GamesCom: Playstation Move

So with so much recent praise on Microsoft’s Kinect, how does Playstation Move compare? It does seem like a straight-forward thing, right? It’s supposedly very precise Wiimote attached to a HD console. It has more buttons, no cable, built-in battery. Sony even seems to go for a more traditional, “gamer”-inclusive strategy with their line-up of games. It does everything!

PS Move Calibration

If you like calibration procedures then Move is DEFINITELY for you.

But the system left us with a very different impression on the show-floor. At first I was wondering if accidentally picked up the wrong demo. So I went ahead and tried a total of 4 different games. Each one of them was a disappointment.

First I tried Heavy Rain. I know the game very well. I heard that the Move capabilities compliment it’s unique approach. Well that’s bullshit as far as I can tell. One of the least attractive moments in Heavy Rain is when you struggle to translating the icons the game throws at you into buttons presses. This can be especially frustrating when the game gives a very narrow window to react. The consequences of mistakes range from awkward to catastrophic. What Move does is making that part even more difficult and frustrating. The games uses a very convoluted system of coding different ways of holding and moving the Move controller. Using the Move controller also introduces a 3rd dimension. All this increases the complexity of the entire system without giving significant payoff. It’s so out-of-the-question bad that even if I should buy the Move system, I will still prefer playing this using the DualShock.

I tried something simpler afterwards. There was a vanilla mini-game collection on the floor (maybe “Start the Party”?). It displayed an image of the player as recorded by the camera on the screen and superimposed different tools in place of the Move controller. That was actually a neat detail. The game was probably the most robust one from all the games I’ve seen. Sadly, it was nothing that wouldn’t be possible on even as crude systems as the EyeToy. You would pop balloons using the Move controller or guide Helicopters across the screen. It worked fine but it was nothing that one would need a PS3 or all that hardware for.

PS Move Panorama

The reason why the woman in the center has two heads is not Move’s fault for a change.

A friend said that the gladiator fighting in Sports Champions was an system seller. We did that. This time we were introduced to the amazingly long calibration procedure. For some reason, this is something that had to be done before every fight. It involves taking turns in holding the Move controller in various places while standing in exactly the right spot. Maybe we were impatient because we were standing in line but it felt as if that procedure was comparable in length to the fights themselves. It’s also something I never had to do with a Wiimote. The Mii Motion Plus needs to calibrate sometimes but just putting it on a flat surface is enough. And in the end, the gladiator fight was nothing special. Wii Sports Resort features a very similar kind of game. It felt more responsive there – maybe due to cartoony feedback. I didn’t have the impression of very precise controls in this one. Blocking and more aimed attacks didn’t seem to make much difference and the fight soon dissolved into frantic wiggling. The real turnoff was that the game-winning strategy turned out to be to spam the “special move” as soon as it charged up. That move is triggered by – get this – pressing a single button! Granted, you need to follow it up with a couple of slashes but I expected something less artificial from a motion controlled title.

PS Move Gladiator

It may look like I’m enjoying it but I’m laughing more at it rather then with it. Well actually I’m laughing because I’m wiping the floor with my opponent.

So I almost gave it up at this point but then some article said that The Fight was actually the big Playstation Move title. Fair enough, the screenshots look nice. The game has a very gritty, dirty look and feel. That’s certainly a very new direction in this type of games. I also like how this is not a professional sports simulation but something with more flavor. I gave it a try and again – big letdown. The calibration was even more obnoxious here. We had to repeat it several times because the system didn’t caught on at first. The actual game turned to be quite unresponsive. We were punching as fast as we could. But those moves were translated gentle, slow stretching of the fighter’s arms. My fighter would run around with his arms in front of him, slowly moving them around like a blind, paralyzed, zombie. I would occasionally accidentally touch my opponent while turning around. This was enough for a knock-out. We asked the people on the floor and they showed us some fixed gestures we could do to trigger some pre-canned moves. They worked maybe 60% of the time and did feel like something you need to learn and practice in order to be able to use strategically.

PS Move The Fight

We did our best but Playstation Move was not impressed.

I have no idea how much these impressions were affected by the games being not finished yet, the setups on the floor being not configured correctly or simply us not being familiar enough with the controls. Overall what I’ve seen from Playstation Move was disappointing. What seemed like a refinement and evolution of a familiar technology turned out to be either unnecessarily cumbersome, bug-riddled or simply inadequate. Kinect may not be a stroke of genius either but at least it worked like a charm and it has a strong system seller (Dance Central). If what we saw was indicative of what Sony wants to bring out by the end of this year, they will have a very tough battle uphill competing with the Wii and Kinect. Well, at least they have 3D… oh wait… well more on that tomorrow.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

3 responses to “GamesCom: Playstation Move”

  1. Mike

    You’re right on the money – it’s a bag of shite. It’s no better than the Wii in any way, shape or form. I really can’t understand how a few years ago, Sony were laughing at how kiddy the Wii is… and now here they are, cloning it and putting their name on it.

  2. peter pham

    how far do u have to be to use the playstation move

  3. peter pham

    how far do u have to be to use the playstation move!


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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