nicely. How about the games? We were given three titles to review.
Kung Fu Rider also had a name change as it went from development to production. Originally called Slider, the idea is that you take control of one of two available characters and attempt to escape the Triads by rolling down the road on various objects. You start off with an office chair, but soon you can move up to all manner of wheeled devices.
Using the Move, you can slide left or right, go faster, jump, grind, punch, kick and duck, avoiding obstacles along the way and taking out enemies as they attempt to knock you off your chosen mode of transport. Rolling down each course, the idea is to make sure you survive to the end while collection as much money as possible. You’ll find various optional routes that offer bonus cash, and there is an extensive tutorial that teaches you the gestures you’ll need to perform for each different motion.
Whilst Kung Fu Rider is good fun initially, we did find it the weakest of the three titles on review. We found that sometimes the controls would get confused. Instead of going faster when waggling the Move up and down, for instance, we often found that this was mis-identified as a ‘jump’ command. More importantly, this particular reviewer just didn’t find the game a lot of fun.
Thankfully, the other two titles available for review faired much better.
Start the Party is a throwback to the EyeToy games we got so excited about on the PS2. Back then, we’d be rubbing soapy windows and spanking monkeys with the best of them – yes, the double-en-tendre possibilities of the old EyeToy games were never lost on us.
Start the Party has game modes for both solo players and up to four people sharing the same PS Move controller. The idea is pretty simple, and always highly intuitive. Various mini-games appear on screen, and it is your job to complete them as well or as quickly as possible, depending on what game appears.
What is nice about Start the Party is that your PS Move gets an augmented reality twist as it changes from game to game. One minute you’re wielding your mighty sword (yes, the double-en-tendre opportunities continue) and the next it changes to a mallet, toothbrush or pickaxe.
You may have to clean the teeth of a crocodile before his mouth snaps shut. You might have to guide some falling chicks into their nest as they fall from the sky using an electric fan. Despite the fact that tutorials are available to guide you through each mini-game, they are never needed as the action is so easy to work out.
In multi-player mode, Start the Party is great fun although there aren’t enough mini-games included on the disc, and they do start to repeat quite quickly. In solo play, there isn’t much this game offers the player and you certainly wouldn’t want buy this if you were Billy No-mates. But for family gaming that is a lot of fun, Start the Party is a worthy addition to the Move’s lunch line-up.
The best of the three titles, by some distance, is Sports Champions.
Sports Champions is going to inevitably be compared to Wii Sports in almost every review. And whilst parallels can be drawn, there is enough here to let Sports Champions stand on its own two feet.
When you launch the game you’ll be faced with a slick menu that gives you access to a number of sports to play in both single and multi-player formats.
Included on the disc are a mix of traditional sports and some real left-field additions. Let’s cover them all in detail.
Bocce is an Italian ‘boules’ game that is similar to the French pétanque, where you set the position of a small ball and then try to throw larger balls as close to it as possible. Playing in various arenas that offer different difficulties and playing surfaces, such as a traditional soil ‘court’, a pier that has warped floorboards or a local park, varies the gameplay each time you pick up the PS Move. Throwing the balls couldn’t be easier – just hold down the Trigger and then perform an underarm throw like you would if you were playing the game for real. Let go of the Trigger to release the ball.
The movement and control couldn’t feel more natural. You can even add topspin, backspin and rotational spins to the ball as you throw it, and it all feels like you’re throwing a real ball.
In Disc Golf you’re playing a game this particular reviewer used to get involved in heavily as a kid, and the action of throwing the Frisbee is incredible. Once again, you hold the Trigger to hold your flying disc, and then you do a standard release motion as you would a real Frisbee, releasing the Trigger in exactly the same way as you’d release your grip. The idea is simple – reach the ‘basket’ in as few throws as possible.
The courses are challenging and as you move in Champion Cup mode from bronze through silver and then gold levels, the target basket becomes smaller. The motion is perfect – everything you can do with a real flying disc can be done here, including alternate throws, left or right bends and even spinning 360 degrees before release to really get distance on your launch.
Table Tennis is by far the hardest game to master in Sports Champions because of the sheer accuracy of the PlayStation Move, but once you manage to work out the rotation, position, timing and power you’ll find one of the most enjoyable and rewarding sports games to date on your PS3. Again, the accuracy is amazing, and you can pull off subtle controls including topspin and ‘cutting’ the ball to make it spin back on the table. If you hit the ball hard enough, you can even make it catch on fire, reminding you that this is – indeed – a video game after all.
If you want a workout, Gladiator Duel is the game for you. Here, you get to wield your mighty sword (what, the same smutty pun twice in one article?) and a sturdy shield against an opponent who only cares about one thing – taking you down. In addition to swiping the sword at their head, mid-section and legs you can thrust the sword forwards, batter them with your shield and block their attacks. Every block fills up a power meter that allows you to unleash a powerful combo attack, during which you’ll have to move the controller in the direction shown on screen. Finally, you get a jump attack for when you’ve forced your opponent to the floor, and recovery moves for if they do the same to you.
You’re going to burn a lot of calories playing Gladiator Duel, and if you haven’t done a lot of exercise recently, be ready for your shoulder muscles to remind you they exist the next morning!
In Archery, you have to do exactly what you’d expect – drawn an arrow from your quiver, string it, pull back and let it loose toward a number of targets. Sometimes these are stationery, sometimes they move. Once again, the actions required to play this game feel just like using a real bow, and in Champion Cup mode there is a lot of fun to be had as you play various mini-games against an ever-improving range of AI opponents.
Finally, Beach Volleyball makes a bid for your attentions. In this game, you don’t have to worry about moving your player around the court – that is handled for you. Instead, you have to keep the ball up, set it for your team-mate to spike, spike the ball yourself, dive to recover your opponent’s spikes or block their attempts at the net. It looks like a proper volleyball game. It feels like one. This game is not as much of a workout as Gladiator Duel, but you’ll still work up a sweat on the beach.
Sports Champions is the game that you’ll keep going back to. In Champion Cup mode you go up against ten AI characters in bronze, silver and gold levels. The difficulty and progression is excellent and always leaves you feeling that you should have ‘just one more go’. Once you’ve unlocked Challenge Mode, there is an opportunity to try and set the best high score for a set challenge on each sport, and these are great fun to play too. Finally, you have a multi-player mode whereby you can forego the AI and take on another human being instead.
Sports Champions is remarkably good, and the title that everyone buying a PS Move should have from day one. The graphics are superb throughout too, so it always looks like a PS3 title and not a cheap port of any other sports motion control game out there.
When all is said and done, the PlayStation Move is a superbly accurate and fun device that – along with 3D gaming – is set to change the landscape of the PS3 for good. If you’re thinking of holding off and waiting see what the future holds for the Move before committing, think again. It really is the game changer we’ve been looking for.
Buy the Move Starter Bundle from – Amazon (UK) : Amazon (US) : GAME : Play.com
Buy Sports Champions from – Amazon (UK) : Amazon (US) : GAME : Play.com
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We weren’t able to review the optional Navigation Controller or gun attachment at time of press – look out for more PlayStation Move hardware reviews in the near future.