One thing I’m very excited about is the release of the new Playstation 3D Display. So excited, in fact, that I’ve started a new blog called 3DPlaystation.Net.
I won’t be updating it as often nor as fastidiously as PS3Fitness.Com, but I figured it was a good place to share my thoughts on the new 3D hardware with those of you who might be interested. Feel free to swing by and share your comments.
I did get a chance to play Medieval Moves: Deadmun’s Quest and the demo for Happy Feet 2 in 3D, and I have to say that it is a phenomenal experience. If you’re planning to install a PS3 for fitness in your workout room/den, that monitor is just about the perfect size for it.
If you’ve been looking to “Moveify” your PS3, head on over to Best Buy where you can get a PlayStation Move Bundle for PlayStation 3 for 79.99. Surf around and you’ll also find additional Move controllers for $24.99, Navigation controllers for $14.99, and Sports Champions for under $10.
Grease Dance is yet another in a long series of games intended to cash in on the dance game craze that’s sweeping the nation. It all started with Just Dance on the Wii, and since then, Microsoft has come out with Dance Central and its sequel for the Xbox, while Sony has come out with Everybody Dance.
Grease Dance is published by 505 Games, who is not exactly known for their stellar titles. They do seem to be good at negotiating licenses with big brands–they’ve created branded games for the magazines Field and Stream, Rolling Stone and the movies Top Gun and Days of Thunder. If you look at these games, though, you’ll see that they get horrific reviews and ultimately end up hurting the brand they’re supposed to be representing.
Being a fan of the musical Grease (who isn’t?), I was looking forward to seeing what Grease Dance brought to the table.
The first thing I noticed when starting up the game is that all the graphics are cartoons. Yes, your favorite characters including Danny and Sandy are portrayed, and the graphics are campy in a 50′s sort of way, but personally I would have probably preferred some live action or something just a little less cheesy than the style portrayed here.
As for the gameplay, there are two options. You can Dance, or you can Sing. All of your favorite songs from Grease are represented.
Up to two players can dance at a time. When you start Dancing, you see a screen reminiscent of Dance Central, where two cartoony characters are dancing the moves that you have to mirror. It’s hard to tell at first which character you’re supposed to mimic, it took trial and error for me to figure out I had to copy the one on the left). As with all of these kinds of games, the closer you get to the moves the on-screen character is making, the higher your score will be.
The dance moves were all very authentic and reminiscent of the dances in the movie and the Broadway show. But I noticed one problem right away. The system was not picking up my motions at all. I’d be doing the dance moves perfectly, but I’d get “poor” scores. It was just as bad or worse than the poor motion tracking that plagued first version of Just Dance for the Wii–and this is with the superior technology of the Playstation Move.
There’s a camera image of you in a square in the upper left-hand corner. For some bizarre reason, they decided rather than showing your whole body, the camera view would zoom into only a portion of your body and would “shake” and “rattle” stylistically every time you moved your hand. Worse, sometimes the tight crop would mean your Move controller was out of camera range, which affected your score. It’s as if a developer said, “hey, let’s be different and show off what we can do with the camera”. But this is definitely an example of putting style over substance–the whole point of the camera view is so you can see your own moves and match them against the on-screen dancer. I didn’t find their treatment of the video either useful nor compelling.
There are no tutorials or break-downs of the dance steps, so you’re on your own as far as learning the dance moves.
The “Sing” portion of the game is a little better. They mimic Karaoke Revolution / Singstar, where you can sing the words into a USB microphone and a gauge will show you how accurate you are. I found that it was pretty good at telling whether I was hitting the notes and in tune. So for someone who loves the musical and wants to sing along, this is not a bad feature.
The best way I can sum up this game is that this game feels more like a Wii game from 2009 than a Playstation game from 2011. The fact that the game costs $50 is ridiculous, especially when you consider the far superior Everybody Dance and Just Dance 3 are under $40. I would much, much rather have had the option to download the Grease soundtrack into one of those games as downloadable content. If you’re an absolute die-hard fan of Grease, you will probably be able to overlook the flaws of the game and enjoy it just based on the great music alone. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for a fun dance game, there are definitely much better options out there for you.
While this isn’t directly related to fitness on the PS3, something I’m definitely very excited about is the imminent release of the Playstation 3D display.
I admit, since firmware release 3.30 in March 2010 which brought the ability to play 3D games, and firmware release 3.50 in September 2010 which allowed for playback of 3D Blu-Ray discs, I’ve been seriously contemplating replacing my LCD screen for a new 3D one. Problem is, the economy being what it is, I don’t happen to have $2000 lying around. Still, being able to “immerse” yourself in games, particularly Playstation Move games like Medieval Moves, should really enhance game play.
The PlayStation 3D display is finally getting released on November 13, 2011. It’s not $2500 or $2000 or $1500. You can get it for under $500 (okay, four pennies under, but that’s still under). For that price, you’ll get a very high quality 24″ monitor (if that seems small, remember that just 15 years ago a 25″ inch TV in your living room was considered gargantuan) which boasts active 3D (meaning the crispest, cleanest picture you can get), incredible sound, and a pair of 3D glasses.
What’s more, it’ll play 3D Blu-Ray discs right from your PS3 and can be attached to your cable box for watching TV with crisp digital picture and sound. And if you have a home gym, it’s the perfect size for you to use while working out, whether to a PS3 Fitness Game, or just walking on a treadmill watching the latest 3D movie or your favorite TV show.
Rumor has it that sometime in November, Sony will start selling a “3D Starter Kit” which will include two pairs of 3D glasses and the last two Harry Potter movies in 3D. This is perfect for someone like me who bought the Harry Potter Years 1-6 Blu-rays. Not only will this complete the collection, the last two movies will be in glorious 3D. You might recall that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was supposed to be in 3D, but was released to the theaters in 2D only because they couldn’t finish the 3D process in time. Well, they did now, so you can be the first to see the last two movies in full 3D.
After a disastrous year which included the PSN security debacle, the Japan earthquake, and other things that sent Sony stock plummeting, I have a good feeling that this is going to start to turn their fortunes around. While most TV manufacturers have assumed people want bigger and bigger TVs and would be willing to spend the money for them, I like Sony’s bet that people will be able to shell out $500 to experience 3D on a smaller screen (which ultimately will be crisper than a huge TV because the pixels are closer together AND you’re sitting closer to it). My guess is that they’re not making a ton of money off of it, but like they did with spending the extra money to provide a Blu-Ray drive inside each Playstation, hopefully their gamble that getting 3D in more people’s hands relatively cheaply now will pay off huge for them in the future.
I’ve ordered one myself and will be documenting the unboxing and my thoughts on it as I try new 3D games and demos and new 3D movies and Blu-rays. We’ll be keeping this site focused on PS3 Fitness, so those thoughts will go onto our sister site about the Playstation 3d Display, 3dplaystation.net.
This deal may not last, so pounce on it while you can. There’s been a price drop on Everybody Dance, so the price is only $29.99. As I wrote in my review, it’s a decent game that holds its own against the more popular Just Dance 3 and Dance Central 2 on the other platforms.
Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest is perhaps one of the most anticipated games for the Playstation Move this year. It was developed by the same studio that developed Sports Champions, to this date probably the best Playstation Move game developed. Question is, can they repeat their success with this game? I’m happy to say the answer is yes.
I should start out by saying that this site is called “PS3 Fitness”, and that this game really doesn’t provide much in the way of a fitness workout. Still, it’s definitely more “active” than your traditional first person adventure game, and the controls are so spot-on I definitely wanted to cover the game. But if you want a workout, play it while walking on a treadmill or wearing wrist weights
To play the game, you can choose to use one or two Move controllers–I definitely recommend two for the most natural gameplay (for example, as with Sports Champions, with two controllers you can hold a shield in one hand and a sword in the other; with one you’re constantly switching between the two). You can also choose whether you’re right-handed or left-handed. For purposes of this review, I’ll be speaking from a right-handed point of view, but just reverse everything if you’re left-handed.
The first thing the game does is take you through a little training session so you can get used to all the tools at your disposal. in the game. In a nutshell, here they are:
Sword: You swing the sword with your right hand. As with Sports Champions, the controls are one-to-one, and by far the best, smoothest, and most precise on any platform.
Shield: You hold your shield in your left hand and press the Move button to activate it. You can use it to block attacks or to deflect objects that are thrown at you.
Ninja Stars: You can throw Ninja stars with either hand by holding the controller horizontally and flicking your wrist while pressing and releasing the “T” button. If you’ve played Disc Golf on Sports Champions, it’s the same idea.
Bow and Arrow: The bow and arrow, not surprisingly, are similar to Sports Champions. You hold the “bow” with your left hand, make a motion to take the arrow out of your quiver with your right hand, and draw back and shoot by aiming with both hands, clicking the trigger button with your trigger finger of your right hand, and releasing the button to shoot the arrow. I had some problems with this when I played below, but fixing the lighting and charging my controller fixed that up.
Grappling Hook: There will be certain times in the game where you need to scale walls or use grappling hooks to swing your way from place to place. Hooks will be marked on the walls. When you see one, you point your right-hand Move controller down, hold the trigger button, and point the controller forward, and release the button.
Milk Bottle: As you withstand attacks from enemies, your health will go down. You need to collect and drink milk to replenish your health. To do so, hold your right Move controller like it’s a bottle of milk, press the Move button, and make a “drinking a bottle of milk” motion.
Here’s the tutorial lesson you’re giving at the outset of the game:
Throughout the game you’ll see objects like Milk and Coins which you shoot or strike with your sword to collect. As the game progresses, there will be certain times when you need to use the controllers to do other things, such as pull down a drawbridge or pick a lock. As with other games of this type, you’ll reach milestones called “bookmarks”.
Interestingly, in this game, you don’t control the character’s movements (after all, you’d need a third hand to hold the Navigation Controller). Instead, the character runs automatically. Your character will always automatically turn to face whatever “action” is going on at the time. In all honesty, I don’t mind this very much, although if you’re used to playing first person shooters and having full control over any 360 degree views you like, you may find this constraining.
The one place I do find this a little annoying is when there are objects in the room you need to collect; the character will give you a few seconds to try to shoot or touch whatever you can before moving on.
Overall, the best way to summarize Medieval Moves is that it feels very much like an extension of Sports Champions. It takes many of the same mechanics and tools and applies them to an adventure story. That the game is playable in 3D makes the experience even more immersive and appealing (I’ll post a separate review on 3dplaystation.net once I get my 3D system set up and let you know how that goes).
As for the story itself, my best advice would be to come with the right expectations. Don’t expect anything like Resistance or Uncharted. The game is more like a rail shooter than an open world game. Still, the novelty of being able to wield various weapons and gadgets in a realistic way (instead of the usual mashing of buttons) makes this one a game a positive step forward for Move games. While the storyline and premise may not be the strongest, what more than makes up for it is that you’re actually wielding a sword and shield and throwing ninja stars by just making the natural motions, without even thinking about it, which provides an experience that’s far beyond old-fashioned button mashing. Here’s hoping that future games will use this as a jumping off point and start to develop games that really do approach virtual reality, where motion control isn’t just a gimmick, but something that really enhances game play.
The original Motion Sports was released about a year ago for the Kinect. By virtually all accounts it was underwhelming. The concept sounded great–simulate real sports, and instead of using cartoony avatars use realistic graphics. And instead of using controllers, allow players to control the action with their body. But the execution on the Xbox just fell short.
This year, Ubisoft is at it again, but instead they’ve released MotionSports Adrenaline for the PS3, Wii, and Xbox. Their focus this time is on six “extreme sports”.
As you start each activity, you choose whether you’re left handed or right handed, and then calibrate your Move controller by holding it at shoulder level, at hip level, and across your belt line, just like with Sports Champions. The controller accuracy and precision, not surprisingly, is pretty good. I wish I could say the same about the gameplay itself.
Here’s my take on each “extreme sport”:
Kite Surf: Here, you’re kite-surfing. You hold the Move controller sideways (you only need one) and you “steer” by tilting your hands as if you’re steering a wheel. You jump by holding the “T” button and raising your arms. You can get a speed boost by holding the “T” button and pushing forward. You can “strike poses” at various points (which they call “hitting tricks”) and you can “collect coins” to earn points.
While the graphics were decent and the motion controls were responsive enough, it just didn’t feel like a realistic experience. I was expecting more of a realistic “simulation”, but but at the end of the day it just felt like a video game that I may as well have been playing with the Dualshock controller, as the Move controllers just didn’t feel natural at all.
Mountain Bike: Here, you’re mountain biking, but the controls for steering, jumping, and accelerating are exactly the same as with Kite Surfing. In fact, except for one part where you need to “steer” your bike through a tight turn they’re essentially the same game. Again, the best way I can describe it is that it felt like a “video game”, but between the controls, the physics, and various gimmicks like “collecting stars”, it really draw me into the experience nor make me feel like I was immersed in the world of mountain biking.
Wingsuit: In this game, you’re skydiving. The controls are slightly different for this one–you steer by holding your Move controller out to the side and tilting your body left or right. You can “drift up” by holding the “T” button and raising both your arms, and “draft down” by lowering both your arms. To speed up, you press the Move button. You have to contend with wind gusts and rock formations, and again you can collect points by striking poses and collecting coins.
This game lasted far, far too long and once again, and yet again something about the controls and the physics of the game was off and unrealistic. To be honest, even the silly “flying chicken” game in Wii Fit felt more like “real flying” than this did.
Climbing: This is a rock climbing “simulation”. You’re climbing the face of a mountain that happens to have “handholds” all over it. To climb, you grab onto a handhold by reaching out to it with your Move controller (whether to the side, or diagonally up) and making a “grabbing” motion. Some handholds will be out of reach, so you need to “flick” the controller to jump to them. To drop down to a lower handhold, you press the Move button.
This is one I really wanted to like, but at the end of the day the “flicking” really didn’t feel like real rock climbing, plus half the time my motions wouldn’t register properly.
I guess they wanted to add a little “excitement” to the game so there will be the occasional “earthquake”, where if you have enough “adrenaline” stored up, you can press the “T” button for a “shield” which will protect you from them. Again, I didn’t find the experience very realistic.
And worst of all, once you reach the top, you’re not even rewarded with a view.
Skiing: I’ve been pretty harsh on all the games so far, but I found skiing to be the one bright spot of the game. Finally, I felt like I was really skiing. The controls were intuitive–you hold your Move controller in front of your like it’s a ski pole and bend your body left or right to ski downhill. You can accelerate by intuitively pressing T and pushing the pole.
This is one I really enjoyed, as everything worked together–the graphics, the physics, and the intuitive controls. I even broke a sweat while playing. I only wish the others were more like it.
Kayak: With Kayaking, we’re back to a rather unfulfilling experience. Again, the controls just don’t feel very natural. You use the “steering wheel” method of steering. You can paddle by pressing the “T” button and moving your control like a paddle. But you can’t do both at the same time (like you’d do in real kayaking). There are other oddities–you’ll occasionally get swept into a whirlwind, and to escape you need to “strike a pose”. Again, things like this kind of detract from the realism.
Here’s a problem I have with all the games in general. With the exception of skiing, they just didn’t feel realistic. For most of the games your on-screen character just seems to proceed on the course without any kind of effort from you, the only thing you really do is jump and steer to collect “coins”. In this sense, it just feels more like a 3-D version of Pac-Man or Mario Brothers than an “extreme sports simulation”.
To me, the whole point of calling this franchise “MotionSports” is to help us experience what playing the real sport must feel like. As I mentioned a couple times, for most of the sports the controls just weren’t realistic and it almost feels like the game was designed for a Dualshock controller and the Move controller was just thrown on as an afterthought, and not a very good one at that. For example, instead of making me press the T button and throwing my arms up to make me jump, why couldn’t they just…make me jump?
Something else I didn’t really like were unrealistic gimmicks in the game such as striking poses and collecting coins. To me, it just felt like the developers knew their simulations weren’t very good, so they added these things to make it feel like you’re accomplishing something. I wish there were more simulation games like Sports Champions, where your reward is playing the sport itself, not collecting points.
Finally, one very, very annoying part of the game is the Degree ads all over the game. I don’t mind a little product placement when it’s subtle and even tongue-in-cheek, but if a company is going to get a sponsor to plaster their logo all over the game, then for heaven’s sake don’t charge $49.99 for the game.
I hate to say it, but I just can’t recommend MotionSports Adrenaline. If you’re a die-hard fan of any of the sports, you may enjoy the graphics and the concept of being able to somewhat simulate the sport.
But from a “fun” perspective, with the exception of the skiing game, I really didn’t find any of the games compelling enough to even play more than once or twice. There wasn’t even very much of a workout component, something I was really hoping for when I first picked up the game.
What could have been a innovative foray in the world of virtual reality sports just ended up being just another tired video game that happens to support motion controls.
At one point Tony Hawk: Shred was released to a lot of fanfare. Tony Hawk himself participated in the design of the skateboard controller, and it seemed like this would be the first of many skateboarding titles for the Wii.
Unfortunately, consumers weren’t quite willing to shell out the money for it (at one point it was going for over $80), and those who did get it found the setup and calibration to be frustrating. On the other hand, die-hard Tony Hawk fans and skateboarding fans seemed to like it (note that on Amazon most of the reviews are tepid, but a few on Amazon and Best Buy are rave reviews).
My guess is that Best Buy just wants to clear them out of their stores right now to make room for Christmas 2011 inventory (notice that it’s available for free in-store pickup only, not shipped). So if there’s a skateboarding fan in your life, here’s your chance to pick up a brand new game with a brand new controller for less than the price of renting one.
With the introduction of 3D gaming and the Sony Move Wii-like motion controllers, 2010 looks to be the year that the Sony Playstation 3 takes video games to the next level. Stay tuned to this blog for the latest news and game reviews of the Sony Move and new games as they come out!