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Jeremy Jastrzab
13 Apr, 2011

PlayStation Move Heroes Review

PS3 Review | From hero to zero.
It seemed that the war over motion control was in high gear, as the Nintendo Wii broke records and forced both Sony and Microsoft to play catch up. Microsoft’s Kinect has been selling faster than the iPad and iPhone, even with a lacklustre future line-up. The PlayStation Move on the other hand, got off to a good start but has really stalled for momentum. And the few games that were released did little to utilise the technology or really give any compelling reason to play them.

While Sony has resorted to adapting a lot of their core titles to be Move compatible, which includes the recently released Killzone 3 and the upcoming Resistance 3, dedicated Move titles haven’t been forgotten. Even though Sony never had a set mascot such as Mario or Pikachu, the trio from the Sly Racoon, Ratchet and Clank and Jak and Daxter games were cornerstones of the PlayStation identity, especially on the PS2. So what better way to promote a new peripheral than slapping all three heroes (and each of their sidekicks) together in PlayStation Move Heroes?

The PlayStation Move technology itself actually works pretty well, but precious few titles use it to the fullest extent. With PlayStation Move Heroes, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect a rekindling of the 3D platforming and exploration characterised by two console generations worth of titles, refreshed through the use of PlayStation Move. These expectations though are thrown out the window, as the title is really a glorified mini-game collection. Unfortunately this means that, even with a fairly stellar cast and solid technology, PlayStation Move Heroes doesn’t even come close to fulfilling its excellent potential.

The story, for all that it’s worth, basically has the three hero sets - Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, Sly and Bentley - brought through to an alternate universe, where a pair of slimy aliens get them to face off against one another in a series of challenges. Many of the challenges have you saving little green and purple critters (Whibbles) from the hordes of enemies taken from all three franchises, and it soon becomes apparent that the heroes have more on their hands than a simple competition. Told over a handful of cut scenes, the story is only just enough to carry the single player through roughly four hours to ‘completion’.

Fore!

Fore!
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The game is split into four worlds (including Paris from Sly, Haven City from Jak and Metropolis City from Ratchet), which are then split into a number of levels. Each level has a number of challenges within it, which are unlocked by winning medals – bronze, silver and gold. You start off with one level, and each medal win will unlock a new one. Medals are extremely easy to earn, and you unlock levels regardless of the colour. As such, it’s very possible to breeze through the game without any hindrances.

Each of the challenges (re: mini-games) will have you playing as either one hero (Ratchet, Jak or Sly) or one sidekick (Clank, Daxter or Bentley). Both the heroes and sidekicks have fairly different handling challenges, which cover the following activities: collecting whibbles and taking them back to their mother (similar to capture the flag), surviving enemy waves, protecting whibble pods, destroying whibble cages and collecting crystals to power escape rockets. To the credit of the game, it does a nice job of mixing up the different types of challenges with different sets of playing mechanics.

The playing mechanics though, are divided into five different kinds of weapons: Melee, Whip, Projectile, Disc and Bowling. Keep in mind, that all your actions are controlled with the Move wand and navigation controller exclusively. All the commands are very simple, with mostly the motions, triggers and the Move button utilised. With melee, you take control of one of the three heroes in their original forms, for example: Ratchet and his… ratchet. The move controller fairly accurately picks up either your horizontal and vertical swipes, while also allowing for defensive maneuvers. In theory, melee combat works well but the often narrow level design and heavy enemy waves often devolve the play into your typically senseless waggle-fest found on the Wii.

Robot goes BOOM!

Robot goes BOOM!
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The whip, which is used exclusively by heroes, works just as well as the melee combat. You’ll notice that the one-to-one capture works pretty well. You can whip and grab enemies, but it’s a little disappointing that you can’t swipe readily. Just like melee combat, when the action gets frantic, you’re left with senseless failing that makes the controls seem less responsive than they are. Projectile combat, as in the guns used by sidekicks, is much more fun. With either a mini-gun, shotgun or grenade launcher, the corridor-like levels actually work quite well in this case and the move controls can’t be faulted. It’s a shame that this wasn’t implemented into a real game, as it works extremely well.

Heroes will also play a ‘bowling’ challenge where, using the move controller, you’ll control your bowling ball through various obstacles and adapt as the challenge requires. The sidekicks have a ‘disc’ throwing challenge, where you remotely control a Frisbee-like disc, again through obstacles and as the challenge requires. Occasionally, the controls can feel a bit loose, but this at least keeps you on edge. Otherwise, it all works as it should. While you can’t compete with another player, you can team up if you have two sets of Move controls, where the second player assists the first as a sidekick.

Aside from the fidgety camera and the lack of control you have over it, it’s the traditional analog movement controls which are annoyingly stiff and get hooked on obstructions way too easily, and the lack of a dedicated jump button is slightly bemusing. Otherwise, the move controls themselves all work really well. So well that it makes it even more of a shame that the game isn’t something more than a glorified set of mini-games. It’s very easy to envisage these controls being implemented into a proper 3D platformer or adventure game.

It's all fun and games until someone has to clean up that mess...

It's all fun and games until someone has to clean up that mess...
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Obviously stuck between appeasing a mass audience and the gamer looking for a challenge, mastering the mechanics isn’t easy, but progression is ridiculously easy. Only the youngest of players will struggle to even cover the bronze medal requirements, which will still allow you to progress. So to get to the ‘end’, it will take around four hours. However, if you want to chase high scores, unlockables such as hidden coins and costumes and unlock the ‘diamond’ challenges, which actually do demand some skills, it will take you longer. Unfortunately, weak level designs will either frustrate you or have you racking up gold medals easily enough that you’ve got no reason to go back.

For what it’s worth though, the game is actually quite a visual treat. Set on a cluster of space rocks, each of the iconic areas from the three franchises is quite well recreated. While the levels become hard to distinguish after a while, each is actually very vibrant and highly detailed. Heroes, sidekicks and enemies are all superbly animated and it’s great to see their 'character' retained and even enhanced at the HD level. The sound track is suitable too, as it contains a good mix of the familiar, up-beat tunes. Everyone and everything sounds like it should, and it’s interesting to note the announcer’s changing attitude and tone over the course of the game.

There’s no point complaining about what PlayStation Move Heroes isn’t, but what it is, isn’t in the least crash-hot. The Move implementation ‘works’ and there are a few hours of instant thrills. However, the Move controls do nothing that hasn’t been done on the Wii, even if it’s slightly more accurate and it’s a short, shallow and benignly easy title that does just about nothing to harness the endless potential from three hugely popular and diverse franchises. It almost feels like the start of something pretty neat, but upon completion it doesn’t even come close to finishing the first act. Sony has a bit of work on its hands…
The Score
PlayStation Move Heroes works well enough, but it's too short, too easy and too shallow to warrant the attention that you would have expected from of the most recognisable Sony icons. 5
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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2 Comments
3 years ago
The Move is beginning to feel like its lost somewhere in the wilderness, have Sony got a killer app. up there sleeve or was it a case of hit and hope. M$ have spent huge $$$ promoting Kinetic and it paid off sales wise. Come on Sony do show us something that'll get me to spend my pinga's on your wand !!!
3 years ago
It's interesting I think. Sony are really pushing the Move for everything, trying to really integrate it and using it to it's fullest, from what I can tell anyway. Sony are definitely at the forefront of "interactive" gaming (worst way to describe it, but anyway), stuff like Invisimals, Eyepet, Move integration into it's top titles all this stuff is pushing the boundaries of human interaction in gaming but consumers don't seem to be really going for it. It's like it's too much work.

Microsoft, on the other hand, are doing sweet FA with Kinect even though through hacking we've been shown that the thing is freaking godly in what it can do. Yet the Kinect still comes across as the better buy to me even though 95% of it feels very throwaway. Even the whole integration with Forza 4, I'm going to have to try it because it just sounds like a subpar control set. Maybe it's just me but even holding a controller feels more accurate than a pretend steering wheel.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  14/04/2011 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  SCEE
Year Made:
  2011
Players:
  2

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