Sports Champions 2 Review (PS3)
The first Sports Champions went on to be the best-selling PlayStation Move title so far, rightfully deserving a sequel. Part of this is due to the game’s inclusion in the PlayStation Move Starter Bundle. And, although it may not have sold quite as well without being a pack-in in the US, it still stands as the very best PlayStation Move-required title available today, and the best example of what the PlayStation Move controller is capable of.
Sports Champions 2 fixes the areas where the first title failed—namely, the “sports” included on the disc. While the first attempt from Zindagi Games featured what most would consider non-sports—such as Bocce Ball, Table Tennis or Disc Golf—the sequel has real sports like Boxing, Golf, Tennis, Bowling, and Skiing. The stand-out sport from SC1, Archery, makes a comeback and is just as fun as the first, but still exhibits one major flaw in each game: It plays so much better using two PlayStation Move controllers.
Take Boxing for example. Playing with one PlayStation Move controller restricts the gameplay to button presses; no motion controls to be found. Then again, you wouldn’t be that great of a boxer with only one arm, so I see why the choice was made to go that route. It makes for a perfect analogy: Playing Sports Champions 2 with only one Move controller is like fighting with one arm tied behind your back.
With two controllers, however, Boxing is fun, challenging, and a whole body workout. Even despite not tracking your legs and movement, instead opting for trigger presses to dodge, Boxing can have you working up quite a sweat. Blocking gut-shots low or raising your gloves to your face to block a shot, then unleashing a combination of punches feels a lot like the real thing. And it’s a much better attempt than the utter disappointment that was The Fight: Lights Out.
Progression through the various cups in Boxing definitely raised the challenge significantly, leaving me KO’d on a number of occasions. Losing again and again forced me to learn my opponents fight-style, and ensure I blocked and countered at the right times with the right combination of punches. The game also does a decent job at teaching you these combinations during the various cup challenges.
All of the other sports feature a similar progression system, playing through bronze, silver, gold—and after you beat all of those, champion—cups, learning and getting better along the way.
Archery again was my favorite, and offered more of a challenge and variety this time around. But again, playing with just one Move controller doesn’t quite live up to the experience of having two. Not having two Move controllers doesn’t hinder Archery like it does Boxing, but it gives the realism a swift kick in the pants.
Golf and Bowling were mostly straightforward, if you’ve played either of these sports in any capacity. Your aim and approach will change dependent on the speed and velocity of your swing or toss. Bowling allows for a bit of spin, and Golf requires a good deal of patience and practice swings to excel—just as these two sports would in reality.
Tennis was my least favorite, but is very accessible for anyone trying to get familiar with motion controls. Rather than complex movements necessary to Boxing or Archery, or the accuracy needed to do well in Bowling or Golf, Tennis is more about wrist positioning and being on the right side of the swing.
Skiing is a pleasant surprise. Two PlayStation Move controllers in a vertical position make for perfect ski poles. The movements very closely resemble those in Skiing, but instead of tilting your whole body, you’re tiling the Move controllers for turns. Lowering the controllers has the skier in a squatted stance to speed down the slopes at a faster pace. This is especially good right before a jump, giving you more air to do tricks.
You can play any of these sports in Cup mode, which provides various challenges, or free play and party mode. Free play is just that, try some of each sport out with up to two players. Party mode lets up to four characters participate in a tournament of sorts, randomly putting players up against one another to test their skills. This is a much more fun and entertaining way to do multiplayer on a sports game, and it really is a success. The formula even borrows from other ‘party’ games, letting the winner pose with AR dumbells or a hook hand, or even draw on an opponents face—all captured using the PlayStation Eye, letting you save the pic to your HDD or embarrass yourself and others by sharing on Facebook.
There’s one theme running through all of these sports: They very closely mimic their real life counterparts. And that’s what any good motion controlled sports game should do. Sports Champions 2 does what Wii Sports did for the Wii, but does it twenty times more realistically. Now that the game has real sports, plus the addition of party mode, Sports Champions 2 is that much more appealing and enjoyable. Unfortunately, though, despite it’s excellence in nearly every aspect, it’s a very different game depending on how many Move controllers you have. Like anything, two is better than one. In Sports Champions 2 two Move controllers are necessary to really get the full experience, especially for Boxing which is easily the game’s best sport.
Still, Sports Champions 2 is a deep game for being Move title, offering many opportunities for both fun and fitness. With two controllers, you’re getting the best PlayStation Move title available. Because of the lack of strong Move titles, you’re probably still getting the best PlayStation Move title available even with just one controller. It’s just that much better with two. That point really can’t be stressed enough.