Sony’s answer to the Wii and Kinect doesn’t quite have the same wow factor as Microsoft’s new baby, but it might do a better job of connecting with the PlayStation’s existing audience, while convincing families that it has more to offer than the Wii.
The controller itself is a compact, lightweight stick with a glowing soft-plastic bulb at the end, with the surface containing a large Move button, a trigger, and the four traditional PlayStation action buttons, albeit in a new configuration surrounding the Move button. It works in conjunction with, not a dedicated sensor, but the existing PlayStation Eye camera, which tracks the glowing ball and combines that information with data from various motion sensors built into the Move controller itself. Most games seem to offer the option of using one Move controller on its own or using two together, and a separate nunchuk-style controller is available for games where you need analogue stick control.
It works, and works really well. In most of the games, the paradigm seems to be that the Move controller becomes whatever object you’re using in the game. If you’re swatting giant flies with a tennis racket, then the controller becomes the tennis racket. If you’re playing a bare-knuckle fighting game, the controller becomes your fists.
The Archery component in the Sports Champions game is a brilliant example. Using two Move controllers, you reach behind you with one to pull an arrow from a quiver while the other becomes the bow. You notch your arrow into place, pull back on the bow-string, aim the bow at your target and release, all in one fluid motion. It sounds complex, but in practice it just feels right.
Move also feels sensitive and responsive. In the fighting game, The Fight: Lights Out, there’s barely any noticeable lag between you throwing a punch off-screen and your protagonist throwing one on-screen, and you can see how it maps your jabs and swings to your character with amazing precision. Punch like a wuss, and he’ll punch like a wuss; put some back into it, and you’ll get results.
A quick run on a forthcoming SOCOM title also proved the Move controller unexpectedly adept at aiming and blasting away with an assault rifle. Basically, Move can work with hardcore games, and demos we’ve seen of Sorcery, a third-person adventure where the Move controller becomes your magic wand, look very promising. Add Tiger Woods 11, Heroes on the Move (a new game starring Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter and Sly Racoon) and Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition to the list of supporting titles, and it’s fair to say that Move won’t be short of interest for the hardcore crowd.
Prices start at £35 for a single controller if you already have the PlayStation Eye or £50 for a controller/camera bundle, making Move very accessible to boot. Expect products on the shelves in September.
3D Gaming was another pillar of Sony’s E3 plans, and one of the themes of the expo as a whole. As a leading manufacturer of 3D TV sets, it was no surprise to see Sony right behind it, with 3D demonstrations of Killzone 3 plus footage of Motorstorm Apocalypse, Gran Turismo 5, Mortal Kombat, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and others on show at the press conference.
Killzone 3 and Motorstorm Apocalypse were also playable behind closed doors, and it’s clear that – whatever your take on 3D movies or 3D TV coverage – 3D has a future in games. Developers, working from the ground-up in 3D, are beginning to get a handle on how to make the effects work for the games, and how to integrate HUD elements so that they don’t look out of place. Killzone 3’s blood splatters, which appear to splash over some kind of visor between you and the action, are a case in point, as are the game’s beautiful snow and weather effects.
Used properly, 3D can and does add to the sense of immersion, and with Sony and developers behind it, it’s going to be a must for the admittedly small population of gamers with the wherewithal for the tech. Crysis 3 was also running in 3D at EA’s E3 Press shindig, and very nice it looks too, with stunning visuals that look even better in stereoscopic. Interestingly, Crysis 2 will offer 3D support across the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC platforms.