Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Sports Champions

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Electronic Theatre Image             With Start the Party! providing Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) with their equivalent of Wii Play, Sports Champions is quite obviously designed to fill the shoes of Wii Sports. Taking this into account before commencing play in Sports Champions will highlight many of the differences between Nintendo and Sony’s approach to motion-controller packaging, most immediately in that of the aesthetic quality, but also in the depths beyond that.

            For Nintendo, Wii Sports was a successful attempt at offering deeper mechanics than simply waggle mini-games without alienating newcomers. Sports Champions goes one further, not just managing to keep the play simple enoughElectronic Theatre Image to interest first-time gamers, but also including a progression and rewards system for those who have grown-up with gaming. SCEE have always insisted that PlayStation Move would not only attract casual gamers, but offer new gameplay experiences to long-time gamers. The line-up at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) back in June suggested that there may indeed be a wealth of more “traditional” titles with PlayStation Move features coming in 2011, but the launch line-up still leaves a little to be desired. Sports Champions is that title which both those new to gaming and with many years of experience under-their-belt are likely to pick-up with their PlayStation Move controller, and thankfully, it’s accommodating for both.

            In Sports Champions, a solo player can play through three Championship Cups for each event, unlocking up to thirty-three stars per cup for their performances. Each cup features ten stages, all of which must be completed before progressing to the next. Additionally, players can unlock new costumes (and eventually characters) for successful completionElectronic Theatre Image of stages and Championship Cups, and also the Challenge Mode. Challenge Mode is another simple addition aimed at extending the single-player lifespan of the product through high score runs, but ultimately the action here is less satisfying than replaying the harder Championship Cup levels.

Six events feature in Sports Champions, Disc Golf, Gladiator Duel, Archery, Beach Volleyball, Bocce and Table Tennis. Without a second glance, most would be able to determine Gladiator Duel as the most enticing prospect for many gamers. Playable with either a single PlayStation Move controller or one each for shield and sword – in both single-player and two-player modes, Gladiator Duel is undoubtedly the closet videogaming has yet come to that fabled 1:1 weapon-based combat. Picking from a generous cast of characters (all of which are available for every game) players have an extensive and unique moveset available with which to take out their opponent in a traditional Beat-‘Em-Up manner. Obviously functioning much better with two controllers per player, the option to compete with just a single PlayStation Move unit will please those wishing to duke-it-out with only two in the household, but realistically was essential for exactly that reason.

            Disc Golf is an interesting inclusion, showcasing the visual depths available to the PlayStation 3 with background detail Wii simply couldn’t even consider handling, especially at pace when following a thrown disc. Archery is Electronic Theatre Imageperhaps the most accurate of all the included games, but does suffer when taller players attempt to play the game within the suggested 8ft. distance from the television.

            Of all the games, it’s surprisingly Table Tennis that proves the most problematic. The serve system acts very similarly to that seen in Wii Sports Resort’s adaptation, but here is fiddly and imprecise, and without extended practice can lead to many fouls serves – a surprising and unfortunate barrier for those new to gaming. That, and the relative obscurity of some of the events will perhaps see the casual gaming audience spending less time with Sports Champions than they might with Wii Sports, but for long-time gamers trying to find a middle-ground for introducing friends and relatives to gaming, Sports Champions is undoubtedly likely to be the first choice of software. With that taken into account, Sports Champions doesn’t come as close to completing its mission objective as Wii Sports, but it’s arguably just as fun to play.Electronic Theatre Image

















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