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PlayStation Move game review: Sports Champions

AT A GLANCE
  • Fantastic showcase for Move
  • Genuinely deep, 'proper' gameplay
  • Gladiator Duel and Archery are Lord of the Rings wish-fulfillment
  • Multiple controllers needed to get the best out of it
  • The presentation is fairly unlikeable
  • Volleyball falls fairly flat

This is it. The game that will convince you of PlayStation Move’s real potential. Yes, it’s a sports mini-game compilation comprising a bunch of unconnected motion-controlled events, but to pass it off as Wii Sports HD would be like saying that BioShock is just Doom with better graphics. The fidelity and depth of control on show here really is that impressive.

You’ll notice it immediately in almost any event you pick up. In fact you’ll spend the first few minutes of that event not actually playing at all. You’ll be too busy twisting, turning and waving whatever sports-based implement is currently at virtual hand in order to marvel at its totally accurate, totally consistent imitation of it real-world puppet master.

None of that would mean a thing of course, if Sports Champions didn’t react to those movements with complimentary finesse. But where all too many Wii games simply translate rough gestures into two or three pre-canned animations, Sports Champions evokes a very real sense of a physical world reacting to your actions. There’s still a little smoke-and-mirrors streamlining to make things friendlier and cooler, but if there wasn’t, you might as well be doing the real sport rather than playing a video game.

Table Tennis shots can be placed quickly and cleanly anywhere you want them on the table, using nothing more than pure instinct and some knowledge of real-world physics. The Frisbees of Disc Golf launch into the air with a million different trajectories and flight paths depending on the angle, strength and point of-release of your throw. And although requiring some trickier mastery of fake 3D space, the ball-tossing Bocce provides a huge amount of variation by accurately reading the pitch and spin of your throws every time. Only Volleyball really fails in the fun stakes, its use of automated character movement reducing your input to simply hitting the right kind of shot at the right time, giving things an uncomfortable QTE feel at times.

But the ones you really want to know about are the sword fighting and archery, aren’t they? Go on, you can admit it. We went straight to them as soon as we fired the disc up. 

Basically, they’re fantastic. With every directed sweep of your digi-blade and every angling of your shield tightly replicated, Gladiator Duel is a far deeper and more tactical game than you’d maybe expect. It’s all about carefully picking your moment and parrying your opponent’s attacks, while eyeing them up for defensive chinks. Once you spot a gap, you can nail it with a carefully-placed blow and follow up with a totally free-form combo, even finishing off with special moves if you’ve charged up your power meter along the way. Essentially, it’s like being in Soul Calibur, and as such, it’s an absolute hoot.

And although packing less variety or brutal hardcore appeal, Archery is still a boatload of fun. The idea of miming every action, from the pulling of the arrow and the notching of it on the bow, to the pull and release of the string, sounds frankly ridiculous, but in practice it's an insanely immersive experience, and one of the game’s crowning moments of badassery once you start pulling rapid reload-and-fire chains, Legolas-style.

Downsides? The presentation is, on the whole, a load of unappealing, soulless arse, with a bright, shiny, but sterile feel reminiscent of PlayStation Home. And you’ll have to overlook the fact that all of the playable characters are either musclebound knuckle-heads or flagrantly lazy racial stereotypes, the likes of which would cause the casts of both Gears of War and Street Fighter some serious palm-related facial bruising.

There’s also a lack of any real sense of progression. One of Wii Sports’ smartest ideas was its ambient levelling system, but with no such mechanism here, you’ll be stuck with repeatedly hammering your way through bland AI opponents in fairly repetitive tournaments if you want any sense of single-player achievement. And it goes without saying, with Gladiator Duel and Archery both far more enjoyable when using two Move controllers (though they’re certainly playable with just one), you’ll be looking at quite a bit of expense if you want to access the full fun held on Sports Champions’ shiny disc.

That said though, there is quite a bit of it.

More Info

Available Platforms: PS3
Genre: Sports

Topics

Sony

14 comments

  • FauxFurry - September 10, 2010 10:07 p.m.

    It looks as if Nintendo is going to have to move on to the next gimmicky innovation(mo-cap suit controllers?) or,for added fun,build on the PS3 for their next generation of game systems,possibly giving the owners of Wii consoles a substantial discount to upgrade. That or get used to the idea of becoming a third party developer like their former rivals at Sega,that is,if most Wii owners care enough about games to make the switch to a more expensive,more complex system (without a Mario or Zelda game in sight...yet)and if motion controlled gaming is really the wave that Gaming continues to ride into the future. I can't see any valid reason to buy No More Heroes on the Wii if it's coming to the PS3 with better motion controls outside of convenience of the Wii's nigh omnipresence.That just goes to show that omnipresence without anything close to omnipotence doesn't go for a whole lot. I might have to try to pick up a PS3 during some holiday sale. Nintendo may have just given one of its worst enemies which it created yet another weapon to dual-wield against them if these reviews are as accurate as the controls are said to be. Still,no Miis or 'Homies' in the game or customizable characters sounds like a deal-breaker for me!
  • DryvBy - September 10, 2010 5 p.m.

    I bought my controllers, but I'm waiting for a price drop on this. I'm pre-ordered NBA 2K11 until then. I have some games to test out when it comes out so I'm good. Hopefully, MAG gets patched with Move.
  • TheCakeIsaPie - September 9, 2010 9:48 p.m.

    But does it blend?
  • Gable - September 9, 2010 9:39 p.m.

    You can't compare with a game five years older.
  • rav3 - September 9, 2010 8:23 p.m.

    well i was gonna buy a ps move until i saw the price in mexico 240 dlls for two move controllers (wands not the little nunchuck thing) No thanks. Even kinect is priced cheaper in here.
  • NightCrawler_358 - September 9, 2010 8:12 p.m.

    Okay this is looking good for Move. could somebody tell me if this is better than wii, because if its the same, shame on Sony...
  • ViolentLee - September 9, 2010 7:57 p.m.

    Yes, it sounds fun. But I do not need to spend well over $100 for a fun game, when I have plenty of fun games shrink-wrapped at home already, or available for a fraction of the price at the store. You can really only get so much enjoyment/longevity out of stale motion-controlled minigame collections, and I didn't get my money's worth out of Wii Sports Resort, Wii Fit, Fit Plus, etc.
  • TheWebSwinger - September 9, 2010 7:02 p.m.

    There we go, finally reviewing the GOOD move games. Now, when's Kinect come out, again?
  • AdonisX82 - September 9, 2010 6:23 p.m.

    My question, as far as the gladiator game is concearned, is does it account for weopon weight. would seem silly if one could wave a tho handed battle axe around quickly like it only weighed two pounds
  • TizzleSniper - September 9, 2010 5:49 p.m.

    every other review of this game ive read (2 or 3) has been that of mediocrity. ive read that the calibration issue (before each round you have to recalibrate) is frustrating, the table tennis is gimmicky at best. and the sword fightings hit detection is complete shit. and that your more likely to win just by waving your arms really fast than actually having a strategy. im not sure if you played this with anyone else, or alone. but in 2 of the reviews ive read they focused on the multiplayer (because thats what this is, a shotty Wii Sports rip off party game) which in that instance it was bad. maybe the accuracy and hit detection get better when playing alone. or maybe you guys just didn't care and were more happy blindly flailing your arms around.
  • StrayGator - September 9, 2010 5:14 p.m.

    Ah'm sorry, but Doom > Bioshock.
  • sklorbit - September 9, 2010 4:49 p.m.

    still dont see how move is different than wii... oh well, wii doesnt have killzone 3 so ya.
  • oufour - September 9, 2010 4:43 p.m.

    asshole. anyway this does actually look a little fun, like how the boxing mini game in wii sports was the best one, except several games in this one look good.
  • croatianmaniac232 - September 9, 2010 4:42 p.m.

    First.

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