While I was out shopping at our local Wal-Mart, I wandered by the electronics department and found, where earlier this week they had a set-up of local Halo Reach multiplayer for the launch, they now had a couple of PlayStation consoles with a demo of Sony’s new Move controller.
The demo disc allowed you to select from a variety of mini-games, which weren’t much more than tutorials of how to use the controller. The games I played were archery and a gladiator duel.
Each game started out requesting calibration of the Move device. It was an extremely simple procedure, asking me to hold the Move to my shoulder, waist, and belt buckle, pressing a button at each point. It’s a little quicker than the Wii Motion Plus procedure of setting the controller down on a flat surface and waiting for a few seconds, but it’s still more than Kinect, which asks for no calibration whatsoever.
The controller is very well designed. The rounded shape is very easy to hold, much more comfortable than the boxy Wii remote. The buttons are very easy to press, and someone familiar with the layout will find them very intuitive. (I’m not a PlayStation gamer, so I had to keep looking at the controller to remind myself where the triangle one was versus the square, etc.)
Both games I played also asked if I had one or two Move wands. The demo unit only had one, so I could only test that. It is, of course, a little more old-school than the Wii, which can automatically detect if the Nunchuk is connected, but it is nice that it did not require two controllers. I assume the requirement will be dependent on software, so some games may choose to require another wand, a navigation controller, or a standard controller.
One thing I noticed right away when playing the archery game is the lack of jitter when compared with the similar game on the Wii. The controller appears to track much more smoothly and doesn’t appear to turn every little muscle spasm and twitch into a large, jittery movement on the screen. By contrast, tracking Move’s movements on screen didn’t require rapid eye movements to follow.
One of the things my wife noticed was that the on-screen cursor was initially hard to find. The cursor matched the motion controller’s ball color, which was pink. (The ball is supposed to be able to change colors, but over the course of my experience, it never did.) The pink was very difficult to see against the background of the menus and everything else going on on-screen. Once you knew what you were looking for, the cursor wasn’t too hard to find, but it still wasn’t the easiest thing to track.
The gladiator game would’ve been more fun with two controllers, since your player had one sword hand and one shield hand; but the game made do with one controller by letting you use a button to indicate when you were directing your shield hand instead of your sword.
Although the game seemed simple enough, it did reveal what seems to be Move’s biggest weakness. While it tracked slow, deliberate movements very accurately and smoothly, quick swipes, thrusts, and changes in direction seemed to be mis-tracked and lost way too often, especially compared to the Wii’s Motion Plus. I have not experienced these kinds of issues with the sword game in Wii Sports Resort.
Microsoft’s Kinect device has been criticized for being a Wii clone, but from what I’ve seen, the Move is far more Wii-like than Kinect could ever pretend to be. I will say that having a controller in my hand did give me a much more “real” connection to the game than I felt with Kinect. While Sony will have you believe that the controller — and in particular, its buttons — are the most important part of gaming, the games Kinect has shown off so far have not and will not require buttons to be successful.
Will the Move be successful? I commented before how I thought Sony’s strategy with the Move seemed to be more solid than Microsoft’s with the Kinect. However, when I was picking up my copy of Halo Reach from my local GameStop, I talked to one of the employees there about the Move. Despite being released that very week, they had a total of one pre-order for the Move device (and, based on that, they weren’t going to get many of the devices in stock). I forget exactly how many Kinect pre-orders they had, but it was much more than one — and Kinect’s launch is still almost two months away.