PlayStation Move Hands-on Impressions

The PlayStation Move has finally, officially, been revealed by Sony as their new entry into the world of motion controllers. At its base it’s a remote-styled controller with an orb of light at the tip which interacts with the PlayStation’s video camera to determine the controller’s placement in the world. There’s more complexity layered in when you add in more controllers, but that’s the gist. I spent a chunk of time last night putting the Move through its paces, and here’s how I was left feeling about it.

The Hardware Design
The PlayStation Move controller (and its optional analog cousin, the sub-controller) feel really good to hold. Much better than the Wiimote or nunchuk. This has a lot to do with the Move’s rounder shape and higher quality trigger (which is an analog trigger, akin to the 360’s triggers). There’s also a friendly, concave action button placed right under your thumb which is the equivilent of the Wii’s A button. The shape makes it much more natural to hold.

From a design perspective it’s…well…a little nerdy. There’s no getting around this orb of light you’re swinging around, as it’s the key to the Move’s accuracy, but you’re never going to look cool holding this. Thing. At least the Wii remote you could sort of hide in the palm of your hand. With Move you’re basically shouting to the heavens that you’re playing some wacky motion control game. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The Sensitivity
Now this is the biggest question about the PlayStation Move: Is it more sensitive than WiiMotion Plus? Keeping in mind that there’s still about half a year before the Move launches, in its current state the Move is equal with WiiMotion Plus in terms of sensitivity. There’s a noticeable, but teeny, tiny delay, to transfer your movement to the on-screen character, but all of the motion tracking is spot on and accurate. This varies slightly from game to game, but for the most part I felt like I was playing a variety of Wii games with PS3 quality graphics.

The Games
It looks like Sony is planning for a lot of variety in time for the PlayStation Move launch. I tried a handful of the titles, and some were a lot of fun, while others could use some work. Again, the launch is this fall, so if work needs to be done, there’s definitely time to do it.

SOCOM 4: Aiming with a combination of the remote and the sub-controller is pretty comparable to third person shooters on the Wii. I feel like the accuracy might be a little less using Move than it would be with an analog stick, but for all the people that find analog sticks impossible to aim with, this might be a decent alternative.

Sports Champions – Gladiators: Probably the best example of PS Move tech on the floor. You hold two controllers, one which handles your attack swings, one which handles your shield. Again the sensitivity was on par with Sword Fighting in “Wii Sports Resort,” but the game offered some additional depth with combos and power attacks. This game is part of the larger “Sports Champions” package, which includes a variety of sports games, akin to Nintendo’s offering.

Motion Fighters: Probably the game that needed the most work. Unlike other Move games which use direct motion tracking, “Motion Fighters” uses gesture-based controls to mimic a hand-to-hand street fight. There’s a notable delay between real action and screen action, and the gameplay is reminiscent of the original “Wii Sports” Boxing mini-game, complete with swings that don’t actually happen, despite your best intentions. Pretty graphics, though!

Move Party: Scoff if you will, but this party game is probably the most fun I had during the whole Move demo. “Move Party” is basically a series of minigames using a mix of the EyeToy and the Move controller. You take turns racing up to 3 other opponents, completing ridiculous tasks like shaving heads or popping colored blow fish. Depending on the game you’re playing, the video of you on screen will be shown holding a razor or a spear or a tennis racket, matched up perfectly with the placement of the Move controller in your hand. Motion capture was spot on and I could see this being a big hit with families.

There were plenty of other games on the floor, but those four best exemplified the PlayStation Move experience. The takeaway I had was that it’s definitely neat, and fun to play, but it hasn’t differentiated itself from the competition enough to make it feel “new.” Wii Motion Plus with better graphics is a hard comparison to escape from. Here’s hoping the PlayStation Move has a few more surprises in store before launch.