Today I spent a good portion of my afternoon kickin’ it with my Korean buddy from up the street.
Being as he’s a gadget oriented person, he saw fit to purchase the new Playstation Move on the first day of it’s release.
I was fortunate to be invited to christen the mighty motion control device along with him.
Color me surprised when I discovered that it was actually kind of fun to play.
Bear in mind, my impressions are, of course; derived solely from the Sports Champions disc packed with it.
Like most gaming peripheral pack-in games I.E. Wii Sports, Super Scope 6, etc., Sports Champions could be viewed as little more than a tech-demo for the device, however in the case of the Move, it just happens to be a surprisingly deep and full-featured tech-demo.
The game contains 6 different styles of play:
Archery, Ping Pong, Volleyball, Bocce Ball, Disc Golf, and a sword and shield Gladiator Duel.
I leave it to you to guess which game I insisted on playing most often.
While I didn’t have the opportunity (nor desire) to try the Volleyball game, I was pretty impressed with most of the others.
The Archery was pretty straightforward, and definitely favored speed over accuracy.
I have to say, requiring the player to actually have to reach over their shoulder to pull the next arrow from their quiver was a nice touch.
Other than that though, the Archery game was definitely lacking without the use of a second Move controller to properly simulate the tensile strength on the string of the bow.
My friend is a gadget guy, but he’s also Azn, so I don’t expect he’ll be shelling out the cash for another controller any time soon.
Moving on, Ping Pong was definitely a standout among most of the games.
Ping Pong was the first game I was privy to trying my hand at, and as such, it served as my introduction to the technical capabilities of the Move.
My first action in the game was to turn over my wrist before the serve, just to see how well the Move could track my motions.
I have to say, it was quite satisfying to see my on-screen avatar (some douche in sunglasses named Dallas) actually match my wrist gesticulations move for move.
Here’s a video of someone (who sucks) playing the same character:
Once I started the game, I found the controls to be quite intuitive and surprisingly true to life.
I was perhaps most impressed by the controller’s ability to keep up with my movements despite my wonky style of playing Ping Pong.
I play right-handed, but in a Southpaw stance… And I also play back-handed with the racquet held at my waist.
Goofy yes, but effective against lower-tier players like myself.
Despite all that goofiness, the Move managed to keep up just fine, allowing me to actually get a win in Ping Pong before my friend, the owner of the device, even got a chance to.
Bocce Ball was kind of a mixed bag.
I played it hot-seat style with my 2 other friends, and we found that:
A): Bocce Ball is a game that is probably more fun when someone in the room knows the rules/objective of the game.
And B): Bocce Ball is a game best played in the presence of old people or feebs.
While pretty fun, especially whenever someone managed to accidentally make a nice shot, the real problem with Bocce Ball was the Move’s inability to simulate the weight of a Bocce Ball in your hand.
Trust me, when you’re trying to determine just how much man-force behind your Bocce throw, more often than not you’ll find yourself overthrowing.
This same problem was present when playing Disc Golf with the same 2 friends.
Although in this case, the problem was much more pronounced.
Disc Golf was kind of like the Wii Bowling of the Sports Champion disc.
Once you “get it,” that is, figure out how to position your wrist and how much man-force to put behind your shots, for the most part you’ve pretty much figured out the game.
Though my friends and I didn’t come close to mastering Disc Golf in the short time we played it, I can say this:
Those of us who could straighten their wrists properly (not me) were consistently the victor in every match we played.
That being said, let’s cut through the bullshit and get down to talkin’ about the only game in Sports Champions that really matters:
I’ve played Gladiator Duel for about 4-5 hours total now, and I’ve gotta’ say, at least against the computer; it’s pretty fuckin’ fun.
The basic gameplay of Duel is that of a motion controlled sword fight.
Remember how utterly weak-sauce the controls of Wii Boxing were?
Well, Gladiator Duel blows that shit outta’ the water.
Remember how every swing you performed in Wii Tennis, regardless of power or direction, would always result in a canned animation?
Well, Gladiator Duel spreads it’s cheeks and drops a log all over that shit’s face.
Well, that has nothing to do with Gladiator Duel, but it was fuckin’ awesome…
Anyway, when playing Duel, swinging the Move controller results in any number of attacks, while doing the same motions while holding the trigger on the controller results in manipulation of the player’s shield.
Parries, that is defense using one’s sword are possible and indeed recommended, as are the use of lateral movement and backsteps.
There are numerous context sensitive actions available in the game, so many in fact that I found myself wondering how fun Gladiator Duel would be to play online with human players.
Here’s a clip, I don’t feel like fishing for pics right now:
Trust me when I say this, the game is far more intense once you step up the difficulty level.
I was quite impressed by the sheer volume of content available in Sports Champions, well, at least the Gladiator Duel portion of it.
Near as I can tell, there are 10 racially diverse player avatars to choose from, with apparently an additional six unlockable after completing all of the challenges for each sports event.
My buddy and I managed to unlock Titus, the Roman gladiator-garbed boss character of the Gladiator Duel game.
In addition to this, different weapon skins and costumes are unlockable for each character, but perhaps most importantly, many characters possess their own movement animations, with only a few being reused here and there.
Little details like that were certainly not necessary for the developers to release Sports Champions successfully, however they are ultimately what kept me from holding all that much against it.
I can honestly say that I’ll probably never invest in a Move, (I’d need a Playstation 3 first now, wouldn’t I?) however that doesn’t stop me from having a lot of fun playing it at a friend’s house.
A few words to potential purchasers:
My buddy was telling me that he tried using the Move in conjunction with the game Tiger Woods 11, only to find that the motion controls were stunningly inaccurate.
Also, the same buddy is still trying to find a game that stands out as being a must purchase for the Move.
To top things off, as mentioned earlier, many games seem to need a second controller to work properly, so that’s an extra $40 if you seriously wanna’ get the most out of your experience.
Oh well, that doesn’t stop me from pestering my buddy to buy another controller so we can try The Fight: Lights Out…