Old action heroes never die; they just do ensemble gigs to revive their flagging careers. Look at what The Expendables did for Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Mickey Rourke. Okay, so the reviews were mixed, but the movie did raise the actors’ profiles and introduced them to a whole new generation of moviegoers. The same could be said of old video game heroes, and we were quite excited by the prospect of a crossover title starring three classic PS2 duos and the new PlayStation Move motion controller. Ratchet and sidekick Clank have already seen some PS3 action, but - remastered ports aside - Jak, Daxter, Sly and Bentley were in danger of becoming gaming has-beens. They still have some pulling power, however, and what better way to showcase the Move’s technology than an action/platform uber-game combining all three franchises? Nice premise… except PlayStation Move Heroes is essentially a collection of glorified mini-games, tied together with some glitzy cut scenes and a far-fetched plot.
Speaking of which, our pointy-eared heroes and their sidekicks are going about their daily business, when they are abducted by aliens and thrown together in an intergalactic arena, for the purpose of competing in a series of action-based challenges to determine the ultimate champion. At least, that’s what the abductors tell them. Their actual intent is far more sinister, and is gradually revealed through a series of cut scenes.
The game features environments, foes and weaponry from all three franchises, as well as familiar collectibles which unlock costume options for our heroes. All six characters are playable; however you are usually presented with a choice of three (and towards the end, no choice at all). It takes around 5-10 minutes of hands-on play to become familiar with the mini-games and controls, and only a handful of hours to finish the entire game. To get the most out of the experience you will probably need to invest in a navigation controller; less cumbersome than operating a traditional wireless controller one-handed, but costs around $60. Whatever option you choose, you’ll be able to practice your targeting and waggling skills before diving into the action - for the first few levels, at least. Using the Move does add an element of novelty, but we do have to wonder why there is no option to use just a traditional controller… surely it wouldn’t have been too difficult to map the controls, and doing so would have made the game accessible to more prospective buyers.
There are several basic types of timed and untimed challenges, such as gathering crystals to fuel rockets, futuristic Frisbee and bowling (with moving obstacles and destructible objects!), or rescuing cute little aliens (Whibbles). Fulfilling set criteria will award you with bronze, silver or gold medal rankings, and by mixing and matching challenge types with weapon types, we are offered more variety… but that doesn’t necessarily mean more fun. For example, if you don’t enjoy operating the flying disc, you probably won’t enjoy any mission in which it features (we didn’t).
Combat is another matter entirely: in many of the games a good deal of shooting or melee is involved, and the fast-paced action will keep you on your toes. Each of the heroes has a unique, supercharged ‘ultimate ability’, and there’s even the occasional boss to contend with, which also throws a bit of variety into the mix. Enemy AI isn’t good, however, and this should provide some clue as to the target audience. Another clue lies in the overall difficulty level; while some of the challenges are downright frustrating – mostly due to controller sensitivity and awkward camera angles, completing the game itself is easy. Once it’s done and dusted, you probably won’t want another run through, unless it’s to find any collectibles you may have missed, or earn a better ranking.
For some reason, the sole multiplayer option is a two player co-op mode; however this is a bit misleading, as the second player is relegated to a supporting role, a floating cursor whose purpose is collecting and shooting crystals [Sounds a lot like Super Mario Galaxy - Ed.] while player one takes centre stage. This might be useful in a ‘parent assists child’ situation (yep, still picking up after the kids), but in terms of entertainment value, playing second fiddle is no fun at all.
There’s no denying the game packs some beautiful visuals, from the lavish environments - displayed to best advantage via slow motion fly-bys - to the spectacular FX. Frame rate is smooth throughout, even when there’s plenty of onscreen action. The character models look great, and for the fans, the original voice actors have been brought on board to bring them to life… although the humour doesn’t flow as freely as in previous titles.
PlayStation Move Heroes has attempted to combine certain aspects of the platform, shooter and party game genres without being pigeonholed into any one of them. While the overall effect is a little disjointed, it will still hold plenty of short term appeal for younger gamers, being better looking and more sophisticated than the Buzz Junior-type games they are used to; however fans of the original PS2 classics will probably be disappointed. Release date is currently 14th April, and a demo is available. We recommend you try before you buy.