Sports Champions was one of PlayStation Move’s launch titles that released to gamers in 2010. Featuring a handful of sports on offer, Sports Champions was for me one of the better titles that showed what Sony’s motion controllers could achieve. After two years its sequel returns to get us back up on our feet and moving once again, releasing just in time for the Christmas buying rush.
Jumping into the game you’ll probably want to create your character. It is a shame the developers didn’t put the same effort in adding new sports as they have done with the character customisation area in this game. The level of detailed character options on offer would be very much at home at the beginning of an RPG game, but for a sports title it just feels wasted when you’ll just be causally dipping in and out of the game.
With your character created your next decision is to choose from the three available modes on offer: Cup Play, Free Play and Party Play. In Free Play mode, all of the six sport events can be selected and played with either an AI opponent or up to three other buddies if you have enough controllers spare. In this mode you can skip straight to your favourite course or location, change game lengths and choose between playing during the day or night. Free Play and Party Play modes are a decent way of getting to grips with the game, however if you are on your own you might as well go straight to the Cup Play and learn the ropes as you go through the fairly easy Bronze cup opponents.
With the lack of sport activities packing out this tile, the game’s appeal could be over in just a few minutes once you have sampled them all, however to add to the game’s longevity there is Cup Play. From here you can complete in Bronze, Silver and Gold difficulty challenges for each sport, where you face five AI opponents, earning up to three collectable stars each. Unfortunately, playing through these challenges do not lead to unlocking any new sports to the already lacklustre lineup, instead you’ll be winning some new clothes, hair styles and pattern schemes for even more unnecessary character customisation.
With a Play mode selected, you’ll next reveal all the various sports on offer. It was very disappointing to only see Archery return from the previous game and sits alongside a selection of new sports including: Boxing, Golf, Bowling, Skiing and Tennis. Although Archery has been updated, we still do not have a vast amount of additional sports to play with here. I was looking forward to playing an updated Gladiator Dual mode in this sequel, but sadly there is no more than just a handful of new sports to shake your controller to.
All of these sports have been done to death through various specialist game titles, so are these any better? Well, each sport has been crafted pretty good, each with a mini-game feel to them, but neither of them give you that sense of depth that a dedicated game of the same sport will achieve, especially with titles such as Tiger Woods, Fight Night Champion and Grand Slam Tennis out there.
In the Bowling mode, the usual ten-pin-bowling simulation is on offer here, and it plays out exactly how you’d expect it to. The Move controller actions are tracked very precisely, meaning with practice you can achieve strike after strike every time, and you will need to as well, because after the Bronze cup the difficulty ramps up quite rapidly, making this mode fairly challenging against each AI opponent, even in the first few rounds.
With the Boxing event you can use either one or two Motion Controllers to fight your opponent in the ring. All your punches and dodging attacks are all executed faithfully and accurately. This mode can be played using one Move controller, however two controllers make this mode far more enjoyable, with each controller mimicking your left and right punches fairly accurately.
With the return of the Archery mode, the same Game Types have been carried over from the previous game along with a few new additional ones to play. Once again, one or two controllers can be used here, with two Move controllers giving you a more realistic experience when you’re drawing your bow and aiming.
Skiing is another new sport added to the line-up of sports in the game. In this downhill event you guide your skier down the white slopes against a few other competing AI opponents. Keeping a fast racing line through the corners is key here to winning, and with the help of some accurate tracking from the Move controllers, guiding your character through the turns is very easy. In later levels, building up and using your boost is crucial in fending off any nearby opponents behind you and making sure you cross the finish line first.
In Golf events you get to play through a number of holes over a handful of courses. Swinging your club is as straight forward as it sounds, with accuracy from your swing being reflected well in the game. This mode is no Tiger Woods, and with only a couple of courses to play, this mode looses its appeal fairly quickly, and no thrown-in Night mode will help change this either.
Finally there is Tennis. Again, this mode is crafted fairly well, with your character auto running to the ball and your swing being taken care of by the input of a single Move controller. Like the Golf mode, you wont find a deep tennis simulation here but this mode serves up the goods pretty well and makes for a decent mode in the game.
In short, Sports Champions 2 feels nothing more like a holiday cash-in. It doesn’t give you the impression that it has had any considerable attention in its development for it to be a must have Move title, and this is reflected in its much cheaper retail price. I would have loved to have seen some enhanced sports from the previous game included in this sequel – I am still waiting to play an improved Gladiator Dual game – but sadly it wasn’t to be found here, which is a big shame.
If Sports Champions 2 contained all the previous game’s sports and added a bunch of new ones, it would have resulted in a much more complete title than the current offering we have here. So unless you crave endless character customisation with a few regular sports (that have been done better in other games) thrown in, then you are better off picking up the original title over this sequel, as it will be much cheaper and far more enjoyable.