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PlayStation Move: Fun in action

By BRIAN BOWERS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 2, 2010

Four years into the motion-controller revolution, I thought it would be hard to impress hardcore gamers. I was wrong.

When I got my hands on PlayStation Move — Sony’s answer to the Nintendo Wii — I invited a bunch of teenage friends over to give it a whirl. We put four new games to the test and the results were impressive: One guy tried to convince his father to buy a $100 Move bundle on the way home and another decided to start nagging his parents into making the plunge into the PlayStation 3 — at $400 for the console and Move bundle.

So what’s the big deal?

Move is a combination of the PlayStation Eye — a camera-and-microphone plug-in — and a wandlike controller that has a glowing ball on the tip. The camera tracks your movements as well as those of the glowing ball. In addition, the wand contains accelerometers that help track motion.

The results are incredibly accurate — even when measured against the improved Wii MotionPlus controller. The onscreen action follows your movement precisely and suffers from no discernable lag.

This was best demonstrated by comparing the primary sports games for each system “Wii Sports Resort” and the PS3’s “Sports Champions.” Both include sword-fighting, archery, table-tennis and flying-disc games. In each case, the motion-tracking was not only more accurate with Move, it was also more refined. Subtle differences in angle and force were translated to the onscreen action exceptionally well.

However, it wasn’t just the accuracy that made the PS3 games more enjoyable. Their game play and graphics were superior as well.

For example, the Wii’s Swordplay involves two blobby Miis whacking at each other on an elevated circular platform until one falls over the side. You can move around and block but that’s about it. The PS3’s Gladiator Duel features two caricatured athletes armed with weapons and shields doing battle in a match that resembles a bloodless fighting game. You can block a blow, leap into the air, evade a strike, bash your opponent with your shield and even perform special attacks at certain points in the match.

And you can’t cut corners. That was probably one of the most surprising things for the Wii veterans in our group. In most Wii games, you can get away with half-motions as long as you make them with enough vigor. That’s why teenagers can sit on the sofa and effortlessly pound your sweaty behind into submission on the Wii tennis court. However, with Move, you need to follow through with your actions. If you swing a sword halfway, you don’t hit your target.

Each of the other games in “Sports Champions” — disc golf, archery, beach volleyball, bocce and table tennis — ratchets up the competition, interactivity and depth of game play in a similar fashion. After Gladiator Duels, we enjoyed archery and volleyball the most. Archery requires finesse and precision as your draw the arrow from your quiver, nock it and launch it toward its target. Volleyball is certain to make you sweat as you mimic the motions and speed required in a real game. In each case, the end results are truly immersive and very realistic.

Perhaps my son Kyle said it best: “It’s what everybody expected from the Wii but didn’t get.”

More on Move

My hyperactive focus group also tested “Start the Party,” “Kung Fu Rider” and “EyePet.” Though none was as popular as “Sports Champions,” each was entertaining.

n “Start the Party” is a family-friendly collection of minigames similar to those found on Nintendo’s “Mario Party.” This direct descendant of the old “EyeToy” games on the PlayStation 2 lets you swat flies, whack moles, bounce balls, burst blowfish and engage in other silly activities in a competitive setting. The games were very entertaining and the overall competition was well presented. It will definitely be a favorite with the party game crowd.

n “EyePet” is definitely aimed at children — especially children who are yearning for a furry critter to call their own. First, you aim the PlayStation Eye toward the floor, which then appears on your TV screen. An egg then appears in the middle of the televised version of your living room. This hatches to reveal a cat/monkey sort of thing. You can name it, feed it, play with it and acquire all sorts of toys and items for it. It will follow you around the room and react to your actions. It’s cute — and it doesn’t throw up on the floor, which is a big bonus in my house.

n “Kung Fu Rider” features a goofy guy and babe who ride down the hilly streets of a big Asian city on office chairs, carts, stools and other wheeled items in an effort to elude gangsters. You can bash through obstacles, hop atop cars, grind along railings and then break out your kung fu moves to take down pursuing gangsters. The game feels like almost every skateboard game I’ve ever played, with the addition of the mob. Although the motion controls work very well, they feel a bit gimmicky — no surprise since its a common problem with Wii games, too. It’s fun but I truly believe that the game would have been even better if it used a regular controller.

'Sports Champions' lets you play beach volleyball without getting sand in your shorts.
SONY

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