Sports Champions 2 PS3 Review

Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe – Developer – Zindagi Games – Genre – Sports – Players – 1-4 – Age Rating – 12+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

In spite of Sports Champions being a launch title for the PlayStation Move device, it still remains as one the best examples of just what the controller can do, proving that, provided that the time and effort is put in by the developer, Move can be a seriously impressive take on motion control.

The game has finally received a sequel, simply titled Sports Champions 2. This time around the more eccentric mixture of events of Bocce, Disc Golf and Gladiator Duel are out and replaced by more well known sports: there’s Bowling, Boxing, Skiing, Golf and Tennis on offer, whilst Archery, of which was considered as one of the better games in the original collection, has been retained and improved up on. The slightly laborious calibration from the previous game has been significantly scaled down too, allowing you to get into each game quicker and more smoothly.

Up on initially starting Sports Champions 2 you are introduced to a welcome new feature: character customisation. This is pleasantly extensive with a wide range of hairstyles, facial hair and clothing to personalize your character with, whilst you’re rewarded with further options by playing the single player. You’re able to craft some inhuman looking avatars, though the game is still lacking the character of Wii Sports and Kinect Sports, which can make it feel a bit soulless in its presentation from time to time.

Bowling is one of the less taxing options for Move and really doesn’t offer much of an advancement over what we first experienced in Wii Sports back in 2006, though due to the additional precision of Sony’s controller, spin is significantly easier to achieve.

Boxing on the other hand is one of the stronger sports in the game, allowing you to easily throw high and low punches, whilst painful power punches can be delivered by holding Move back and then thrusting it forward. Like some of the other featured sports, the boxing is at its best when using a duo of Move controllers. The relatively sluggish pace proves to be a good decision on developer Zindagi Games’ part, allowing for bouts that encourage more sedate and strategic play ahead of the random flailing of Wii Sports.

Skiing is one of the less exciting sports, which isn’t to say that it’s bad by any means. It has you racing against your opponents and you turn with tilts of the Move controller/s. You’re also able to jump and, whilst in the air, you’re required to adjust the angle of Move in the hope of a smooth landing. This also benefits from the use of two Moves for a more authentic experience.

Archery functions much the same as the original game, though it didn’t really need much in the way of attention on a mechanical level, as it was without doubt already one of the standout sports first time around, and remains so here. Much like the original game, it’s a tougher and in turn, more satisfying game with two Move controllers.

Golf and Tennis allow you to execute all manner of lobs, slices and such by swinging Move in a similar fashion to how you’d swing a real tennis racket or golf club. Tennis brings to mind the excellent Table Tennis of the original game, whilst the golf works proficiently, though it’s somewhat disappointing that there’s no 18 hole courses to play, whilst, when it comes to putting, some might well find it a bit too forgiving of their mistakes.

In single player terms, like the first game there’s a sizable tournament mode, which sees you taking on increasingly tougher opponents in each discipline. Earlier opponents are once again effortless to beat, though later opponents are impressively, but frustratingly masterful at the sports.

As substantial as the single player portion is, multiplayer however is unquestionably where the focus lies is and this is supported with an all new Party Play mode that sees players taking on each other in a tournament, which has you playing random sports over a certain amount of rounds and along the way gathering points, the amount of which being determined by how well you play. The ultimate winner up on completing all rounds will get the chance to draw on the loser’s photo, if they’re really that cruel.

Sports Champions 2 doesn’t bring anything new over what other sports compilations offer, nor does it have the level of personality that its contemporaries do. Move really shines with its precision in every featured sport however, to the point that, much like the original game, this sequel acts as easily one of the best demonstrations of the impressive capabilities of Sony’s motion sensing, as well as being a game that has enough depth and reliance on skill to sustain long term play for the more serious minded of players.