My first experience with the PlayStation Eye was at Harvey Norman. There was a store near my old church, and every so often I, along with a childhood friend, would run down after a church service and spend Sunday afternoon there, playing on the demo consoles they had. You know, back when demo consoles in brick and mortar stores were actually a thing.
This one time there was a PlayStation Eye demo setup, running some kind of demo content that showcased how input from the camera could be used in actual games. As I cleaned the screen of fog by wildly waving my arms around like a lunatic, I marvelled at how my crude body movements were being translated and having a real impact on the game, something that wasn’t possible before with a simple controller, but now was thanks to the addition of a camera.
Fast forward a couple of years, and now people are so sick of cameras being included with their consoles that a console coming without a camera is enough to make news. The Xbox One has Kinect, and the PlayStation 4 has the PlayStation Camera. We’ve come a long way since the silly hand-waving of the PlayStation Eye demo I played back in 2007, to the point where people are creating entirely new genres of gaming around motion-tracking — Johann Sebastian Joust and Zero Latency being two examples.
Ever since I saw the PlayStation Move ad where there’s a girl using two Move units to do some archery, I kind of wanted to see what the Move was like. Unfortunately, Move has always been prohibitively expensive, making my Move experimentation a little far-fetched for something I was likely going to play a handful of times and then never again.
But then, something strange happened. Move got cheap. Starting around September/October last year, you could pick up a PlayStation Move Starter Kit (one Motion controller, one PlayStation Eye camera) for $46. I did so, then grabbed an extra Motion controller for $18, a Motion Controller for $22, and a few other accessories: the PlayStation Move SharpShooter and a few Move-enabled games (more on these two in a bit). Oh, and a Move Charging Station for an entire dollar, for good measure.
I spent the good part of a day playing Move Sports Champions 2, doing some archery, golf, and other fun games. They say the best thing about the Wii is the motion controller, and the funny thing is, the PlayStation Move gives you a very similar experience with a (in my opinion) vastly superior console for actual games. I practised some foolish wand waving with Wonderbook: Book of Spells, but the part I was really looking forward to was Time Crisis.
In June last year, I tweeted about wanting my own Time Crisis arcade machine. The infrequent visits to Zone3 or AMF Bowling just aren’t enough for this Time Crisis/light-gun buff, but you know what the next best thing is? Time Crisis for the PlayStation 3, with built-in support for the PlayStation Move. By September I had the Move SharpShooter, and all I needed was a copy of Time Crisis.
You know that feeling when you’ve waited a long, long time for something only for it to be a massive disappointment? Time Crisis with the Move SharpShooter was kind of like that.
The motion tracking part worked well — it was exactly like being at an arcade, except without the awesome recoil feedback of their guns. But using the SharpShooter felt more like a chore than playing a game; it was a few hundred grams too heavy, was weirdly front-heavy to the point of being awkward to hold up for longer than half an hour, and on top of that, getting multiple Move controllers to pair with the PS3 console (and then be recognised by the PlayStation Eye) was an exercise in frustration.
As much as I wanted to like the PlayStation Move, the number one thing I wanted it for just didn’t meet my expectations. Not because the premise was bad, but because of implementation details. If the controllers were lighter, maybe it would work. If the SharpShooter was better weighted (while being less weighty, all at the same time), maybe it could have worked.
The good news is, Time Crisis with Move support wasn’t the be-all and end-all of my Move experimentation. There’s plenty of other Move-enabled games that I can play, such as Heavy Rain… and that’s about it. Looking through my Move-enabled games I still have the Killzone Trilogy, but I suspect that will be much like Time Crisis. Maybe I’ll pick up the standard shooting attachment (think pistol, instead of the rifle-like SharpShooter) and see how that fares.