Review of Sports Champions for Playstation Move
Reviewed by PS3Fitness.com on September 26, 2010.
Summary: A phenomenal launch title that showcases the potential of the Playstation Move for active gaming.
Remember when the Wii first came out, and you played Wii Sports Tennis until your arms were sore, and played Wii Sports Boxing until you were dripping in perspiration? In that sense, Wii Sports was the first “exergame” for the Wii.
I’m happy to say that Sports Champions for Sony Move is the same for the Playstation Move. It’s not a pure “exercise game”, but of the six sports it offers at least two or three will get you moving and your heart even pumping.
Sports Champions can either be purchased separately or bundled with the Playstation Eye and Move Controller.
Before you start up the game, the system will calibrate the Move controller. You’ll see an image of your room on the screen, and you need to stand within a box throughout gameplay. The system will ask you to move your controller to your shoulders, to your side, and to your beltline.
There are six sports to choose from. With each, you can select a tutorial (highly recommended) that talks you through the intricacies of each game. I’ll focus on the games that you’ll find yourself sweating to:
Gladiator Duel: This is a game where you can choose to use one or two Move controllers. It’s a heck of a lot more fun with two, as you can hold your sword in one hand and your shield in the other and control them independently (with one controller, you have to choose either the sword or the shield by pressing and holding the trigger button). Each time you block a move, it’ll fill up a power meter that’ll let you perform a combo attack. Again, the realism is phenomenal. As you fight your opponents, you’ll see damage caused to their shelds and the surrounding arena (don’t worry though, it’s still rated E for everyone–the actions are pretty violent, but there’s no blood or guts or anything like that). You’ll get a great full body workout from this one as you swing in all directions with your sword one hand and bump your opponent with the shield in the other.
Table Tennis: I love playing ping-pong in real life, and I enjoyed playing it on Wii Sports Resort with the MotionPlus. But while playing it on the Wii was a lot of fun, I found that it wasn’t the most realistic nor accurate game. I could easily beat the system by making exagerrated movements that didn’t reflect real life, and the on-screen paddle didn’t always mirror my real-life movements. With the Sony Move, you move the controller in your hand, and you see the same movement on screen. You can use real-life movements to add topspin, backspin, and sidespin. The game starts out easy enough, but by the time you advance to higher levels you’ll be working hard to beat your opponents. While the game itself isn’t too much of a workout, trying over and over again to beat the next toughest opponent is great motivation for you to work for an hour or more.
Beach Volleyball: Unlike the similar activity on EA Sports Active, this plays like actual volleyball. You have the option of using one or two Move controllers. The attention to detail is impressive. The system will move your player around the court, but for your part you have to us timing and technique to serve (underhand or overhand), bump, set, spike, and dive. The tutorial is highly recommended, as you can learn how advanced techniques like tipping and group blocking. Again, attention to detail is great with the blue ocean and the sound of the waves in the background. Again, as you master the basics and move on to more advanced levels you’ll get a great workout.
The other three sports won’t give you too much of a workout, but they’re great for showing off the capabilities of the Move.
Disc Golf: Here, you compete against each other or the CPU throwing a frisbee on a golf course trying to get to the target. The scenery is breathtaking. You’ll stand on mountaintops, contend with lush forests, and more. Like a real frisbee, you can throw with as much or as little force as you need. You pick up the frisbee by holding the “T” button, and when you release the button it releases the frisbee. The controls are remarkably accurate, although it will take getting used to throwing without having the resistance of a real frisbee.
Archery: This is a game where I’d say you need two Move controllers, so you can use one hand to hold the bow and the other to draw the arrow back (similar to Wii Sports Resort). With one Move controller, you’re basically pointing and shooting, which is hardly realistic. Again, graphics are great–you feel like you’re in the middle of Sherwood Forest.
Bocce: If you don’t know what Bocce is, think of the last time you watched Olympic curling. The rules are very similar. You throw a small ball (called a jacK or a pallino) to set the target. Then, two players (or teams) compete to see who can throw their larger cannonball-sized balls closest to the jack (knocking opponent’s balls away is possible). The game has been around since ancient times. The realism on the game is astounding. You can play on different surfaces (on soil, on a pier, or on asphalt), and the balls react accordingly. To throw the ball, you hold down the Trigger and throw using an underarm motion just like you would the real thing. Letting go of the trigger releases the ball. By adjusting your wrist motion, you can even add spin to the ball.
The details of the game are amazing, and the game developers have a great sense of humor (One of the trophies you earn after playing Bocce is called “I Have Heard of Bocce”. And there’s a neat surprise waiting for you after you win your first Bronze Cup in the different events–I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice it to say it’s a nice look into the “augmented reality” that the Move is ushering in).
Games have levels of beginner, intermediate, and advanced. But unlike other games, playing on the beginner level is definitely challenging and satisfying. Unlike other video games, the controls themselves are not “dumbed down” at beginner levels. Rather, the controls are the same at every level–it’s just that at the beginner level you get more visual “hints” on how to perform your best and the opponents skills are also at a beginner level. So the game won’t get old quickly, because as soon as you master the techniques and dominate at the beginner levels, you get to move on to stronger and stronger opponents and the visual hints start disappearing as you no longer need them.
You might notice the word I keep repeating is “realism”. One thing I appreciate is that Sony didn’t just ape the Wii by copying its cartoony look and feel. Instead, the graphics are photorealistic and really show off the advanced graphics capabilities of the PS3. And while I was initially blown away by the “coolness” factor of the Move Controller, I quickly forgot about that as I immersed myself into actually playing the game–which is a good sign that Sony did its job. None of the games are exactly like the real thing, of course, but they all come closer than any other video game experience before.
It’s a great first effort for Sony. Hopefully it’ll be a good foundation on which other game developers will create new, precise, and fun interactive workout titles.