Sony Corp. gets gamers off the couch with its new motion controller, the PlayStation Move.
The Move is a sensitive device with extremely accurate character and object control. It's an attractively priced add-on to the PS3 system that allows gamers to enjoy a different breed of games they needed a Nintendo Wii to enjoy.
The Move sells for $49.99, but you need the PlayStation Eye camera ($39.99) to use it. And for titles where your character has to walk or run around, you also need the PlayStation Move navigation controller ($29.99).
The best bargain available at launch is the PlayStation Move bundle, which includes the Move and Eye devices and a title called "Sports Champions."
Move works by focusing the USB-connected Eye camera (attached to the PS3 and placed near the TV) on a glowing, color-changing rubber ball at the end of the motion controller. An internal gyroscope and accelerometer help determine the exact position you're holding the Move and how fast you're swinging it in any direction. The main "Move button" is most comfortably accessed with your thumb, and it's surrounded by the usual PlayStation controller action buttons.
The placement of the buttons and the feel of the controller seem comfortable and intuitive. The Move also sports a trigger button opposite the Move button for additional control.
"Sports Champions" (SCEA, $39.99, rated E10-plus) includes disc golf, table tennis, fencing, archery, beach volleyball, bocce and a gladiator duel. I compared several of the sports with my experience on the "Wii Sports Resort" title.
Disc golf on the Wii is fun, but disc golf on PS3 using Move is a fuller experience. It's stunningly realistic, with challenging built-in opponents and detailed terrain. One minute I was scrambling for par through a cave entrance guarded by trees and waterfalls; the next moment, I was skipping my choice of discs over the top of an icy lake, hoping to win the match and unlock some new hidden opponents.
Gladiator Duel was also a blast to play. Using two Move controllers, I wielded a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. Both could be angled precisely to deliver and deflect blows. Finishing moves sent built-in opponents, like a blond girl named Boomer, crashing to ancient columns that surround your fighting stage.
Another decent title for Move's debut is "Kung Fu Rider" (SCEA, $39.99, rated E10-plus). I played as Toby and spent all of my time on the run from some bad guys. Toby's getaway vehicle is a series of office chairs. Sounds silly, but the game was a lot of fun. I careened around cars and under repair-work barriers while spin-kicking bad guys in the face.
In "EyePet" (SCEE, $39.99, rated E), a monkeylike virtual pet appeared to scamper around my room as it was presented on-screen. The Eye camera captured a live view of the room as I interacted with my pet, which I named Pip. It soon wore thin for me, but "EyePet" went over quite well with five children, all under age 6. Pip hopped around the children's legs and arms, and fell asleep as one child stroked his blue fur with the Move controller.
"EyePet" is equal parts weird and fun, but some games don't translate to the Move's capabilities quite as well.
"Racquet Sports" (Ubisoft, $29.99, rated E), available this fall, opts for the doe-eyed cartoon characters similar to the Wii. But I didn't have much control over my player's movements or shot selection during the tennis and table tennis games.
I'm a veteran of the Tiger Woods series, both on consoles and the PC, but I've never felt less control over my shots than when swinging the Move controller in "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11" (Electronic Arts, $59.95). Even with practice, the Move took the fun out of this hallowed title, and everything felt like a punch shot that pulled up well short of the title.
One interesting title takes PlayStation 3 gaming with Move in a direction I hope will continue. In "Heavy Rain" (SCEA, $59.99, rated M), I played as FBI profiler Norman Jayden. It was a new experience to open doors and drink orange juice while making those natural motions with the Move controller. Small icons appeared on the screen to help me learn how to interact with objects as the plot grew more dangerous and involved.
Sony has taken motion control leaps further than Nintendo Wii in terms of fine movements and detailed control; combine that with the full high-definition graphics offered by the PlayStation 3 system and the Move becomes a must-have device for the game shelf.
Four out of four stars.
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