Last night I attended the Playstation Move Meet Up in Washington D.C. It was held at Current Sushi on 1215 CT Ave NW, which is halfway between the Farragut North and Dupont Circle metro stops, both of which may sound familiar to Fallout 3 fans. I arrived at 5:30, and there was already a line going the length of three or four stores. It looked ready to rain, so a lot of people were anxious to get in, while others were equally annoyed or happy when people asked what we were all in line for.
In talking with several people in line, I learned that the primary reason people were attending was not to test out the Playstation Move, but for the free food and open bar that Sony had advertised. There was one or two people that outright said they didn’t care about the games and were just there for drinks. Never underestimate the power of free alcohol I guess. I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed in some of those answers, but there were people there honestly excited about the Move and were saying how Sony will finally recapture the #1 spot in this console generation, how it will crush the Wii, and how it will change everything in gaming forever. This other side of the spectrum amused me with its naivety and/or brand loyalty (take your pick)
The doors opened slightly late at 6:15, and you had to present your driver’s license to get in. Depending on your age you received a blue (21 years of age or older) or a red (under 21) wristband. You then had to list your name, city, state, email and PSN ID on a piece of paper. After that you got a Playstation Move t-shirt. The first floor featured three kiosks, while the second floor featured another three kiosks and the open bar. Nearly everyone went upstairs and stayed upstairs for the duration of their stay.
The upstairs kiosks featured a bit from Start the Party, a second featured what was called “emulated reality” which was just the eye toy projecting footage of you and the move controller took on a cartoonish bit like a sword, baseball bat, or Sony logo. The third kiosk had a game that looked a lot like the WiiWare game Shadowplay except it was a puzzle platformer where a shadow stick figure had to maneuver through the shadow of a maze, and said shadow would change based on where you held a light source (via the move) in relation to the puzzle. I hadn’t seen anything about this game before nor could I get anyone to let me know if it was a standalone, a tech demo, or part of some other game. No one else in attendance seemed to know what it was either. Fortunately, a google search via my blackberry revealed it to be Echochrome II. Unfortunately, the would-be Sony rep for this area didn’t spend much time talking to gamers or the media; he was texting on his cell the whole time. I have a nice photo of it here to the left. Meanwhile the other was just drinking at the bar. Awesome hiring job, Sony!
The bottom floor featured two kiosks of Sports Champions, one highlighting Ping Pong, and one highlighting the gladiatorial combat bits. The third featured Kung Fu Rider. Here the Sony rep was more helpful. She was showing gamers how to properly use the move controller and was very lively.
I managed to play all of the games and well, I have to say I wasn’t that impressed. Playstation Move was…okay, but nothing amazing or ground shaking. All the games rather felt like they had been done before on the Wii. Sports Champions felt like a prettier but duller version of Wii Sports. Ping Pong was obviously their answer to Wii Tennis, but just felt like a lesser version of that for the PS3. The controllers worked fine, and the games were in full high definition, but it just wasn’t that fun. Gladiator felt like Soul Calibur Legends, or a bad version of swordplay from Wii Sports Resort. Neither one grabbed me. Start the Party! was just flat out boring and neither mini-game grabbed me, or anyone really. There were times when it was hard to get someone to take the controller. Kung Fu Rider was the game I was most interested in going in to this event, and it was still the best of the games when all was said and done, but it was a lot slower than I was expecting. I was thinking the game would be fast paced and frantic, but it was actually very slow. In fact, that’s something I noticed about all the Playstation Move games – everything moved very slowly, especially in comparison to a Nintendo Wii title. Perhaps the controls don’t work as well in a faster paced game? Other journalists and media publications that were there, including the Washington Post are saying the same thing in regards to Playstation Move being a less impressive, less intuitive, and more complicated (in terms of having to constantly recalibrate, make sure you Eyetoy is in JUST the right spot and having JUST the right lighting in order to get it to function properly) experience than the Nintendo Wii
I spent two hours at the event, talking to random strangers. Most of the people I talked to were happy about the free drinks, were unhappy that the food was mostly cheetos and commercial junk food snacks rather than appetizers from Current (They did provide small samples of eggrolls, cupcakes, slices of meat and the like, but I think most of these people were excepting an open sushi bar ala the open booze bar) and most people were underwhelmed by the games in general. I saw some people playing PSP or DS games rather than trying the Playstation Move titles and the bar had far more people around it than all of the kiosks combined. In this respect, I felt sorry for Sony because they actually did a nice job with the event, and then most people turned around and came just to get free alcohol and then complain. Now granted, I’m complaining that all of the games were a bit lackluster, but at least I played them and actually came for the games themselves. To be honest, I had more people come up to me and cut a WWE style promo to me (since I was wearing The Miz’s “I’m Awesome!” shirt) than I would see in a line for one of the games. People seemed to be more content to drink and/or watch someone else play than actually experience the Move itself. At the same time, there were literally hundreds of people there throughout the event, so Sony definitely got the word out about their latest product. However very few of those people will actually be purchasing some variant of Playstation Move based on the comments made towards me by random passerbys and strangers.
In all, I have to admit that I’m glad I got the chance to experience Playstation Move because now I can go down to my Gamestop and cancel my preorder of the Sports Champions bundle, Kung Fu Rider and Sorcery. That’s $160 I can put towards other games. Playstation Move just didn’t wow me at all – especially not the way the Nintendo Wii did when it came out. It really just felt that Sony was trying to ape the Wii and in doing so, provided us with games that felt like we had already played better, but uglier, versions already on Nintendo’s system. Will the Playstation Move be another bust ala the PSP Go, or will people actually shell out the cost of two games in order to experience motion sensitive gaming on a high definition system? We’ll find out in a month or so when Playstation Move officially launches.