The Sony Move arrives; a hands-on report

Sony's response to the video game motion-controller fad, the Playstation Move, arrived last Friday. As I am always willing to make great sacrifices for my readers, I ordered the whole shebang and spent some time this weekend checking it out. In this case the whole shebang means the Playstation Move Starter Bundle ($100), the Playstation Move Navigation Controller ($30) and a second Playstation Move Controller ($50). Suddenly Microsoft Kinect's $150 entry fee doesn't seem so bad, does it? Granted you don't need all the moving parts to get started with Move; you can do a lot with just the Starter Bundle, and honestly I've yet to use the Navigation Controller (and you can use a Playstation Sixaxis Controller to accomplish anything the Navigation Controller does, it just isn't quite as ergonomic). I'm going to go out on a limb and say if you're going to buy two of these three items, get the second Move Controller rather than the Navigation Controller.

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Anyway I'm getting ahead of myself. The Starter Bundle includes the Playstation Eye camera, one Move Controller, a copy of Sport Champions and a disk full of Move-enabled demos. The Eye camera plugs into a USB port and has to be positioned above or below your TV, in the center. The base of the camera has a flat edge; if you turn that to face backwords you can sort of drape the Eye over the top of a flatscreen TV and it'll hang in place pretty nicely. The Move & Navigation Controllers are both wireless but they have to be charged via a USB cable that is not included. You got one with your PS3 but if you have more than one component you're probably going to want more cables so you can charge several of them at once (these aren't proprietary cables so you may have one that came with some other piece of gear). Of course Sony will happily sell you a charging station, too ($30 and it charges both a Move and a Navigation Controller at the same time). So one of the big criticisms we've seen of the Move is that it's just a Wii-too product. That is, it's essentially a clone of the Nintendo Wii's control scheme. There's real merit to this point, particularly if you limit yourself to playing the Sports Champions games that are included in the Bundle. Sports Champions includes six games: Disc Golf, Gladiator Duel, Archery, Beach Volleyball, Bocce and Table Tennis. It's a good selection since it offers different kinds of experiences: Gladiator Duel will get your heart pounding (and in my case, let me work up a sweat) while Bocce is quite sedate and requires some thought. Disc Golf is a great demo for the precision of the Move; if you've ever thrown a Frisbee then you can play Disc Golf. Gladiator Duel, Archery and Beach Volleyball all support two Move Controllers and particularly in the case of Duel, the second controller (it serves as your shield) really enhances the experience. Most of these games are pretty good. I thought Gladiator Duel was probably the strongest of the bunch, and Volleyball the weakest (it felt more like volleyball drills than a whole game). With six selections I didn't dig deeply into any single game, so keep that in mind.

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