So, out of the four launch titles for Sony’s new motion controller, which should you go for? Well, the answer is simple, Sports Champions. I’d advise getting at least two motion controllers to get the most out of the game, even for single-player action. Games like Archery and Gladiator Dual can be played with one, but using two adds so much to the experience.
All the games have single player modes where you compete in bronze, silver and gold tournaments with short individual matches. There are mini-games for each game too. Multiplayer is definitely King here, but the wide range of difficulty levels the AI offers, means they are a fun challenge for anyone playing on their own. The graphics are bright and crisp with everyone who played it over the weekend warming to the more realistic looking characters as better alternatives to the Wii’s deformed monsters. Anyway, to the games…
No button presses required, just swing the controller as you would in real life. Every degree of rotation is represented on-screen so keep an eye on the bat to make sure you’re not using the edge to hit the ball. The PS Eye does a great job of judging the depth of your position too, so you can lean forwards to get those closer net shots or step back to repel long-rangers. What most impressed me was the ability to add backspin and curve to shots by slicing underneath the ball and being able to add topspin by attacking the top of the ball at an angle, adding vicious speed. The tutorials do a good job of teaching you these skills in a short period of time.
Two player games split the screen vertically so each player gets the bottom section of the screen for the best angle. This proved one of the most popular games with a group of friends as it’s so easy to pick up and we were often able to get some speedy rallies going with exchanges of 30 shots before a sneaky winner. 5/5
This is one of the most immersive titles and works best with a motion controller in each hand. One is used to reach behind you and pull an arrow from your quiver, then almost touch the other controller to put it on your bow’s sights, pull back the arrow hand to add tension to the string, aim the crosshairs with the bow hand by moving the controller around and release the trigger on the arrow controller to fire. A dipping line below your crosshairs shows where the arrow will actually land, but it’s removed for the Silver/Gold matches for an extra challenge. The game mimics the real-life actions fantastically with you able to fire arrow after arrow with great speed for the wide range of games against stationary and moving targets.
The game can be played with one controller that does the arrow grabbing, drawing and aiming. It works fine, but doesn’t feel as cool by a long shot. The two-controller set-up is really tiring on the arms, but you can also aim from your hip for a breather, before manning up again.
The game supports two players, unfortunately the matches are for simultaneous play only, so you would need four controllers to play the best version, but like I said, two isn’t bad. It might be worth mentioning that regular gamers picked this game up a lot easier than the more casual players, thus making it a tad less welcoming than other sports. Personally, it’s the best game of the lot. 5/5
Another game that works best with two controllers per player. One for a weapon, one for a shield. It’s not exactly Soul Calibur, but the motions are simple to pull off, with enough realism to empower the player. It’s quite tactical, as the brilliantly accurate blocking system works well to defend yourself until you decide to attack. You can perform shield thrusts to unbalance your opponent and then wade in with some heavy attacks. It really makes a difference how hard you swing your weapon as the damage indicator numbers show, so don’t pussy around like you’re playing the Wii. Even on simple difficulties the AI likes to block a lot, so your main route of attack is through the backs of his legs, but you will be able to stagger them for a head-shot swing. You can leap on a downed opponent by lifting up both controllers too. The Move buttons on the controllers can be used for side-stepping, but otherwise all movement is automatic which just lets you get on with it.
Braver players can try and parry attacks with their weapon; it works better with higher strikes than low ones, which can be harder to time. There are special attacks to build up to which require specific quick-time event slashes, but the main variety to combat is added by each character having a different weapon. Holding a shield means there’s not much scope for the range of attacks with the sword hand, but we’d like to see how future games would handle with a sword in each hand or a double-handed blade.
If you’re only playing with one controller, you hold the trigger button to move your shield instead of the sword. It works well enough, but feels like a stunted experience when you compare it to the double set-up.
Two player matches are obviously more fun with two controllers each. It’s not something to play for a long time, as the lack of moves will start to show. It’s a decent title for short bursts though. 3/5
A nice relaxing game, ideal for giving your arms a rest and charging up the spare controller as you’ll only need one to take turns with the 1-4 player matches. Using realistic throws you try and throw a frisbee into a basket on these golf-style courses. The game asks you to throw with a backhanded motion but if you prefer throwing the opposite way (like skimming a stone across water) you absolutely can, even though the game never mentions this. You can even add curve to shots, but this will take some practice. You can have practice swings by not releasing the trigger, where you can judge on the power bar how far your throw will go. For the most part it works fine, but there was the odd throw that felt like it sold short the amount of power put into it. However, we were impressed by how the angle you hold the frisbee at is represented.
Up to four players can compete in stroke play matches where the least overall shots wins. The match play (number of individual ‘holes’ won) competitions sadly only support two players. A good competitive game for a bit of down-time, but not something you’re likely to play multiple games of in a row. 4/5
A good example of something we’d probably never play in real-life, but works well for party games that anybody can play. Based on a European game that mixes up Greens Bowling (the old people one) and Curling, this bowling title proves quite addictive and very competitive. Two teams compete to roll their balls the nearest to a smaller yellow ball, which is rolled down the course by one of the teams at the start. By the end of a round the team with the nearest ball wins. If they have two balls nearer than any of the opposition ones, that’s two points and so on, with the winners being the first to six points. The team furthest away will bowl until they get nearer or run out of balls. You can knock any ball out of the way, including the yellow target ball, which can change the whole face of a match. The bowling motion proved to be quite realistic with the smoothest rolls happening when you swoop down low with a smooth swinging motion. Experts will be able to add curl to shots, but this proved to be a bit too difficult to pull off, but nobody really wanted to do it to be honest. Depth is added by the inclusion of some crazy golf-style shaped courses with slopes and angles making things interesting.
Multiplayer supports two teams playing together with 2-4 players using one controller between them. The best matches are the 2vs2 ones where you can discuss tactics and screw the other team over by blocking them off or knocking the target ball towards your pile of ‘wayward’ shots with the last ball of the match. 3/5
This game features the longest tutorial of the lot, but it makes things seem a bit more complicated than they really are as character movement and spike/lift selection is generally automatic. This game can be played with two controllers each, but to be honest they only make a difference to serving (flick up with one, hit with the other) or sideways dives that have you reaching across yourself to get the opposite side with one controller.
Matches have two players on each side of the net, but you only control one of them as you have an AI team-mate, who is a real improvement on the usual AI support we’re used to. All the motions are covered from simple serves, jumping serves, lifts, underhand punts, spikes, flicks, dives and blocks. The only time I got frustrated was when it wasn’t clear if I was supposed to be launching into a spike or another lift and the character on-screen had an indecisive flap.
To avoid chaos in your living room, only two players can play at once. You can go on the same team or play against each other with an AI buddy each. Both match-types proved to be great fun, with the co-op ones proving especially good as you can work together in-sync better to set up finishers. 4/5
- Motion control, done better than ever before
- No bad games
- Archery and table tennis feel like landmarks for motion control
- Get ready for a destroyed body a few days later
- Occasional ‘Spike or lift?’ confusion in volleyball
- For a decent two player archery game you’ll need four controllers
The short Version: Your first essential title for Sony’s new PlayStation Move. The accuracy the device is capable of is incredible start-to-finish. The single player side will keep you going between multiplayer sessions which are where the game really shines. Casual players were able to pick up most titles easily and nobody had a game that they could honestly say they didn’t enjoy. The inclusion of the easy-going games like Bocce and Disc Golf were essential to avoid wearing players out too, which meant the game barely left the PS3 during Move’s opening weekend.