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Controller Freak

Chad Sapieha leads you deep into the world of games, covering gaming trends

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A screenshot from Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, which now supports PlayStation Move. (EA Sports)
A screenshot from Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, which now supports PlayStation Move. (EA Sports)

PlayStation Move, one month later Add to ...

Sony announced late last week that it shipped one-million PlayStation Move units in North and Latin America in the 30 days immediately following the launch of their new motion control platform.

Only Sony knows whether that figure is equal to, above, or below the company's expectations, but I suspect it might be slightly low given that the announcement included Central and South America (the sales figures I typically see in press releases are just for the U.S., Canada, or North America).

Clearly, a key factor in game hardware sales is software selection. People won't buy new controllers if they can't do anything fun with them. When I first looked at PlayStation Move I noted that it had some fun titles in games like Sports Champions, R.U.S.E., and Tumble, but that it didn't yet have a killer app. Many more Move games have been released since then. I've tried several of them, but I still haven't encountered anything that has knocked my socks off.

Tiger Woods: PGA Tour 11 added Move support in mid-September, but it didn't really enhance the overall experience. I was generally impressed by how well my avatar's club mimicked my movements, but I found I often had difficulty getting the club to line up squarely with the ball when setting up. Plus, putting was a chore-especially inside 10 feet, where my every movement seemed unjustly amplified.

John Daly's Pro Stroke Golf-a new challenger in the sparsely populated golf genre-does a better job with Move controls. It delivers exacting precision while swinging a club and my putting headaches were significantly reduced. Sadly, the rest of the game is well below par (or perhaps above par, in this case), suffering turgid graphics, bad audio, and a lack of interesting play modes.

I was keen to give Time Crisis: Razing Storm a go as I had yet to try a shooter with Move support. It didn't live up to my hopes. Using the navigation controller to walk and making sweeping movements with the motion controller to pan the camera is just as frustrating as I've found it to be in most Wii first-person shooters I've tried. I liked the ability to fine tune targeting within the game's large round reticule, but it wastes time. I can't see why anyone would choose to play this over the PlayStation 3's countless quality shooters that employ a standard controller.

Most of the other Move games I've tried in the last month have been quick and simple first-party games designed for broad audiences

Like a jazzed up version of High Velocity Bowling, a PlayStation Network game from years ago that used the PlayStation DualShock controller's motion sensitivity to let players move their arms to throw a ball. This new edition feels very similar to its predecessor, only now players use the PlayStation Move controller. Unfortunately, even after reading the instructions and practicing for an hour I found I was rarely able to give the ball the sort of spin I intended. Frustrated, I ended up just trying to toss it straight down the alley, which-as any keggler will tell you-isn't nearly as reliable as a good curved throw.

TV Superstars, meanwhile, starts promisingly enough. Players begin by creating fun JibJab-style avatars by mugging for the camera. However, the activities-all of which are set in fake reality programs, such as a fashion competition and a goofy Wipeout-style game show-just aren't fun. They tend to require exaggerated sweeping controller movements, provide frustratingly poor performance feedback, and are just plain dull. A cooking gameshow that has players realistically pouring and shaking ingredients is moderately entertaining, but hardly reason enough to shell out $40.

In fact, there's only been one Move game released over the last month that I've tried and feel safe recommending: The Shoot. It's a simple Duck Hunt-style on-rails shooter that has players taking on the role of an action movie star in a variety of films. We simply piont and shoot at cut-out characters as they pop out of the environment. Scenes usually have at least a couple of special events-such as quick-draw sequences in a western movie-and players earn special moves like rapid fire and slow motion if they can string together enough hits. It's very basic-you don't even have to reload-but it makes good use of PlayStation Move's reliable camera-based tracking system and has no glaring design missteps. It's not exactly a hardware seller, but if you've been looking for a Move game with broad appeal, it fits the bill fairly well.

Perhaps our wait for compelling PlayStation Move content will come to an end with The Fight: Lights Out, which is slated for release this week. This heavily touted fighter lets users hold a Move controller in each hand to provide complete one-to-one control over their avatar's fists. From what I've seen it looks quite good. I don't know if it will qualify as a killer app, but it might just be the sort of kick in the pants Sony's motion-based control platform needs.

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