You'd have thought that since Nintendo's obscenely successful Wii console brought motion-control gaming to the baying masses, rival manufacturers would be tripping over themselves to push a similar product to launch. And yet we've had to wait four years for -- Sony's motion-controlled hardware that works with its PlayStation 3 console. Getting started will set you back a minimum of £45, so is Move motion-gaming worth the wait? Or too little too late...
In terms of design, it's hard to deny that Move takes its concept from the 'remote' style controller that Nintendo pioneered, but Sony has put its own twist on things. The Move controller is formed of matte-black plastic and sports a rounded, sleek design very much in keeping with the stylings you'll find on the newest PS3 consoles. Additionally there's a pleasing weight to each controller, so they don't feel creaky and cheap when you're swinging them around like a madman.
But first your eye is going to be drawn to that massive great glowing bauble that squats atop each controller. That's not decorative -- that's how the Move system keeps track of the motion-controller's location. The baubles themselves are spongy, so you don't have to worry about them shattering into a thousand pieces when the controller inevitably slips out of your grasp and flies across the room.
If you're craving a little more control, Sony is also marketing a separate peripheral that connects wirelessly to the controller, called the Navigation controller. Our review sample didn't include this extra peripheral unfortunately, and it's not bundled as part of the PlayStation Eye/Controller bundle. It functions in a very similar way to the Wii's Nunchuck -- providing an analogue controller, a D-pad, two analogue trigger buttons, a PS button and X and O buttons. If you don't fancy investing, a standard DualShock 3 wireless controller can be used in place of the Navigation controller.
It's worth noting that if you're using Navigation controllers with the Move controllers, you'll only be able to get two controller sets going at the same time, as the Navigation controller takes up a controller slot for itself. This means that while the Wii allows for four players using both Wii Remotes and Nunchucks, Move will only fit two players in at the same time if they're both using Navigation controllers. (Or a DualShock 3 controller in place of the Navigation controller).
I against Eye
Tracking is handled by the PlayStation Eye, available separately for around £25. That plugs into your PS3 via USB, and tracks the glowing colours on the Move controllers, essentially serving as a rather crafty webcam. The colours on each controller change dynamically, so you don't have to worry about one controller always being 'player 1' or someone always being stuck with the pink one.
The Eye itself is a little chunkier than we'd have liked -- while the controllers have a rather neat design, the Eye, which sits under or atop your telly, isn't quite so svelte. It measures in at 83 by 65 by 57mm, and it's a little plasticky to hold and to look at, so it's not going to do much for the overall look of your doubtless otherwise stonking AV setup.
Getting the Move system ready to go is pleasingly simple. The controllers communicate with your PlayStation 3 via a Bluetooth connection, and getting them all prepped for gaming requires no more effort than simply pressing a button on the controller itself. Most games will start you off with a calibration process -- the titles we used to review this hardware certainly did -- and that's necessary to keep the accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer that are stuffed inside each controller nice and streamlined.
We found it annoying having to calibrate every time we started gaming, but we're not going to mark the hardware down for this, because the implementation of calibration will likely differ from game to game.
Proof is in the gaming
So how does playing with the Move actually feel? Anyone who's used the Wii extensively will know that the motion tracking system is far from perfect, and frequent controller lag, error, or the console losing track of the Remote's location often caused the whole shebang to fall gloriously apart.
So does Sony's Move system suffer from the same problems? In short, yes, but not so much. Several times during our testing we found the hardware losing track of whereabouts we were, or what we were doing with the controllers, but overall we were impressed by the accuracy that little glowing ball afforded us.