Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Playstation Move Heroes Hands-On

One of the PlayStation Move titles I've been most excited about is Playstation Move Heroes (formerly known as Heroes on the Move), developer Nihilistic Software's mini-game fest that features a number of Sony's most popular "mascot" characters from the multimillion-selling Jak & Daxter, Sly Cooper and Ratchet & Clank franchises. At Sony's very cool Move event this evening, I got a bit of hands-on time with a few of the mini-games in the collection and came away very impressed at how things are shaping up. First things first to those on the fence: once you get your hands on one, you'll find that the Move simply rocks. As more developers get into programming different types of games for the peripheral, we'll be seeing a lot of unique, fun game experiences down the road.

Heroes is a mostly straightforward all-ages game that uses both the Move wand and Move Navigation controller in an excellent mix of action-based segments, context-sensitive platforming and even a bit of shooting. I got to play as Sly Cooper in a fun "bowling" style game where rolling spheres were used to knock out aliens in one well laid out stage. What made this section cool was the need to line up the sphere and roll it around obstacles toward ramps and speed up rings that would send it blasting into one or more of the aliens with the proper timing. Speaking of timing, a constantly ticking clock kept things tense, but more time was awarded for taking down aliens or knocking out hourglass power-ups hidden throughout the level.

Sly moved around the map with the Navigation controller, but getting to all the aliens required running to certain spots in the level with a Move icon hovering above. At these spots, pressing the center button on the Move wand sent him jumping over to a new spot where more aliens awaited in new formations. I actually ran out of time during this trickier section, but that was a great sign that Heroes won't be a simple rushed-out experience that even casual players will blow through in a day or two. Mastering sphere control with the Move wand is key here and in the Flying Disc map, where I got to play as Daxter.

Controlling the Flying Disc is trickier than using the sphere, but the possibility for chaining together multiple combos with a single disc makes this section a ton of challenging fun. In this stage, using the Navigation controller to move Daxter around was key in acquiring more discs, hourglass pickups and locating out of the way enemies. My only suggestion to the dev team would be to add some sort of radar to these sections, as some enemies are so well-hidden that younger players or those with a poor sense of direction have a better clue of where to look or throw discs. In the current build, you see the number of enemies remaining and it's up to you to track them down as the clock ticks away.

The final area I got to play (as Clank this time) was a great shooting section packed full of enemies, explosions and collectible gems galore. the goal in this game was to destroy three alien "towers" guarded by waves of enemies throughout a nicely sized map. Using the Move wand as a laser zapper and the Navigation controller for movement worked like a dream and strafing was not only encouraged, it helped in avoiding a few eagle-eye gunners and mini-bosses sprinkled throughout the map.

This section was completely un-timed, so collecting all the gems and blowing up every crate or other destructible object was quite satisfying (and should keep item collection fans quite happy) . There were also limited-use special weapon icons throughout the map that changed the blaster into a fire-bomb shot of sorts, good for taking out tougher enemies. Health gems, some in hidden spots boosted Clank back to normal if he took too many hits and overall, this was the most fun portion of the demo. if anything, it's a nice warm-up for the gameplay found in SCEA's Sorcery, the fantasy action shooter still in development.

Visually, the game is sharp and solid all around, featuring loads of detail as well as excellent use of color and lighting effects (as to be expected from a PS3 game this generation). Character models all look fantastic (it's nice to see a fully 3D Sly Cooper, which makes me want to see Sucker Punch finally get around to programming Sly 4 one day) and you'll see some funny win/lose animations should you er, win or lose a round. Like many Move titles, you'll need to recalibrate the controller between games, but the simple two step process takes just seconds and doesn't hinder the overall experience one bit.

Fans of Sony's classic PS2 and PS3 platformers will no doubt be on the lookout for a demo version to hit PSN and I'm sure SCEA won't keep these guys and gals waiting too long to give the game a spin. While Heroes on the Move isn't set to hit stores until Spring 2011, it's sure to be one of the biggest hits for the Move peripheral that anyone and everyone can enjoy. We'll have more coverage on Playstation Move Heroes as info comes in - stay tuned...

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