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July 30, 2003
Summer Heat Beach Volleyball - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
4/7/2003AcclaimAcclaim1-4GMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
120KBDolby Pro Logic IIYesYesMediumNo

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Now thats a nice camera angle!
It's somewhat strange that there hasn't been more volleyball games in the past. I'm mean let's face it most gamers are boys, and well, girls are always good to look at. The sport really took off at Bondi Beach during the Sydney 2000 Olympics when it became one of the most watched sports at the entire Olympics. Tecmo pushed the barriers with Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball on the Xbox which not only delivered a respectable volleyball game, but a bloody good perve as well, and let's face it, it's probably the main reason for watching the sport anyway. Acclaim were pretty quiet on their volleyball game until E3 earlier this year, but provides Playstation 2 owners with a respectable alternative to Tecmo's game, albeit slightly less provocative.

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Typical game viewpoint.
Actually playing Acclaim's Summer Heat Beach Volleyball is quite a joy. Using the square, circle and triangle buttons the you can determine if you wish to hit the ball straight back over the net, get your team-mate to hit it over or get them to set up a spike for you to smash back over. Aiming the ball is performed via the analogue stick and is only available for a second or so prior to hitting the ball making timing and determining angles crucial to success. It's quite easy to hit the ball out of court which is nice compared to so many other games that make it virtually impossible - and therefore unrealistic. Of course it's the games multi-player mode that helps make Summer Heat Beach Volleyball a winner and the 4-player mode is terrific fun.

The developers of Summer Heat Beach Volleyball have included over a dozen male and female characters to choose from, each of which has a different power, control, and speed rating. In reality, however, there is very little to distinguish the abilities of each character, and you'll soon be selecting based on their looks rather then abilities, if not from the outset. Any yes, guys before you ask the girls do ermm... jiggle.

The Beach House is an interesting inclusion to the game and acts as the area for over 200 unlockable extras such as the video clips for some of the songs in the game, a trophy cabinet to see which competitions you have completed and more.

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Australia's own Abbey.
If there is one fault with the game it would be the AI of the computer controlled players. It's never bad to the point where you pull your hair out however there are occasions when you wonder why the computer doesn't take a dive or cover the area properly. It's not uncommon for the AI controlled team to leave the corners wide open. Still, playing a game in real-life isn't much different.

Graphically, Summer Heat Beach Volleyball isn't going to win any awards, but it isn't too shabby either. The animations on the players is possibly the most disappoint aspect. At times the characters seem to slow down too much when going for dives etc and their running could have been improves slightly. Still there are many positive aspects to the title. The characters look nice, despite their simplicity, the courts are varied and the sand deforms nicely when you run over it. The replay allows you to control the camera so you can zoom right in on the ermmm.. action.

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Going for the big serve.
One thing that Acclaim has done very well with this title is the selection of licensed music tracks. From Pink to Kylie Minogue this game may be a little on the poppy side (there are grungier tracks), but it works very well considering it's a summer sport. My only real complaint about the music is that the developers have programmed the game to play the more popular commercial tracks too often leaving the lesser known tracks barely heard. The commentary is quite woeful with little said of any interest during the game while the sound effects such as ball noises and player calls are adequate. The game is helped out by the inclusion of support for Dolby Pro Logic II.

Summer Heat Beach Volleyball is a lot more enjoyable then expected. Sure, there's not as much eye candy as in Tecmo's Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball on XBox, but to me this is much better in terms of gamelpay. The game has been released at the lower price point of $69.95 and is well worth a look.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSClean graphics, a nice interface while animations could be improved.
81%
SOUNDGood selection of music tracks, nice sound effects, poor commentary.
83%
GAMEPLAYIt takes a little to get used to controls but the rallies are terrific.
76%
VALUEThere are plenty of extras to unlock which will take some time.
62%
OVERALLSummer Heat Beach Volleyball is a quite impressive title. The gameplay mechanics are functional, the music nice (although main tracks play too often) and the graphics more then adequate. The AI sometimes lets the game down but overall this is an impressive title worth adding to your collection, especially at $69.95.
77%

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