Now this is a first on Gamersyde since we are delivering our first review based on a PS Move only title. Playstation Move Heroes is indeed Sony's new attempt at motion gaming and although it is obviously aimed at a very large audience, it still is a polished title that tries to make the most of the abilities of the Playstation Move controller. For the occasion, Sony called some of their most famous characters to try to appeal to core gamers too. Will it be enough? Our verdict and videos are just a click away, inside.
When the first Playstation was released, players were used to associating every console maker with an emblematic character. Mario for Nintendo, Sonic for SEGA, it would have made perfect sense to see Sony do the same. It never really happened though, and even if Naughty Dogs' Crash Bandicoot was considered as such by PS1 owners, it was never the official mascot of the Japanese firm. Later, with the success of the Playstation 2, three new franchises had a very powerful impact on the public and remained forever linked to Sony's image. No wonder then to find Jak & Daxter (Naughty Dogs, again!), Ratchet & Clank (Insomniac Games) and Sly Cooper (Sucker Punch) in a game that stars the brand's heroes.
You won't find any deep storyline in Playstation Move Heroes, so the narration won't be close to what you usually get in the titles of each series. There is some kind of plot to justify what happens, but the cutscenes are rather scarce and the story is merely a pretext to propose arena types levels where completing varied objectives is the key. While it is clearly nice to see the return of such famous characters and their sidekicks, Playstation Move Heroes is in no way to be taken as a new adventure of Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank or Sly Cooper for that matter.
It takes different strokes to Move the world
The game is composed of several worlds, each being in fact a representation of the main characters' game worlds. Each world is composed of a series of challenges that unlock as you progress into the game. Like I said before, there is a clear desire for variety on the part of the developers. Thus, different gameplay types are available, all trying to take advantage of the PS Move. Of course, the first levels will in fact be more like tutorials to help you understand what you are supposed to do, and how to "read" the different maps. Playstation Move Heroes will sometimes be a shooter, then turns into a beat'em up or a bowling game before asking you to control a Frisbee to free strange little purple creatures called the Whibbles. Each level needs to be completed in a certain time in order the win the gold medal, which means you will always be running against the clock.
Depending on the gameplay type, the different maps require a little bit of "exploration" in order to figure out how to make the most of them. For instance, when your job is to free the Whibbles using a disc (Tron lovers should appreciate), you will have to spot all their cages, but also where the most interesting bonuses (time, multipliers, etc) are to make your life easier. The fun thing is that you stay in control of the disc even once thrown, a bit like in Heavenly Sword (except the controls were just awful in that game). As long as you don't hit a part of the environments that cannot be destroyed, you can keep using the same disc, which means it is theoretically possible to free all the Whibbles with only one disc.
Futuristic bowling is also part of the menu in Playstation Move Heroes. Again, you can "steer" the ball from beginning to end, detonate it if necessary and you must learn to use the environment to your own advantage. Sometimes, some platforms will make your ball jump in the air, gain speed, and there are also teleportation portals to name but a few examples. Things get trickier quite soon, though the game still remains quite accessible, which is normal considering it is not intended for hard core gamers.
As for the rest, even if objectives tend to vary more or less (survive a certain number of enemy waves, bring back Whibblets to their mother, etc), the game either becomes a Third Person Shooter or a Beat'em up depending on the weapon used. Your arsenal goes from a mini machine gun to a shotgun, from a whip to Jak's big hammer or Ratchet's wrench. Those sequences are pretty fun to play and they even give a hint as to what a true Ratchet & Clank game could be like with the PS Move. Had they included real platforming sequences to the game, it could have been mistaken for one. They even added a special move to each character, each being a tongue and cheek reference to the original games (Ratchet's disco ball never gets old!).
Graphically, the game is very faithful to the three franchises, well except maybe for Sly Cooper that lost its cel shady look so as not to stand out too much. For a title that was not made to blow the mind of graphics whores, it does a pretty good job overall. Sound-wise, it is just average, even annoying at times when the speaker gets too talkative (but that mostly happens in the tutorial levels of the game). It won't make you want to push the mute button either, but there is not much to remember in that area.
I like to move it move it
But let's talk gameplay now, as there's no denying that this is usually where things go wrong when it comes to motion gaming. I must confess I am pretty new to these kinds of games, and that I am not particularly fond of motion controllers in general. After a few brief - and inconclusive - attempts at Heavy Rain and Killzone 3 with the PS Move, I needed some serious convincing. The first good surprise was that the calibration process is simple and fast, though you will have to do it each time you want to play the game.
Navigating through the menus obviously reminds of what can be found in Wii games, but as the cursor is both reactive and precise, who needs nice-looking menus? Whether you are steering a disc in the air, guiding a ball to its target avoiding the many obstacles, or aiming and shooting, everything feels very natural. Melee combat is also efficient, though I must say it is probably what I dislike most in the game.
Controls are also pretty common, the navigation controller allowing to move the characters and lock the enemies, while the motion controller is dedicated to aiming, shooting (T button) and using the shield (Move button). There are still a few flaws like the camera that is not always fast enough, or the fact that players are advised to stand to fully appreciate the game (after all, gamers have gotten used to sitting comfortably when they play).
To conclude, Playstation Move Heroes brings nothing new to the genre but it is rather entertaining, even if you are not particularly attracted to the genre. It makes a good use of the PS Move and the number of maps is good enough not to become repetitive. Reaching the best highscore will not be your only incentive to play as each level contains a secret item that will unlock different goodies. Contrary to what you might think, they are not that easy to spot, even in the early levels, so it should keep you busy for a while if you are a completionist. I should also mention the possibility to play the game with a friend in co-op mode, which is obviously a nice addition. In the end, unless you really can't bear motion controllers or don't like challenge oriented games (and by that I mean games that just offer a series of independent levels where the main goal is to reach a certain score), Playstation Move Heroes is not that bad a choice and could even be worth your while.
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