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Is there any hope left for PlayStation Move?

When Sony announced PlayStation Move back at E3 2009, the device was met with a somewhat muted response from consumers and critics alike. After all, Nintendo had already cornered the market of controller waggling grannies and soccer mom’s with its ubiquitous Wii console, and for many, PS Move was ostensibly Sony’s own attempt at cashing in on this admittedly lucrative market. Fast forward to September 2010, and the motion-sensing controller finally hit store shelves, where it faced direct competition from Microsoft Kinect, which was basically Xbox 360’s answer to motion gaming. While both devices seemed neck-and-neck, it became abundantly clear later down the line that PS Move wasn’t quite attracting the attention Sony had in mind.

Now, nearly three years since the veil was lifted off PS Move, Sony’s waggle stick appears to be running on fumes. Compatible titles are drying up, and even those we’ve had don’t seem to be generating much interest among the hardcore crowd. The problem? PS Move hasn’t delivered that killer, standout triple-A offering that convinces gamers to dust off their controllers and embrace the motion-sensing shenanigans. Sure, there’s a few decent offerings, notably Killzone 3, House of the Dead 3 & 4 and Sports Champions, but is that enough to sway people away from Wii or convince them that PS Move offers something markedly different from the competition? Sadly, we think not.

As a piece of hardware, PS Move ticks all the boxes; it’s aesthetically pleasing, responsive and does what it says on the tin. Working in conjunction with PlayStation Eye, we can honestly say that we’ve found it just as competent as the Wii-mote, if not more so. However, whereas Nintendo’s white waggle stick has resonated with the mainstream, PS Move has failed to take off in the same manner. Just take a butcher’s at the software charts for the past couple of years; you’ll see plenty of Wii games, but hardly anything that takes advantage of PS Move. What’s worse, the games that do seem to sell well don’t really take full advantage of Sony’s motion-sensing peripheral, falling into the dreaded ‘tacked on’ category.

Sales started pretty strong, with Sony boasting shipments of 4.1 million globally in the two months since release, and to be fair industry watchers have indicated the device is snapping at the heels of Kinect. However, the problem is, the peripheral just doesn’t offer that transformative experience that Sony was perhaps banking on. Looking at the software, it’s difficult to see something that you can’t get elsewhere. Ultimately, what does PS Move offer that differentiates itself from Wii and Kinect? We think you’ll be hard pressed to find something, to be honest.

Look at Killzone 3. It’s a solid, triple-A shooter that functions pretty well with PS Move, and also takes advantage of the sharpshooter attachment. But does it really offer a new layer of immersion than you would get if you had plumped for a bog-standard DualShock 3? Not really. It’s merely an interesting alternative. Then there’s Datura, an intriguing, Myst-esque adventure that shows plenty of promise but feels underdeveloped and ultimately is just too short and niche to find its way to mainstream success. Meanwhile, Dead Space: Extraction, House of the Dead: Overkill, 3 and 4 are great old-school shooters that puts PS Move to good use, but you can find similar games on the Wii – it’s nothing ground-breaking, and not likely to sway you off the fence.

Sorcery has been touted as THE PS Move game to turn heads, though unfortunately even this falls short of delivering on its promise. While the foundations for a brilliant Move game are there, the whole affair seems disappointingly perfunctory, and spamming spells with Sony’s motion-sensing controller with little to no tactical flare seemed akin to just unloading an Uzi at your adversaries. Furthermore, it fails to register spells at the best of times, making the general gameplay an exercise in sheer frustration. Even the PS Move’s showpiece launch title, Sports Champions, which is basically Sony’s stab at Wii Sports, failed to offer anything more compelling than the Wii’s own efforts. In fact, while there’s definitely some solid gameplay to be had, the game is a bit of a mixed bag, with many titles lacking any discernible advantage over the endless amount of shovelware you’d find on Nintendo’s console.

PS Move needs that killer, transformative experience that takes full advantage of the tech on offer, while simultaneously standing out from anything Wii or Kinect offers. A unique game, built from the ground up, and more importantly, something original. Shooters are a dime a dozen, we’d like to see something along the lines of Datura, albeit on a far grander scale with slightly more intuitive controls.

So anyway, that’s our two cents on the subject. No one can deny PS Move is a capable piece of kit, and a few games have shown some decent promise. However, the peripheral has yet to offer any bold, innovative leaps forward in motion-control gaming, and we’ve still yet see that killer app that Sony promised a few years back. Can the company still deliver? It’s open to debate, but all eyes are on E3 to see what’s in the pipeline…