If you’re anything like me, then your Move controller is gathering dust beside your PlayStation 3 – the Eye Camera also lying dormant, with its piercing blue LED rarely lighting up the room. After a dearth of decent releases dedicated to Sony’s wand this year, the recent arrival of Sports Champions 2 was therefore most welcome. It’s definitely one of the few games that makes charging up Move worthwhile; we praised the gameplay in our recent review and awarded it a healthy 7.5 score.
After the success of its predecessor a few years back, it was inevitable a sequel was on the cards. Sports Champions 2 had a lot to live up to. It needed to include a diverse range of activities… Check. Decent graphics and sound… Check. Accurate and realistic use of your motion controller… Check. And it needed to be bags of fun to play alone or with others. With every proverbial box ticked, it seemed destined to be a game that we could recommend.
But while the game itself is pretty entertaining and there are enough sports and mini games to keep you happy and get you slightly sweaty, it left me cold and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.
Many of us loved the original game and to this day, Table Tennis, Disc Golf and Archery are still good fun. Archery returns this time round, along with a few new activities but I can’t help but feel a little hard done by. Sure, reaching for a virtual arrow and loading it into your bow feels “right” and it’s great fun taking on all-comers and smashing those moving targets in pursuit of higher scores… but wasn’t I doing that in the original?
And while the new sports (boxing, skiing, tennis, golf and bowling) are good enough to keep you occupied for hours on end, they’re hardly exciting or particularly innovative. Sure, you’ll find yourself having a laugh with a few friends as you seek yet another strike, or swing for that elusive hole in one – but you can’t help but feel you’ve seen it all before. When slugging it out in a boxing match, you’re instantly reminded of the Wii Sports version from a few years ago. While playing a round of golf, Kinect Sports 2 springs to mind, with its full body motion control. And bowling? Well, both these series have also boasted decent bowling games too. Where are the new ideas???
Personally, the highlights for me in Sports Champions 2 are the archery and the tennis – both of which seem to capture the respective sports well. The precision required to smash targets with your arrows under pressure from the AI against strict time limits is great fun, while the ability to work up a decent sweat in tennis as you work towards an epic rally kept me entertained. But frankly I’ve played much the same game of tennis time and time again using a Wiimote!
As you’d expect, Move works extremely well with Sports Champions 2. As with all motion control games, there are occasional issues when your actions may not be picked up, depending on the positioning of your body and whether it obscures the controller but, by and large, it’s all reassuringly accurate. If you have a second Move controller lying about you can use two during the events, which helps add to the realism factor somewhat and is a nice touch. There are plenty of game modes on offer too and difficulties to suit both the novice and the more experienced sportsmen. It’s certainly fun, looks nice and works well… but there’s a real sense of déjà vu while playing.
Like so many new releases these days, the developers really seem to have run out of ideas. These are pretty conventional sports that they’ve brought to the masses; there’s really nothing out of the ordinary here – and certainly nothing that screams out “buy me”. This could have been perfect as some reasonably priced DLC – a nice, inexpensive add-on to supplement your previous purchase. Sadly, even in these straightened times, us consumers are still having to pay out for a full price release rather than downloading the content for a fraction of the cost.
Solo, Sports Champions 2 is fun short term, whereas with a few friends and a few beers it’s well worth a couple of hours of reckless abandon… before you consign those expensive obscenely-shaped peripherals back to your shelf and extinguish the camera’s all-seeing blue eye until the next edition is released.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing Move or Sony. Microsoft is equally guilty of releasing games of either debatable quality or enough variety for its Kinect gizmo. How many dance/sports/fitness games do we really need, afterall?
My wish for the year ahead? I’d like more innovation and more games that offer fresh content. Stop wheeling out those conventional, tried and tested sports, and come up with something new… Now that would be a great Christmas present.