For the first time in PlayStation's 15 year history, six of its most loved characters have come together to compete in intergalactic games. Featuring the witty wombat Ratchet and his trusty robot friend Clank, sneaky raccoon Sly and tech savvy Bentley, and finally the dark eco-powered Jak and his energy-packed ottsel (weasel + otter) partner Daxter, this PlayStation Move exclusive has a lot riding on it.
Players start by selecting a zone and then a game type, each with a goal of freeing cute little aliens named “Whibbles”, also known as fans throughout the game. For game types, there are a few different variants each with their own style and quirks, and to add to the mix, not only are there multiple game types, but also multiple ways to play each of these levels by using different weapons or objects to accomplish the goals. For example, one game type has three Whibble eggs that must hatch and as the player, your goal is to protect these three eggs from enemies. Sometimes, you’ll have to protect them with a whip, while other times you’ll use your melee weapon or a gun.
Depending on which weapon is selected, the style of attack will need to be adjusted. Weapons include a flying disc, a remote-controlled bomb, a whip, a melee weapon, which coincides with the character selected (Jak has a hammer, Ratchet has a wrench, and Sly has his cane), and also various guns which range from a bomb launcher to a shotgun style gun.
Other than protecting Whibblet eggs, players will be returning the fans to their mother, launching escape rockets for the little purple guys, destroying cages that imprison your cute little friends or simply surviving long enough to free a Whibble. Each of these game modes are very different in style and all offer unique challenges; for example, protecting the Whibble egg often has players protecting three at once as well as watching their character's health, while in survival the gamer will only have to worry about their own health.
Levels will also sometimes offer other various challenges such as mini bosses or controllable environment weapons, including raining bombs along paths or opening/closing doors and launch pads to reach other areas of the maps. Each zone of the map will also feature a hidden collectible item, and collecting enough of these items will unlock player costumes.
The PlayStation icons split into two groups: main character (Jak, Ratchet and Sly) and their sidekicks (Daxter, Clank and Bentley). At the start of each challenge players will be able to select any three from the selected category to use and depending on who is selected, gamers will have access to different special abilities once they collect enough crystals. Each ability is taken from the game in which the hero derives; for example, Clank’s special attack will summon Zonies to assist him while Sly will activate the very useful Thief Time ability to slow down time. These special attacks add a slight level of strategy to each level because using the correct type of special attack at the right time could greatly help in achieving the goals set for the level. With that being said, it also should be noted that all special attacks are very well balanced so that you won’t be forced to use the same adventurer just for his special attack.
The difficulty of this game will really depend on the player’s motivation to achieve bronze, silver, or goal medals in each challenge. Often getting a bronze will be extremely easy for younger gamers while the goal medals will sometimes prove to be a big challenge to some of the more hardcore gamers out there. This varying degree of difficulty helps allow a wider group of individuals to enjoy the game as well as keeping it difficult enough for any ‘completionist’ or trophy hunter. It should also be said that not all challenges are created equal; playing survival mode will almost always yield a gold medal for even novice players who know how to flail around a controller while some of the remote controlled bomb and frisbee levels will have experienced gamers ready to pull out their hair.
PlayStation Move Heroes has a huge number of levels and adventures for the competitors to traverse. Even though most of the zones in each map will look the same, they look great and offer their own set of puzzles and challenges. Once a completely different map is unlocked, it will become clear that each map has been well thought-out and designed.
While the story might be slightly bland and predictable, if offers some humour and enjoyable moments seeing the different PlayStation duos interact with each other for the first time. This definitely isn’t a game to buy for the story, but given the genre this falls into, it is slightly expected.
PlayStation Move Heroes also features a teamwork mode allowing local players to work together to achieve goals. This co-op experience is very limited however; instead of both players controlling their own 'toon, player two is simply a cursor to collect crystals and power-ups with an occasional heal or bomb attack thrown in. For a game based on three teams against each other, it’s odd that the co-op mode did not somehow include a partner system to allow actual teamwork.
Playing as some of these adventurers with Move for the first time is often extremely simple and user friendly. This is a game that does not need a complex tutorial or guide because most people will be able to pick it up and know just how to control the combatants and their tools. You'll need a PlayStation Move motion controller and either a Navigation or DualShock controller to take part, whereas player two just needs a Move controller for the pointer controls.
The intuitive design of Move really benefits this game while the 1:1 tracking leaves a little to be desired. Often shaking around the controller like crazy will be enough to kill enemies with little actual arm movement, while other times one will appreciate the fine degree of control the Move offers. One specific gripe is the responsiveness of the whip: it's much easier to shake the controller to kill a bad guy than it to try and do actual whip motions.
The graphics and audio are fantastic overall, and seeing Jak and Daxter with the power of the PS3 for the first time is definitely a cool sight to behold. Gameplay and cut scenes alike look great and are extremely smooth and stable. Throw in a catchy soundtrack and amazing voice acting and you have one great looking and sounding package.
Even with all its little changes and variances of game play, PlayStation Move Heroes still feels slightly repetitive at times if played for too long in any given sitting and doesn’t offer much in terms of progression. Each level just feels like another level and not a development of any sort of story or character. The challenges are still fun, and all the slight differences really help keep it from becoming monotonous, but this is still a game to play in moderation. It would have also been interesting to see more character traits implemented because, in all honesty, the developers could have switched out these three popular duos for just about anyone and the game would not have changed much.
The replayablility of this game, much like the difficulty, will depend solely on the gamer’s desire to complete all of the levels with gold medals or find secret items to unlock all the costumes. For gamers who don’t care for things like that, this game is not something to immediately replay due to some of the repetitious gameplay types. There is also an online leaderboard for hardcore gamers to work to climb.
Finally, PlayStation Move Heroes was also released as a PlayStation Network title along side with the disc-based game. The idea of being able to play fresh, full content straight from the PSN via digital download on or around launch day is awesome, and not only was it released on the PlayStation Network, PSN+ members were given the 60 minute trial edition for free as well.
In the end, PlayStation Move Heroes is a decent addition to the PlayStation Move library. There might be a few disappointments for some of the hardcore fans, especially in the multiplayer aspect, but it still offers a great deal of PlayStation Move fun and sets a solid starting point for the genre. It's a shame that the enjoyment it offers diminishes through so much repetition, and although you may find a lot to enjoy in here, we'd recommend a try before you buy.