Sports Champions Hands-On

We put the PlayStation Move through its paces in Sports Champions' Gladiator Duel mode.

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Sony officially unveiled the PlayStation Move at an event in San Francisco this afternoon, and when the presentation was over, those of us in attendance were invited to check out some of the Move-compatible games. One of those games was Sony's answer to Nintendo's Wii Sports, which currently goes by the working title Sports Champions. It's not yet clear how many different sports will be featured in the game, but those that we know about include golf, archery, bocce ball, table tennis, beach volleyball, and gladiator duel. That last one doesn't necessarily seem like it belongs given that gladiators of this sort haven't been thought of as sportsmen in some time. Regardless, gladiator duel was the sport being shown, and we wasted no time entering the arena armed with a Move controller in each hand.

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We're told that the Gladiator Duel mode will be playable with just one Move controller, but only the dual controller setup was shown at today's event. Calibrating the Move controllers was a quick and easy process that involved pointing one of them directly at the PlayStation Eye and then giving the game some idea of your body shape. This was done by outstretching an arm and then moving it back toward your waist. After a quick onscreen reminder to remain directly in front of the PlayStation Eye camera, we were dropped into the gladiator duel tutorial.

Taking control of the beefy-looking warrior named Kid D was easier than expected. All we had to do was move our right hand to swing his warhammer and, while holding down a button on the left controller, move our left hand to block with his shield. Both were very responsive, and although a few of the five hits we were required to land on our opponent (a young lady by the name of Samba) to progress didn't register the first time, we immediately felt comfortable with the setup and were eager to get into the fight proper.

Because we were using two of the regular Move controllers, there was no analog stick. Our combatant pursued Samba around the arena automatically, and though our opponent was swinging her sword quite regularly, most of her attacks were very easy to block and counter. For much of our two-round fight, all we had to do was perform the same moves that we wanted our character to perform onscreen, but there were a couple of occasions where other inputs were required. After stunning Samba with a couple of successive blows to her head, we were prompted to simultaneously perform an upward motion with both Move controllers to jump up in the air and then land an attack on the way down. Another onscreen prompt that appeared at the end of a short combo had us move our right hand sharply from left to right to perform a powerful combo finisher. Rolling on the ground after being knocked down also appears to involve a simultaneous movement of both controllers.

After defeating Samba, another opponent named Kenji (from a roster of 10 to 12 by the looks of things) entered the arena, but predictably there was a long line of event attendees waiting to play, and so we reluctantly handed our weapons over. Though it hasn't been officially confirmed, Sports Champions seems like an obvious choice for the pack-in game that Sony is promising to ship with PlayStation Move bundles this fall. We look forward to bringing you more information on the game and on everything Move-related in the coming months.

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