Getting a Move On: A Closer Look at the PS3’s Motion Control Games

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Sony brought the Playstation Move to New York yesterday and I got a chance to play with the upcoming motion control peripheral some more  after my initial gropings at GDC. It wasn’t just me who’d be getting hands-on time. When my cab pulled up to the hotel where the event was happening, there was a line of dozens of people So, at the very least, gamers are curious about the Playstation’s answer to the Wii-mote.

I was most revved up to play Motion Fighters, the fighting game Sony showed at GDC, but, alas, it wasn’t part of what was being shown.

What I did get to play during my session was Move Party, a mini-game collection, and Sports Champions, the slightly weird mix of Wii Sports and American Gladiators. Because the first Sports Champions event I played was table tennis, I couldn’t help comparing it to the tennis game in Wii Sports.

One of the things that I noticed right away was that Move operates off of a wider range of motion than the Wii-mote. I really had to draw back and let fly to make good contact on the ping pong ball. I’d gotten used to Wii Sports, where just little flicks register inputs in sports games. But, in Move’s table tennis, I was really able to spray the ball all over the table.

Sports Champions had a few moments of missed inputs and, in the table tennis game, serving was almost impossible for me to nail. But, while volleying, it did feel like the ball was going where I wanted to, traveling with relative speed and force to the directions and power of the swings I made. I could also put tons of English and weird spins on the ball, too, depending how you hold the Move and the angle of your strike. I’ve never felt that kind of responsiveness from similar Wii games, even with the Wii Motion Plus add-on.

The other Sports Champions competition I played was Gladiator Duel, the shield-and-sword arena battle where you face off against an AI. The main thing I took away from this event was how much of a difference the more robust graphics and physics made while playing the game. If this was on Wii, it’d feel a lot less visceral having cutesy Miis pound each other.

One thing that the video may not get across is that the augmented reality look of games like Move Party is way cool. The graphical overlay of a racket over the bulb of the Move wand felt cartoony yet detailed. I could see some really cool multimedia integrations with an augmented reality aspect with the Playstation Eye and Playstation Move combo.

While I was in Sony’s suite, I chatted with a developer from United Front Games who are making ModNation Racers, the multiplayer customization-centric kart racer rolling out on Playstation Network this summer. We’d met before when I’d seen ModNation last year and talked some about his impressions of Move. I asked him if players would see any integration of the Move controllers into ModNation, and he replied that, unless they’re the well-made, sturdy Logitech models, he’s not a big fan of fake steering wheels for racing games. Miming a turn with Move would probably feel too weird. The most intriguing possible application of Move with ModNation would be in the track-building mode. Using the Move wand and movement recognition to raise and lower elevation or  make super-twisty tracks would be cool, he offered, but it wouldn’t be something that’d be available at launch.

Sony’s also bringing Playstation Move to PAX East so, if you get a chance to try it out there, come on back to Techland and let us know what you think of it.