Saturday, 18 September 2010

Sports Champions - PS3 Move

Today sees the launch of Sony's motion sensing peripheral, Move. While a handful of games accompany today's hardware launch, most people will undoubtedly focus on Sports Champions - a game from the same mold as Wii Sports Resort.

Sports Champions offers up six events: Disc Golf, Gladiator Duel, Archery, Beach Volleyball, Bocce and Table Tennis. And while this sports showcase only offers half the events that appeared on Nintendo's compilation, you definitely won't feel short-changed.

Archery is first up and it's one of the stand-out events on the disc. Simply point the Move controller at the screen and press the trigger button to send the arrow speeding towards its target. But this event really comes into its own when two Move controllers are in play.

This way, the player has to reach back with one arm to grab an arrow, nock it in the bowstring, then draw back one controller and release the trigger. It's intuitive and precise making the event immense fun to play.

Archery isn't limited to set targets, either. Some bullseyes are in constant motion, while fruit targets and gravity-defying money bags test your dexterity and speed.

Beach Volleyball is another event which is more fun with two controllers. Serves, digs and spikes are easy to pull off and as the game plays at a leisurely pace, rallies are common place. However, as you stand motionless even during the most frantic games, it's easy to feel detached from the on screen action while playing. Still, it's fun but will probably be the least played game out of the collection.

Table Tennis is next up and it is perhaps the most accessible game in the collection. Because Move tracks depth as well as left-to-right movement, the player has to reach in to return shots dropped just over the net.

It's also advantageous to move around pinging shots to all angles to open your opponent up before delivering the killer stroke.

Putting spin on the ball is effortless, while mistakes always seem to be the player's fault, not because of the tech. Give a first time player the controller and they'll pick up the gameplay mechanics instantly.

The same intuitive play is one of the features of Disc Golf. Set in the middle of a woodland retreat, the aim is simply to throw your frisbee towards the target in the fewest throws possible.

Hazards such as trees, shrubs, rocks and stretches of water do their best to impede your progress, but with a flick and a change of trajectory it's possible to pull off spectacular tricks.

Gladiator Duel is the only non sport in the game and takes the player away from the clean-cut comfort of the table tennis gym and idyllic Hawaiian beach volleyball setting and plonks them in the middle of a coliseum to do battle.

Again, while this event controls adequately with one Move controller, two definitely makes the experience more fun. One hand is used to hold your weapon, while the other controller utilises your shield. Blocking your opponent's thrusts before countering with a series of swift attacks is incredibly satisfying.

Prolonged play exposes the events weaknesses, however. Trying to go in for the kill too quickly sometimes results in a series of fresh air swipes. Sadly, even when the player makes contact with their opponent, the attacks can often feel weak.

Still, as a proof of concept, Gladiator Duel succeeds. It's hard not to think of an Oblivion-type adventure with this type of control scheme woven in.

Finally we have Bocce - the wildcard of the bunch. It's a simple variant on petanque, where the aim is to get your ball as close to the pallino - or jack - as possible.

What makes Bocce stand out from the crowd is the various ways you can manipulate the ball. A simple upwards flick lobs it down the play area, but it is also possible to roll it towards the pallino by stooping and gently releasing the trigger. Again, with a simple flick of the wrist, spin can be added. It's a great little game and is perfect to play when you have a few mates round.

Added longevity to the package comes from the game's multiplayer modes, while the single player events have bronze, silver and gold cup competitions to work through.

While all the events offer varying degrees of entertainment, it's the Move controller which is the star of the show. Not only is it incredibly accurate, but the slight pop when returning a ball in table tennis or the rumble which accompanies a bash to your shield in Gladiator Duel gives the player tangible feedback to the on-screen action.

Sports Champions also serves as a great introduction to Move and gives an indication of what Sony's new hardware can do. Definitely the best game in Move's launch line up and a must buy if you plan on picking up Sony's new controller.

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