Dust of your balls folks because the sequel to one of the best Move games is back. At the peak of PlayStation Move’s popularity, Sports Champions kept families and friends entertained and managed to showcase the motion-sensing technology quite superbly with its series of responsive mini-games.
With such positive critical acclaim, it was inevitable that San Diego Studio and Zindagi Games would team up again to deliver a fresh set of wand-waggling sports, and predictably Sports Champions 2 proves once again to be a good reason to get friends together for some competitive multiplayer action.
Whether you actually get something out of Sports Champions for this second iteration is really going to depend on your attitude towards Move at this particular time (if you’re fed up to the back teeth with motion-sensing sports games, or if you’re still well up for another bout of physical competition with your pals over the festive period). The good news for those in the latter camp is that Sports Champions 2 is just as addictive as the original.
Sports Champions 2 features six mini-games: Skiing, Golf, Boxing, Archery, Bowling and Tennis. Like any title with a set of mini-games, you’ll soon find your favourite sports and probably stick with them. We soon discovered, for example, that skiing is simply not for us. Though PS Move responds accurately to the movements of the controller, there’s absolutely no need to crouch down and grip Move to your chest as if you’re really skiing down the piste. You can simply stand up as normal and tilt the Move controllers left and right to get the same effect. Overall, it just lacks the thrills, action and satisfaction that some of the other sports provide.
Tennis on the other hand is one of those mini-games where action is at the heart of the experience. You do actually find yourself moving the controller as if holding a tennis racket and it feels intuitive to smash the ball across court or tap it over the net. The precision of Move is impressive and when we were engaged in a long rally and got that winning point we often found ourselves punching our fist in the air. This is really what a good sports game should do; make you feel a sense of achievement and tap into your competitive spirit.
Boxing has very much the same effect, putting you in that competitive frame of mind, and it’s incredible how simply throwing your fists around can drain your stamina and build up a sweat. Once again Move responds well to your punches, providing you don’t try and punch with the insane speeds of Rocky Balboa, and chaining together combos and downing your opponent soon becomes another reason to celebrate.
Bowling too is intuitive to play and thanks to slick Move implementation it does feel like you’re in complete control of the ball as you send it hurling towards the pins, while getting a strike is one of the most satisfying moments in any of the games on offer. Though Golf and Archery don’t quite make the adrenaline flow like those three sports, it’s ultimately gratifying to sink a putt under par or hit the bullseye right when it really matters.
Move once again performs very well in Golf, taking into account the speed of your swing accurately, while the courses are very easy on the eye making it a nice leisurely way to spend a few hours. Finally, Archery makes a welcome return from the last game and the mechanics are practically the same. When you use two controllers, as if holding a bow, you do feel like you’re in total control of where the arrow lands, and the concentration you need to put into each shot prior to letting the projectile go adds a bit of tension, which is really what you want from a competitive sport.
Aside from playing against the A.I. in Cup Play and Free Play mode, where you can pick and choose your favourite sports, there’s a wide variety of arcade events which provide plenty of replay value. In particular, we like the Archery events such as Shooting Gallery, where you need to hit different types of bullseyes such as balloons, and also the new mode, Rally, which tasks you with being quick and accurate as you try to shoot down a cube that is being juggled by the archers. These side distractions provide plenty of fun outside of the traditional challenges, yet still have that competitive element.
The new Party Mode is an excellent addition that makes multiplayer gaming easier to manage than the previous game, allowing players to completely customise up to nine rounds of sports for a competitive match-up. Luckily, the developer has also ensured that the whole set-up process is easier too when playing with friends. Gone is the action-delaying three-point calibration set-up, and now players can just dive straight into the six mini-games.
Considering that it’s the multiplayer and social aspect of Sports Champions 2 that appeals the most, the lack of online multiplayer is once again disappointing. Nevertheless, four players can gather around the screen and partake in a wide range of challenges and the online leaderboards and Facebook connectivity means that you can boast about your achievements to others by taking an augmented reality photo and play the game solo in a bid to rise up the online ranks.
Individual stat-tracking for multiple profiles gives all players the chance to see how they’re progressing in the game, while individual character customisation adds a new layer of depth for those who get a kick of dressing up their avatars. It goes deeper than just making your character look pretty too, with unlockables to gain along the way too allowing you to also customise equipment and accessories, and the ability to tweak sounds and animation in game to give a personal feel.
Overall, Sports Champions 2 is on a par with the original in terms of entertainment and the smooth implementation of Move is impressive. Though we’d still like to have seen a wider range of sports – and are generally confused by the inclusion of Skiing – there’s enough content here to keep you entertained and busy. If you’re a Move owner, you should get good value for money with Sport Champions 2 over the Christmas period as its appeal really lies in getting together with a group of friends and engaging in some fun competitive activities.