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Playing with Sony's PlayStation Move controller

As anyone who's seen me try to survive in Halo can attest, I am not exactly an avid video gamer. One reason: I can't memorize button combos to save my onscreen life. So I was interested in the chance to try out Sony's new PlayStation Move controller.

The Move, which debuted earlier this summer, tries to add another dimension to the idea behind Nintendo's Wii: Instead of the game system using the controller's own sensors to track your gestures, it also uses a camera to see how far away from the console you are. The Move differs from Microsoft's upcoming Kinect by including a full range of buttons, while that Xbox system relies solely on a camera following your limbs.


That opens up new gaming possibilities but can also complicate matters, as I found after checking out an early version of the Move this morning at Current Sushi in the District. (Sony is hosting a local meet-up for PlayStation fans there tonight.)

Sony's presentation started off with the traditional series of demos. Sony engineer Richard Marks used a Move to draw and paint, sculpt objects and take a sword to a helpless opponent; he also wielded two at once to pick up a window on the screen, move it and then warp it in three dimensions.

When it was my turn to try out a Move, though, I discovered that it didn't quite match the Wiimote's just-pick-it-up intuitiveness.

For one thing, you have to calibrate the Move before starting each game; this brief step ensures that the PlayStation's required Eye camera, which follows the lighted orb at the business end of the Move, can correctly track you. For another, the Move's ability to register precise movements may outstrip the ability of gamers to execute those motions.

In a version of EyePet, I didn't have too much trouble grooming my onscreen pet, but the car I attempted to draw with the Move would not have looked much sloppier if I'd held a pen with my toes. Having to perform the mirror image of the desired onscreen action didn't help matters.

The Move seemed to work better with the puzzle game echochrome ii, in which it felt simple and natural to use the Move to shift the game's floating blocks and their shadows to create a path for my character through each level.

But in the minute or two I spent trying a volleyball game before having to run home (for a repair appointment's four-hour window that the company involved completely missed--no, I'm not bitter), I got clobbered. The fellow playing next to me commented that Move volleyball was much harder than the Wii flavor, since you can't just flail around with the controller. Could it be too realistic? Or maybe that game was just realistic enough--not only do I have issues with video games, I'm not that great at volleyball, either.

What's your read on this controller? Does it seem a worthwhile addition to the PS3's repertoire? Were there other issues I should have noticed this morning?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  August 24, 2010; 5:40 PM ET
Categories:  Gadgets , Games  
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