PlayStation Move Preview: The Hardware

After four years of experiencing motion control courtesy of Nintendo's Wii home console, Sony is joining the fray with its own set of motion peripherals. Dubbed "PlayStation Move," Sony's motion controller launches next week in North America and Europe (Japan gets it in October).

Last week, Sony sent us the final hardware and a number of upcoming titles for us to experience its motion "renaissance." Admitedly, I have yet to go near a Move controller at press events (or Microsoft's Kinect for that matter), as I had not been assigned to cover games for the peripheral in the past and because I haven't seen anything that interests me as a gamer.


What struck me immediately was the size and comfort of the PlayStation Move. The Move controller itself, which will be available in a variety of bundles at launch, is comparable in size to a Nintendo Wii Remote outfitted with a Motion Plus attachment. The rounded device is comfortable to hold and its buttons are easy to access, save for "Start" and "Select" which are positioned awkwardly on the top sides of the device.

For our preview, Sony also sent over the optional Navigation Controller. Although it's smaller and lighter than the Move controller, it was less comfortable to use. However, I wasn't given many opportunities to use the controller as the majority of the software available at launch will focus on the Move itself. Also, it's important to remind users that you can use the left side of a DualShock 3 as a NavCon, rather than shell out the extra $30 for the (frankly, overpriced for its current minimal requirement) unit.

Once my debug and home consoles were updated to the latest firmware, I was able to setup the controllers. Syncing is simple. Plug each device into the console via USB, add and calibrate the controllers via the Accessory Setup option in the XMB and you're good to go. If you have a PS Eye, the Move will work with it once it is positioned to the camera's "widescreen" option. If you have yet to attach the camera to your system, adding it is just as simple and requires positioning in the middle at the top or bottom of your screen.

Positioning is important and varied throughout each experience. I found myself moving the camera more than I'd like to based on my home set up. For games like Sports Champions, which comes bundled with a Move controller and PS Eye, the menus will test your distance between each game. After you've selected a mini-game, a menu will prompt you to hold the Move controller's glowing sphere above your head, at your side and to your belt buckle to calibrate correct distance. This happens every time. In another example, I was forced to move the camera off its location to play EyePet as the recommended setting of pointing it straight down would not work for my setup. Because of my setup, I felt I was constantly fighting with either being too far or too close to the camera, which hurt some of the experience.


Once you've figured out how the controler setup will work best for you, the only thing left is to play some motion controlled games. Sadly, the current crop of software isn't going to make you rush out and spend $100 for the Move's basic set up (less if you already own the camera). What Move will do is show you better looking and much or accurate motion-controlled titles we've seen in the past.

And yes, PlayStation Move is shockingly precise. This is somewhat of a double-edged sword, though, as I wonder whether adding more precision to casual titles would make them harder to enjoy for a non or low level-gaming audience. However, I'll detail those thoughts in my next feature previewing the hardware's available games.

As someone who went into the second-coming of motion controllers skeptical, I've at least walked away respecting the hardware that Sony has created. It's comfortable, super-accurate, and has a lot of potential for non-casual experiences. I really wish I could have played SOCOM 4 or something a little more "hardcore" to give it a final verdict, but from what I've seen the controller works as promised.

My only conern, at launch, is whether there is anything that would entice me to purchase my own Move bundle. For the moment, there is very little that would make me shell out the money for a somewhat similar experience that has already been collecting dust on my shelf.

Stay tuned for our PlayStation Move preview of select launch software titles, tomorrow.