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PlayStation Move Review

14 September 2010

For as long as there’s been a PlayStation 3, Sony has consistently touted that all of its consoles are built and marketed with a 10-year life span. So when the PS3 was released, complete with its beefy horsepower and a price tag to match, Sony wanted to provide features later into its lifespan to increase the console’s appeal. One of those new features is nearly within consumers’ grasp—the PlayStation Move.

Move is the PS3’s answer to motion controls, and while strikingly similar to Nintendo’s Wii, it utilizes different technology that offers one-to-one tracking. Both systems use a wand-style motion controller, but while the Wii utilizes infrared technology, Move uses the PlayStation Eye webcam to track the glowing ball on top of the controller. On a simple level, the LED marker tracking system allows the PS Eye to determine the controller’s position and distance in the gaming environment. This technology allows three dimensional, highly accurate tracking of the Move controller.

Even with the addition of the Wii Motion Plus, Nintendo’s controller is not nearly as precise as Move. Furthermore, Move uses a three-axis linear accelerometer and an angular rate sensor to track rotation and movement. Even if the controller is hidden from the camera, say behind the user’s body, the internal magnetometer helps track Move and calibrate it against natural magnetic fields.  

This is all technical jargon, and there is plenty more we could include, that is absolutely not necessary to understand in order to play. All you need to know is that the technology in the little black wand, coupled with the PS Eye, brings you into the game, sometimes literally with games like EyePet and Start The Party. 

 

There are a few caveats that come along with all of this technology. Our review kit included two Move controllers, the PS Eye, and five games that will all be available at launch. As this writer was responsible for PSU’s Move review coverage, I can tell you that it’s extremely important to create a space big enough to move around, and sometimes that can be tough. My game room is pretty small. In fact, I had to rearrange furniture to find adequate space and a background that was not backlit by a window. This isn’t exactly a complaint so much as a general warning: Move requires adequate lighting, plenty of open space, and a proper position for the Eye. I was able to make it work in my small room, but these requirements may not be attainable for everyone. The sensitivity of the PS Eye is partially the reason why set up is important.

As an example of how the PS Eye will impact your gaming experience, I recently attempted to make a video demoing Move and Sports Champions. The video was shot at night so several lights were used to illuminate the room. When trying to calibrate the controller to the PS Eye, an error message popped up, indicating there was too much light in the camera’s view plane. Sure, this is not a problem many people will encounter, but it is worth noting that lighting is extremely important. 

 

Once you figure out your optimal playing environment, you’ll probably notice that Move’s sensitivity is dependent on the software. For the sake of our review, we were given five games to try out. When it came to performance and lag, all five games had drastically different results (look for more details in our game-specific reviews). For instance, Sports Champions offers arguably the best performance, no lag, and provides a great representation of Move’s capabilities. On the other hand, Kung Fu Rider really lacks originality with the use of Move and Racquet Sports (a game from Ubisoft, and the only title not from SCE) had noticeable lag. While this review is for the hardware, software developers will ultimately shape Move’s future. It will be interesting to see how well the motion controller works when it’s tacked onto games like Heavy Rain and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11.

The Move controller is easy to hold, and feels like it’s built quite well. The white ball on top is rubber, not a ping-pong ball, and the bottom of the controller has a port to plug-in a USB cord. Like other PS3 controllers, Move connects via USB to the console. Once the controller is hooked into your PS3, you can sync it to your system and charge the actual remote. The built-in lithium rechargeable batteries provide about seven hours of non-stop gameplay and it only takes about an hour to charge. The Move controller offers some of the best vibrations out of any controller on the PS3. Many of the games we played used the vibration capabilities quite well, adding to the ‘in the game experience.’ It’s unfortunate that we did not receive navigation controller, as this review feels a bit incomplete. Still, the navigation controller is not required to use Move.

Ever since Sony announced it was working on a new motion controller (back when we didn’t know the name of it), there was a pretty clear division in the gaming community. Many believed, and likely still believe, motion controllers are nothing more than a fad, and that nothing will replace a good old fashioned controller. Both of those statements may very well be true, but the other side of the argument is equally valid. Motion controls, when done right, provide a unique gaming experience and allow software developers to try new things. Even if motion controls are nothing more than a fad, the fact we are seeing so many developers trying to make good games that support Move is encouraging and will likely mean at least some of those games are really good. For now, however, Move will launch with a limited number of games and few that seem to speak to the core gamer.  

The majority of our readers likely consider themselves part of that core group of gamers, the devout PlayStation fan critical of anything that could change their future gaming habits. And this is where we start to feel concern for Move’s future. If Move only attracts the family and casual/party gamer, we could find fewer titles like Killzone 3 or LittleBigPlanet 2 trying to work with Sony’s motion controller. At this point, that’s all pure speculation and part of what gets us so excited about the future of the PS3 is the fact that Move has opened up so many possibilities. Even if Move only attracts the casual market of gamers early in its lifecycle, the core gamers should not worry that their favorite system will become irrelevant. If Move attracts more users, that means developers will spend more money designing games for the PS3. After all, developers like EA Sports, Naughty Dog, and Insomniac Games will probably never stop creating games for their core market. If anything, these core developers will invest more assets into the PS3 if Move helps to push more systems.
 

 

 

The Move hardware is very good, without a doubt. Some of the software at launch is pretty good, and there is plenty to look forward to before the holiday season. The big question for many of you is pricing. We’ll soon have a buyer’s guide to guide you through your Move options, but know that it seems Sony is trying to create plenty of options for its user base. You need a PS3, a PlayStation Eye camera, and the Move controller. In the U.S. you can purchase a bundle of all three components and a copy of Sports Champions for $399 USD (the same price I paid for my old PS3 a few years ago). If you already own a PS3 and PS Eye, you can purchase a Move controller for $49 or you can get the PlayStation Move Bundle, which includes one Move, a PS Eye, a demo disc, and Sports Champions for $99. So if you want to try Move, you will have to spend at least $50 even if you already own the PS Eye (note that Sony will release Move demos on the PSN shortly after release). The pricing seems fair, but we know spending a $100 for a new controller is not always ideal, so many will likely wait until there is more software that supports Move.

Move is not without its faults, but anything negative we have to say about the controller has more to do with the software and playing environment rather than the actual controller. It is the most precise motion controller on the market without a doubt, and with big titles launching around the holidays, you can expect to see quite the buzz around the PS3. Move is comfortable, the onboard controls are solid, and its precision is unmatched. While we would have liked to try some games geared towards core players, we know we have a lot to look forward to in the coming months. Move is worth the money, but many of you will likely want to wait until there are a few games on the market you really want to try. Sony is certainly trying to up its game, and Move just may be the answer. 

-The Final Word-

Move is the most precise motion controller on the market and offers a brand new gaming experience on the PS3. With the launch of Move, Sony appears poised to change its game and introduce a new generation to the PlayStation brand. With triple-A titles launching around the holidays, even core gamers will have plenty of reason to see what all the buzz is about.
  • The precise tracking capabilities
  • Move provides a unique gaming experience to the PS3
  • The built-in vibration is even more responsive than the DualShock 3's
  • The PS Eye's sensitivity can create problems in brightly lit rooms
  • Pricing may keep some away
  • Move's performance is largely based on the software
8.0
Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3
See PSU's reviews scores on Metacritic and Gamerankings

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