Reviewed by Matt Adcock
The era of Wii Sports comes to an abrupt, high-definition halt as Sony bring their ‘A’ game to the PlayStation 3 with their innovative MOVE controllers. Sports Champions brings six games: Archery, Beach Volleyball, Bocce, Disc Golf, Gladiator Duel, and Table Tennis to the package – which leaves plenty more to come and means that you can bet that there will be a Sports Champions 2 before too long…
Setting up the PlayStation Move is easy and – you stand in the designated area, calibrate the Move controller with a quick routine which goes shoulder, leg and waist (and soon becomes second nature). From then on you’re good to go and this time you are going to need all your reactions, skills and hand / eye coordination – no amount of arm flapping randomness will help you in Sports Champions.
Let’s look at each sport in my order of preference –
"Katy Perry takes on Britney in mortal combat"
Gladiator Duel is brutal combat fun like nothing before, you can use either one PlayStation Move controller or two (but two is better as it feels more natural to wield both your shield and sword in each hand). From the second you step into the ring – as your chosen character (from a roster of players which looks like a sportified Street Fighter selection, with fast nimble chics with swords, heavy set rugby player types with hammers etc), your pulse begins to race as you realise that this is it – no pussying out now. You can dodge left and right with the move buttons, pull the trigger to raise your shield, power up special attacks, leap backwards, thrust, duck, slash, bash (with shield) and of course stab the living daylights out of your opponent in real time 1:1 awesomeness. It is slick and very very satisfying chopping chunks off your opponent’s health bar – two player bouts can get heated, and need some space! Quick thinking combatants can even ‘ring out’ your opponent or just be left with more health when the timer ticks down. It’s seriously addictive and all kinds of awesome,, one can only speculate at how superb this sort of control could be implemented into the next Elder Scrolls game – Bethesda are you listening!?! Which brings me to the next Sports Champions game – Archery (also a RPG staple form of attack).
Ever wanted to test your sharp shooting skills in your lounge? Robin Hood himself would be forgetting to go out and rob the rich if he’d had Sports Champions Archery to play as this is amazing. Shooting a series of targets, be they robotic zombies shuffling towards you, bags of money being tossed into the air or your more usual round targets with scoring zones. Playing this two PlayStation Move controllers is an absolute joy - reach over your shoulder to pull an arrow from your quiver, then draw the two apart like the bow and string. You’ll quickly pick up the basics but find tons of depth as you perfect your technique and pull off faster, more accurate shots. There are some great modes too try in multiplayer as well such as shooting rolling targets towards each other in an inverse tug of war… This is a show stopping title that will have Wii owners going green with envy.
This is another cracking Sports Champions event for PlayStation Move. If you’ve ever had a laugh playing ping pong, this demonstrates just how far the Move takes racquet sports (and whets the appetite for the coming Virtua Tennis 4). You hold the PlayStation Move controller exactly as you would a table tennis bat, twist your wrist to add spin, leap up to smash – it’s all good. It isn’t easy – as anyone who has tried the real table tennis knows that this isn’t merely a hit it as hard as you can game – but subtle art and high skills are called for. Two player mode is superb, and the tension of a long hard fought rally can be intense.
If you want real golf you can use Move with Tiger Woods PGS Tour 11, but in Sports Champions you get a crazy but fun version of golf where you throw Frisbees down a course – drive from the tee with a heavy long distance disk, chip onto the green with a mid weight ‘iron equivalent’ and then putt for the hole with your accurate short distance disc. It might sound a bit naff but it plays really well and could reignite a Frisbee craze. The discs fly as you’d want them to, arcing depending on how you tilt them – from left or right, up or down. Once you get the hang of this, you’ll find it incredibly hard to stop, and the satisfaction of pulling off an amazing recovery shot out of the rough is every as satisfying as when doing it with a club and ball. Sony must be high-fiving around the 19th hole because this makes the Frisbee event in Wii Sports Resort look very poor in comparison.
If you’ve played boules, or lawn bowls then you’ll know what to expect. Throw the jack (the PlayStation Move controller gives you a great deal of control over your throw - with easy to add so that you can place your balls wherever you fancy). Then try and get your main game balls as near to the jack as possible – blasting your opponents out of the way in the process if you can. The more balls you have nearer than your opponent, the more points you score. It isn’t the most exciting game on the planet but it looks good and plays well.
Volleyball on Sports Champions is probably the least fun, unless perhaps you wear a bikini and film yourself playing it!? You know the drill, throw the bouncy ball up to serve, block, smash and pass your way to victory. Repeat… It works well enough but probably won’t be the event that you come back to as much as the others.
The PlayStation Move gets off to a quality start with Sports Champions and as the inferior Wii Sports has sold millions worldwide, if there is any justice or gamers with taste then this should too. Excellent gameplay, top notch HD graphics and seamless quality multiplayer challenges coupled with addictive gameplay make this a true champion amongst sports games.
Darkmatters rating: ööööööööö (9 glorious sporting victories out of 10)