Sports Champions 2 - PS3 Review
I feel sorry for Sony in many ways... While the PlayStation Move was late to the motion control market (compared to the Nintendo Wii) it has struggled to gain a foothold in the market - that being despite its inclusion in many "hardcore" games, as well as several games built specifically for PSMove. Sony aren't leaving the controller to die though as, along with the release of Wonderbook: Book of Spells this week, Sports Champions 2 looks set to inject some life into the motion control.
|Archery is the highlight of Sports Champions 2.|
The great thing about Sports Champions 2 is that it contains five completely new sports for the franchise including Bowling, Boxing, Skiing, Golf, and Tennis, and updates the best one from the last game - that being Archery. The game includes three main modes; Cup Play is a single player experience with challenges in each of the sports and a maximum 3 Star rating for each challenge, Free Play which allows up to 4 people to play the sports together and Party Play which also allows 4-player but randomises the sports being played. But let's look at each of the sports in depth...
Developed by Zingardi Games (who developed the original Sports Champions) does bring back one sport from the original title - Archery. Fortunately it was probably the best game in the original release, and it's inclusion here has seen some tweaks and adjustments with slightly slicker gameplay and movement, some nicer environments, and a few new challenges. If you have the original game don't worry this isn't a carbon copy and you'll continue to enjoy the sport here.
|Golf is a new sport in Sports Champions 2.|
Bowling is the next game mode which we hit up, and it's another cracking sport in this game - particularly in multiplayer where you each take turns. Sure, we've seen the sport represented on the Nintendo Wii, but I guarantee it has never looked this good, nor been anywhere near as accurate as this game thanks to the super-precision of the PlayStation Move controller. Just as in real-life you can put angle your shot and spin on the ball with the flick of a wrist, change your position in the lane, and determine the pace on the ball by the speed of your swing (just make sure you fix the PSMove controller to your arm with the wrist strap!).
Boxing is yet another new sport for this year’s title and it seems the replacement for the Gladiator Combat sport from the first game. That's a bit of a shame as the boxing matches do seem to be a bit of a slug-fest whereas the Gladiator mode required a bit more skill and timing to block shots. Having said that Boxing really is a great sport to get a workout, but more importantly in 2-player mode it's tremendous fun.
|The family favourite, 10-Pin Bowling.|
Despite providing the biggest laughs when I unexpected pulled off my first triple-backflip, Skiing is probably the mode that is the least enjoyable to play and it's one where you'll definitely want two motion controllers - one for each of the ski poles. Having to crouch down and lean side to side may replicate the sport, but needing to do that for a couple of minutes in a race, even with occasional jumps, becomes somewhat mundane.
To be honest we weren't expecting too much from the tennis game and while it's somewhat disappointing the game doesn’t allow you to move your player around the court, he does get into the right position allowing you to concentrate on taking the shot. With the precision of the Move controller you can angle shots, put spin on them and perform any action as in real life - just watch out for the ceiling fan when you serve (you would think I would have learnt from serving in Volleyball in the previous game!).
|2-player boxing is fun, and tiring!|
Finally we got stuck into Golf which, when you think about it, is perfectly suited to the PlayStation Move controller and yet again the precision impresses with the only difficulty being working out just how much power to put into the swing. Of course this is a much more arcade styled experience then something like Tiger Woods, but it's certainly entertaining with groups of players.
One complaint we had with the original Sports Champions was the lack of character customisation, and this sequel totally reverses that with well over a dozen pre-defined characters to select from, or a complete character customisation tool where you can build your character from scratch and even fit them out with their own gear, much of which unlocks as you complete sections of the main game.
Perhaps our biggest disappointment with this game is the inability to play the title online. Surely the developers could have even created something similar to London 2012 where individual sports such as Archery or Gold could be played separately and the scores compared, while competitive sports such as Skiing or Tennis could be played against each other. As a PlayStation 3 exclusive title Sony should have assisted with developing this side of the game.
|Character customisation is surprisingly deep.|
Looking at other annoyance with Sports Champions 2 (besides those for individual sports mentioned above), the loading becomes quite annoying at times and that is despite plenty of "hidden" caching to the hard drive (I wonder what would happen if the HDD was full?). It would have also been nice to include a couple of the more entertaining sports from the original game besides Archery - perhaps with some enhancements or additions. Gladiator Combat was fun, and the Boxing mode here seems like a step backwards in many respects, while we really miss the Disc (Frisbee) Golf and even Bocce. Still we're glad that Volleyball in particular didn't make a return. In terms of Sports Champions 3 (if one is ever made) we'd love to see sports such as cricket, shooting, and lawn bowls but admittedly it's tough to pick sports applicable to the PSMove controller after the sports covered in the two Sports Champions games.
Visually Sports Champions 2 seems to be improved on the 2010 title with more detail in the sports fields and arenas and a bit more visual flare here and there too. That's not saying this is a visual jaw-dropper for the PS3, but with a solid frame rate that mimic your movements from the controller perfectly you can't complain. If I was to nitpick a little it would be the rather plain menus, but even they are functional enough.
|Skiing, while functional, is the least entertaining sport in Sports Champions 2.|
Sound too gets the job done nicely. While it won't blow you away with any epic musical numbers, or thousands of lines of dialogue everything is in place to make this a solid package sonically. Having said that we did encounter the occasional sound drop-out for a moment on occasion.
It has to be said that for $AU39.95, and if you already have some PlayStation Move controllers, then Sports Champions 2 is definitely worth a look. The six games on offer all play well, and this is a perfect party game. It's out now.
Review By: David Warner
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|GRAPHICS||Never jaw-dropping, but never disappoints either. A solid game visually.||80%|
|SOUND||Again, nothing to write home about, but what's included gets the job done. Infrequent, very minor, dropouts.||72%|
|GAMEPLAY||Archery and Bowling are superb, others are also entertaining. Definately a party game, but decent single player too.||84%|
|VALUE||A decent single player Cup mode, and then party play. No online but at under $AU40 you can't complain about lack of value here.||81%|
|OVERALL||Sports Champions 2 is among the best Playstation Move games with some fantasticly events. Maybe not worth buying the Move controller just to play this game alone, but worth picking up if you have the controllers already.||80%|