The Playstation Move’s highest selling game looks like Wii Sports in HD. But is there more than meets the Playstation Eye?
On paper Sports Champions doesn’t exactly jump off the page. It’s a third party game designed for a new motion peripheral with a title that does nothing to distinguish it from the mob of shovel-ware games we’ve all learned to avoid. However Sports Champions is an impressive showcase of the Playstation Move’s technology with six sports games that are fun to play with friends or on your own. Which sports you enjoy the most depends more on your real life preference than game mechanics as, for the most part, each sport is replicated accurately with realistic controls and physics.
Though the word “sport” is stretched to breaking point, there are six of them on offer here; table tennis, gladiator duel, archery, disk-golf , volleyball and bocce – a variant of boules. Each of these has a single player progression over three cups; bronze, silver and gold. Difficulty is measured by the amount of aid the game gives you rather than simply throwing tougher opponents at you. This means that on harder difficulties the fidelity of the on-screen physics is more accurate – though that doesn’t necessarily mean more fun. Each of the games can be played with friends too, with every user choosing their own difficulty from the off, allowing players of various skill levels to compete. This is something Wii Sports severely lacked whenever played with a mix of people, though similarly there is no option to take Sports Champions online.
Table tennis works as expected but with a degree of realism and accuracy that makes it hilariously tough on harder difficulties. Disk-golf is basically frisbee throwing at a distant target which is great fun with a few friends. Gladiator Duel is far more enjoyable when played with a second Move controller allowing you to use one hand to hold your shield and the other to swipe at your opponent. Blocking high, low, left and right while retaliating with wild swipes and shield-barges is wonderfully satisfying. Bocce showcases the superiority of the Move controller over it’s Wii counterpart as you throw balls underarm, overarm with any spin or angle you desire. Archery is most fun in multiplayer or on tougher difficulties, and volleyball has it’s moments.
Each game has a training mode that surfaces periodically as you play more games at get more comfortable. Scattering these allows you to get to grips with some of the more complicated game modes, though with the exception of the frankly messy volleyball, the games controls are natural and easy to learn.
Sports Champions doesn’t look or feel like your dime-a-dozen party game either. Player models and animations look great, environments are generally well put together and the menu system is clean and simple to navigate. Really the entire package is very well produced and full of nice touches. Upon completing a cup you’re asked to pose in front of camera while an object (such as a racket, shield or ball) is projected on top of the Move controller. You can then publish this nonsense to Facebook with pride.
Sports Champions is a great package and for the price of £30 there is quite a lot of game here too. Ultimately you’ll enjoy the game more when played with friends, but the single player has enough going on to keep you amused for a few hours. Sports Champions is a great example of how the Playstation Move controller can add real depth and gameplay innovation to familiar game. If you’ve bought a Playstation Move, this really is a must-have. If you haven’t yet, Sports Champion is a convincing argument for why you should.