Sports Champions PS3 Review

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

The Wii had Wii Sports, Xbox 360’s full body motion tracking camera Kinect will have Kinect Sports for its release in November, and the recent launch of Sony’s PlayStation Move for PS3 has Sports Champions, the game I’m reviewing right now. Sports is obviously a popular genre and throw in some motion sensing and you might just have a winner on your hands.

Firstly, Sports Champions is comprised of six sports: there’s archery, sword fighting, table tennis, disc golf, bocce and volleyball. This sporting compilation is one of Sony’s gold beacons for their new motion sensing device and is certain to help shift a few, although I’ve got to wonder why the American’s received the game in their Move Starter Packs, while us lot just get a demo.

Moving on from that slight grumble, Sony obviously wanted a game that would really show off the precision of Move, and Sports Champions does just that. There’s not a single sport in this compilation that doesn’t impress, and what’s more is that they’re all enjoyable in their own way.

Archery is loads of fun, and some of those targets and objects can be very hard to hit if you don't have a steady hand.

Archery has you reaching for arrows with your motion controller, pulling the bow string back by pointing it towards the screen, aiming with moving your arm about and firing off the arrow by letting go of Move’s new T button. Table tennis copies your movements exactly, with the racquet going anywhere that your Move goes and is a good example of the device working in tandem with the PlayStation Eye to know exactly where the controller is in 3D space, given that you can move your racquet up towards the middle net by walking towards the little camera. Gladiator Duel shows how tactical sword fighting can be done with such a precise motion controller, copying your movements exactly and throwing in a shield to protect yourself with, holding down the T button to swap from sword to said shield. Bocce has you attempting to toss a wooden ball as near to a smaller ball as possible with an underhand throwing movement, adding spin with a twist of the wrist. Disc golf meanwhile puts a Frisbee in your hand and it’s basically like golf in getting the Frisbee to the end of the hole in as few shots as possible, doing so by tossing the Frisbee with your arm, altering the height and adding spin where it’s necessary. Finally, the volleyball has you bumping and spiking the ball with your motion controller in a bid to get the ball past your two opponents. Everything works as it should in regards to all of the included sports, impressing with almost every movement that you make and being a real package of fun.

For added fun, three of the games can be played with two Move controllers. Switching between sword and shield in Gladiator Duel is no longer a requirement with an controller in your other hand – you can then defend yourself with your shield and swing your sword independently, which is a lot more fun, and now that I’ve tried it, I would find it hard to go back to the more restrictive solitary controller. Archery with two motion controllers is tougher but still a lot of fun, while Volleyball, like Gladiator Duel, is far superior when you have a couple at hand, moving each arm independently, bumping, blocking and spiking the ball in exactly the direction that you move the controllers. The good thing is that not a single one of the sports requires you to have two Move’s, but trust me, if you only have one you should really think about purchasing more in the future.

Like Wii Sports, many of the games can be played with just the basics, although for players who want some added depth it’s there to bring into play when you feel comfortable with some of the complexities. Each of the games have their own tutorials, allowing you to get to grips with different motions and button presses, I would suggest you to view them and experiment a little before playing each one.

Gladiator Duel bouts can be won by emptied health bars or when a fighter falls out of the ring.

Each sport has three cups to be won in single player, with opponents becoming increasingly tougher. With games like Gladiator Duel, when you eventually unlock the gold cup you’ll need to make use of various tactics to defeat your AI opponents, likewise, archery opponents are lighting quick with releasing their arrows. Playing the champions cup will also unlock challenges for each sport: Gladiator Duel has you hitting highlighted parts of a body, scoring you points and showing off just how accurate Move is when you’re looking to be as precise as a surgeon or, in this case, a butcher, while many of the other challenges have you tossing something or firing at targets. The challenges are a fun single player option and there’s quite a bit of extra content to unlock (characters, costumes, stages and equipment), although, like the two Wii Sports games, Sports Champions is still best enjoyed in multiplayer.

Unlike Wii Sports the game is a little lacking in character, though. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to see a HD motion sports game with sharp and realistic graphics, although the characters are overdone stereotypes and you aren’t even able to create your own. As the game is so much fun, though, this is only a very slight flaw.

Sports Champions is not only a fantastic demonstration of Sony’s new motion controller, but it’s also an immensely enjoyable game. There’s not a single sport present that doesn’t impress with its controls and as a package I can certainly see myself staying with it for the long term. Wii Sports is a lot of fun, but Sports Champions is something else entirely.