Sports Champions 2 Review
For me, the first Sports Champions is still the go-to game for the PlayStation Move. Sorcery was good but it didn’t really have me coming back for more after finishing it; on the other hand, there were times when I’d pop in Sports Champions to see if I could top my best scores. That’s why I was interested to check out the sequel, which boasts more events and a slightly sharper presentation. It’s not a huge leap forward but it’s still great fun, and that's what counts.
There isn’t anything too special about the graphics, although I think a few of the environments and character detailing is a little sharper in comparison to the original. There’s always plenty of vibrant color and the effects are nifty, too. Sometimes you can spot a few inconsistencies and glitches when the camera goes wonky, but that’s to be expected and it doesn’t really affect your overall entertainment. I’d still like to see more in the way of general polish and refinement, though; Move productions often seem to be on the lower end of the PS3 visual spectrum.
The audio is in much the same category as the graphics: Solid without being 100% stable and capable of enhancing a relatively straightforward game. Each sport has its own assortment of effects and other small ambient sounds, and the soundtrack is light and airy. I believe a few of the events could’ve used a bigger kick in the ass from the music but that isn’t a huge complaint. All in all, the technical elements in Sports Champions 2 are worthy of mild praise but one fact is abundantly clear: As you might expect, this is all about the gameplay and your interaction with the precise Move controller, which always takes center-stage.
I’m going to start with my personal favorite sport— Tennis. I was so glad Zindagi added this because I love the idea of using the Move as a racket and let’s face it, tennis is brutally cardiovascular. The only problem is that tennis seems a tad erratic. When it works, it’s actually fantastic and you can easily work up a sweat. However, sometimes the Eye can’t keep up with a particularly frantic movement, so if I feel like uncorking on a forehand, there are times when the result will be disappointing because my virtual player totally screws it up. And that’s bad in tennis.
Still, I sort of got used to it and after readjusting the position of the Eye (I set it higher) and tempering my movements a little, I got pretty good. This worked out better than Table Tennis in the first Sports Champions, which I found to be mostly broken. In the sequel, skiing takes the place of ping-pong as the ugly duckling of the group; it feels just plain weird and seems to lack fluidity and intuitiveness. I can’t ski for beans in the first place, though, so that might’ve contributed to my inability to perform well…but I kinda doubt it. It just feels technically flawed.
But beyond that, most events deliver what they promise. I was a pretty damn good marksman at one point in time, so I always gravitate towards archery and that rarely skips a beat in Sports Champions 2. You need a steady hand and slowed breathing to impress your buddies, but it’s plenty rewarding if you can nail all the targets. As for golf, it works just fine, and it even feels quite realistic in some respects. Oddly enough, this requires as much of a steady hand and a relaxed approach; the Move’s extreme sensitivity makes it all too easy to overshoot the green - or whatever your targeted location is - when swinging a golf club.
Then there’s bowling, which is undoubtedly precise and lots of fun, and although Zindagi eliminated Gladiator, they replaced it with something similar: Boxing. The latter could be the deepest and most physically demanding event in the game, and for whatever reason, in contrast to Tennis, the Eye seems to keep up with all your movements just fine. It’s possible that the sweeping motion of a groundstroke can’t quite fit in the scope of the camera, while the majority of punches are shorter and don’t cover such a wide arc. Whatever the reason, boxing seems to work extremely well and it’s a great way to vent!
Obviously, this game is meant to be enjoyed with a friend. In fact, it’s ideal to have a group of willing comrades so you can have a bit of hot-seat fun. The only downside is that there is no online play, which I personally don’t mind as much because I put a lot of stock in side-by-side competition. That goes double when it comes to something like sports titles, where half the thrill comes from going toe-to-toe with someone who is in the same room. And if you’d like to play on your own, Cup Play is always an option, and this ups the replay rating considerably. In short, there are plenty of reasons for Move owners to pick up Sports Champions 2.
Between Free Play and Party Play, multiplayer is definitely where it’s at, so I would suggest getting some friends over for an active, entertaining party. Up to four players can get involved in the on-screen entertainment; just remember that you need multiple Move controllers for that to work. There’s really nothing more invigorating than going at it in boxing or playing a surprisingly relaxing and enjoyable round of golf. That’s the other cool part about this sequel: There is an excellent variety of sports, so you can really shake things up. Need a break after tennis? Try your hand at some archery. No need to stop playing.
The Move is in dire need of AAA software and although I can’t say Sports Champions 2 qualifies, it’s definitely a must for Move owners who enjoy being active while indoors. The mechanics aren’t always perfect, the technical elements are mostly just functional (with the exception of a few nice touches), and skiing just doesn’t work correctly. But at the same time, there’s great diversity in the available sports, the majority are reliable and invigorating, and there’s ample reason to play solo or with others. This could result in endless fun at your next party, as there’s a little something for everyone and the accessibility is high. Have a good time!
The Good: Nice variety of sports greatly enhances longevity. Mostly responsive and reliable Move functionality. Pleasant overall presentation. Keeps you active and involved. Great fun for either solo or multiplayer entertainment (still best played with friends).
The Bad: Not overly impressive technical elements. Eye can lose super quick movements. Skiing is just weird and doesn’t really work well enough.
The Ugly: “That was a fu*^&$( forehand winner! Catch it next time, damn you!”
11/6/2012 Ben Dutka