Now that the initial wave of Move titles has come and gone, it's time for the all-important second wave of Move games to hit the scene. Not to take away from the launch lineup, but the new batch of games shows more skeptical users why the controller is destined to stay. To that end, Sony decided to bring out not one but three of their big platforming mascots into one Move-enabled game. PlayStation Move Heroes isn't really a platformer, but it also isn't a minigame compilation starring some famous characters. It's more of a series of challenges, and a recent demo shows how all of this would play out.
The demo of PlayStation Move Heroes features five different challenges and is planned for public release in the next few weeks. While it looks like the challenges will have playable heroes from the three different games, the demo locks all but one choice for each challenge. Based on the selection screen, the characters don't seem to have differing stats.
The first available challenge, entitled Survive A Deathbot Uprising, has you playing as Sly Cooper as you try to defeat three waves of enemies before they drain away your health. Instead of Sly's trusty cane, you're given an energy whip, which is versatile and points out the correct and incorrect ways to use the Move. The touted 1:1 controls are there when you see Sly hold the whip, but for attacks, it seems that simply flailing it around is sufficient for attacking enemies. The challenge is fun but short, as the waves of enemies aren't numerous enough to be threatening or difficult.
The second challenge, Could You Be So Bowled, has you playing as Jak as he attempts to rescue captive aliens. To do so, he has to bowl a special ball that can break cages and disintegrates when it runs out of momentum. Aside from the ramps, speed rings and bumpers littering the field, the interesting thing about this challenge is that you can alter the direction of the ball while it's in motion. It provides more strategy than simply throwing the ball and hoping for the best, but it also forces you to adjust your throw by stopping short of your normal range to get better control of the sphere. It takes some getting used to, but this challenge is quite enjoyable.
Whibble Trouble, the third challenge, lets you control Ratchet as he tries to retrieve aliens and brings them back to their mother. Unlike Sly's challenge, you have your trusty wrench as your weapon, but flailing with the Move controller is again your best offense. It feels more responsive, as it reads both horizontal and vertical swings well and does so at a fast clip. Still, those looking for 1:1 swings won't get it here. This challenge also shows off two things that platforming fans will miss: a controllable camera and jumping. The lock-on mechanism works well enough, but you will encounter a few spots where you'll wish the Move acted like a virtual right analog stick.
Industrial Revolutions is the fourth challenge in which Bentley is the pre-determined character, and it's quite similar to Jak's minigame. The big difference is that you have to throw discs and then control them to set the aliens free. Unlike the previous challenges, this feels more like it was built with the Move in mind, as the disc responds to every nuance of your wrist. It also helps that the environment in the demo is nice and open, and you only have to find the captive aliens instead of worrying about them while being attacked by robots. It ends up being a better showcase for the controller than Jak's minigame, and players might not mind playing a few more times just to experience precise flight.
Finally, you control Clank in A Mine Of Their Own, where you once again have to rescue captive aliens and bring them back to their mother. Unlike the other demo challenges, this one gives you a shotgun and probably has the best controls yet. The Move acts as your virtual right analog stick, and unlike other shooters that move your crosshairs before moving the camera, this one moves the camera instantly just like any controller- or keyboard/mouse-based first-person shooter. Even though the challenge is easy, the controls make it worth playing and will hopefully become a template for how other shooters handle with the Move.
Each character possesses a special move, which is activated once you build up a meter via the collection of more crystals. Depending on the challenge, each character busts out moves that fans will find familiar. For example, Jak taps into his dark eco powers to create a bowling ball with a large explosive radius while Ratchet has the disco ball that can be used to freeze enemies in their tracks through the power of music. It's a rather small touch, but it goes a long way in making the characters true to their adventuring counterparts.
Graphically, the development team did a good job overall, but hardcore fans will notice some minor details. For starters, the story line says that the worlds of all three franchises have been stitched together, but the constant space atmosphere in the demo gives you a feeling that the influence is more Ratchet and Clank than anything else. The characters also seem a bit off in small ways. As good as Sly looks now that he's properly entered the PS3 era, his face makes him seem more devious than endearing, especially in the absence of cel-shading. The same can be said for Jak, and while Ratchet has already experienced a PS3 makeover, the level of detail isn't up to the standards already set by Insomniac. The overall look of the game is good and holds up nicely against the other Move titles on the system.
If you can get over the fact that PlayStation Move Heroes is more of a series of challenges as opposed to a full platforming mash-up and the fact that both the Move and Navigation controller (or DualShock 3) are required for the title, you'll be fine. The featured challenges in the demo are good, but with two feeling a tad too similar, one has to wonder if there's more variety in the full game. It won't be long before we find out, since the full game is scheduled to hit stores in about a month.
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