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Time to get up and (Sony) Move

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The motion controlled gaming arena has been dominated by the Nintendo Wii. But this all changed with Sony’s introduction of its Move controller, which the company touts as ‚a revolution in the motion controlled gaming landscape.’ A bold statement, which prompted SEAN BACHER to shake it up with the Gadget 5 Question User Test.

Ever since Nintendo released the Wii in 2006 it has dominated the console market in terms of getting gamers off the couch, onto their feet and actually getting their heart pumping and blood rushing while having some fun.

The console has done well, the company has launched a stream of titles and many parents favour this console over others as it doesn’t make couch potatoes out of their kids. On the contrary, it keeps them social, fit and still allows them to play their favourite TV games. It is for this reason that I was constantly astonished that no other console maker had considered creating their own motion controlled system.

Sure, Sony announced its PlayStation 3, and Microsoft its Xbox, and the games available for these consoles are mind-blowing in their dazzling graphics and beautiful sound effects. But they all employ a control that makes you sit down in front of your television for hours on end, the only workout being given to your thumbs while you navigate your character or race your car through various stages.

You could argue that Sony’s first generation PlayStation 3 console came with the Sixaxis controller that was motion controlled, but let’s be perfectly honest here, for how many minutes did you use it before you decided it was a completely useless invention, switch off the motion control option and use it like a standard PS2 control?

This above scenario was the gaming console landscape until a couple of months ago. Then it all changed when Microsoft announced its plans for Xbox Kinect and Sony came along with its PlayStation Move.

Let’s Move

The Sony Move kit consists of a controller that looks very similar to the Wii remote, but with the addition of a rubber ping-pong ball on the end that glows different colours through various games. Also included in the kit is a USB camera ‚ much like the older cameras Sony used for its PS2 platform.

We spent a few days with the Sony Move, often going to bed with cramped muscles in our arms, as we put it through the Gadget 5 Question User Test.

1. Is it ready to use?

This one isn’t ready out of the box or even in the charger. Once unpacked, you have to plug the Move controller into one of your PS3’s USB ports to charge it up for a while, and then still synchronise it with your console. Next, you have to connect the camera to the console and perch yourself in front of it, making sure that you are perfectly framed. Only then will it consider doing anything for you.

2. Is it easy to use?

I am sure that, when Sony designed the Move, they had kids of all ages in mind and made using the Move as easy as possible. Once properly calibrated, everyone will be able to use it without much difficulty.

Furthermore, the Move controller’s robust design, with built in rubber ping-pong ball, will save it from some accidental brutal slams against walls or other people. However, your television won’t take too well to having the control hurtling to it at high velocity, so I suggest you wear the safety strap at all times.

3. Does it deliver on its promise?

Sony believes that the Move will offer hours and hours of fun to you and your friends, and without a doubt it will. The only inhibiting factor is how long you can go on for before you are exhausted or your muscles seize up.

A problem that was raised with the Wii, but was quickly overlooked because of its easy and fun playability, was the lack of good graphics and sound. This is where the Move definitely delivers. The graphics are vivid and detailed and the sound enthralling – nothing short of what you have come to expect from just about any game ever launched for the PS3 platform.

Equally importantly, the actions picked up by the Move are far more accurate than with the Wii. For example, if I rotate my hand with the Move even in the slightest, it shows up on the screen, and I can see the table tennis racket or baseball bat rotate with my hand movements. During gameplay, each and every movement is picked up, including the speed with which I swing the Move controller ‚ and even the angle. It is so accurate that if, for instance, you are playing a game of table tennis and you swing the Move controller to hit the ball but miss it, you will actually hit the ball towards yourself when you bring your hand back to get ready for the next shot.

However ‚ and there is a big however ‚ when all is said and done, there is one major drawback of the complex Move system. This is the use of the camera. As mentioned before, you have to position yourself perfectly in the frame of the camera and, before you play any game, you have to calibrate the controller by holding it at your shoulder, down at your side and at your buckle, each time pressing the Move button so your calibrations are saved. The reason you need to do this is so the camera can pick up your position and then orient the game accordingly.

Should you decide to move slightly out of the camera’s focus, your game becomes a disaster. Granted, it does warn you that you are out of the system range, but it remains really irritating. The controller syncs with the PlayStation via Bluetooth, and this offers meters of freedom, but you are restricted by the camera’s shortcomings.

Sony should have introduced a better camera or should have designed the system to work without the camera. After all, the only benefit of the camera is seeing yourself in the actual game and, after playing for a while, I don’t see that as much of a benefit at all.

4. Is it innovative?

The big surprise is that the Move is not really innovative. Although Sony touts the Move as redefining motion gaming, it doesn’t. Yes, there are some improvements over its rivals, but they still are not all the way there in terms of offering you complete freedom of where you play.

The PS3 allows seven controllers to be connected at the same time ‚ meaning that seven people can be playing at the same time. Now, although we did not test this in practise, I can only be a pessimist and say that it will be quite a challenge to get seven people perfectly in the camera’s focus.

5. Is it value for money?

The Move system itself is not that expensive, with prices starting at R700. However, things will get expensive when you start buying the games. PlayStation 3 games have always been a tad on the expensive side and I don’t see things changing with any of the Move titles.

In conclusion

If you’re already a PlaySation 3 user, the Move is a great accessory at a good price, but it takes a little practise to get you really moving. If not, then don’t opt for the PlayStation 3 solely for the Move experience.

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