PlayStation Move Heroes Review
PlayStation Move is a nifty and supremely sensitive motion-sensing system, and it can be immensely effective depending on the game and situation. However, when a game is designed specifically for the motion-based mechanic and falls short in terms of overall control and substance, we’re once again reminded of Move’s relative youth. We’ve no doubt that developers can do some pretty amazing things with such fine-tuned sensibility but with a few significant exceptions, we haven’t seen anything to drop our jaws just yet. The problem with PlayStation Move Heroes is that despite offering an all-star cast, a charming and appealing premise, and accessibility for just about anyone, there just isn’t enough to keep us entertained. And what can be considered entertaining suffers from common motion-sensing issues.
The graphics are colorful and the level design is decent, but the entire presentation lacks that spit and polish usually applied to the Ratchet & Clank adventures. I only use that one series as a comparison because Sly hasn’t returned (yet) and Jak has been taking a long break since last generation. Anyway, the visuals in Move Heroes can best be described as a game that looks good, but doesn’t try very hard to reach the stars. It’s sort of content to be borderline pretty, and that’s it. The effects are nice, though, and any follower of the franchises in question will easily recognize that cartoon-y yet always attractive flair. It’s just that nothing stands out, which means most of what we see is soon forgotten.
The sound is helped along by some solid effects and the single biggest highlight: all the original voice actors for the major characters are here. Voices alone have never actually compelled me to play more of a game I dislike…until now. When you combine the stellar performances with an effective soundtrack and those crisp, rewarding effects, you get audio that enhances and bolsters an otherwise frustrating experience. Unfortunately, much like the rest of the game, even the sound and music begins to wear due to repetition and a distinct sense of disappointed expectations. The audio can’t really stand out in a ho-hum technical presentation that almost refuses to let any one element shine. Thankfully, the voices of those PlayStation icons really stem the tide…at least for a while.
It’s a great idea: take three of the most recognizable and beloved names in the PlayStation universe (sidekicks included), and drop them into a fun, diverse cooperative adventure. You get to use whips, wrenches, guns, and developer Nihilistic even tosses in some sports-related mini-games to add to the platforming/action format. At first, everything seems to be going along well; you just gotta love the tremendous trio, and given the potential due to each character’s unique characteristics, you figure you’re in for a fair amount of wand-waving entertainment. I mean, I sort of miss Sly and his sneaky ways, and I miss Jak, too. Having Ratchet is almost more of a bonus, ‘cuz we see him all the time these days. It’s just a great cast and a great concept.
It’s just that there’s isn’t much of anything here. Sure, we get Paris, Metropolis, and Haven City, but the repetition of the design and gameplay hinders our enjoyment something fierce. There are different activities, like bowling and disc-throwing, and the action segments can be fun and even rewarding, but the environments seem small and cramped, and the control doesn’t always work. First of all, you can’t even jump. I mean, you can’t jump whenever you want. That alone is enough to annoy the crap out of long-time fans (the games in question were all part platformer, after all), and the melee and whip controls are just far too inconsistent and unreliable. Supposedly, you only have to shake the Move controller at nearby enemies, but that just doesn’t seem to register as often as it should. And by “often,” I mean all the time.
The lack of mobility also allows enemies to easily surround you, which can make all the action sequences downright maddening. The sports-related activities are a little better: in bowling, you toss the ball and control it in mid-roll by aiming your wand. It has to go around obstacles and stuff, and smash the desired targets. Disc golf is even better because you control the Frisbee in mid-air, which made me think, “how cool would it be if I could do this in Sports Champions?” Directing the disc is sort of like flying a very small plane through an obstacle course, and Move seems to work best with this particular mechanic. As I said, there is some sense of reward because you earn medals based on your performance, and it also adds to the longevity, so that's a definite bonus.
The whole thing just continues to trip and stumble due to erratic and irritating control. There were just too many times when Ratchet, Jak or Sly simply refused to execute the command I absolutely provided, and when you factor in the less-than-impressive graphics and repetitive nature of the gameplay, you begin to get tired all too quickly. Now, because there are multiple characters, you can ask a buddy to jump in, but your options are usually limited to a little set of mini-games. Plus, the second player doesn’t have a full role; he just aims a reticule and tries to target roving enemies. Sadly, the whole process is way too slow – regardless of your friend’s competence – and Player 2 ends up yawning rather than grinning. You too will start to yawn if you spend more than a few hours with this one.
PlayStation Move Heroes has a ton of potential and promise but doesn’t really deliver. In all honesty, I just wanted to bowl or throw that disc; I couldn’t handle the action parts after the first few hours. The control fails far too often, the presentation is just “meh” and those fantastic voices and decent soundtrack can’t save the entire lackluster production. Everything begins to feel like too much of a chore, and it’s not a chore you care enough about to complete. The repetitiveness is just too much to deal with and adding in a second player doesn’t really help. It’s too bad, because the three video game legends involved deserve better.
The Good: Iconic, all-star cast. Great voices and effective music. Some intriguing event and activity ideas. Glimpses of pure fun.
The Bad: Lackluster technical presentation. Erratic, unrealiable control. Terrible repetition. Two-player option is disappointing. Nowhere near enough to do overall.
The Ugly: "Oh yes I did make the right movement!"
4/13/2011 Ben Dutka