November 23, 2012
Sports Champions 2 looks to try and cater for a very broad demographic with its sports this time around as you've got tennis, skiing, boxing, golf and bowling. However, compared to the original game it's rather uninspired. Almost all of these sports have appeared in other motion games before, and to make matters worse, all of the original games (aside from archery) have been removed despite being quite fun.
It's rather puzzling, to say the least. Games like Bocce and Gladiator worked well and they could quite easily have been included alongside the new crop of games in an improved capacity. To make things worse, the games aren't all that great either.
Tennis, perhaps the most frequent sports game when it comes to motion peripherals, replaces Table Tennis from the first game. It's a bold decision, as while table tennis has worked quite well with motion controls, nobody has really managed to capture the feel of tennis. That remains the same here.
When you first play this sport, the controls will feel pretty bad. And it’s unfortunate that even after playing it for a while longer, your opinion won’t change all that much. Of course some skill is required to beat your opponent as you can do different shot types based on wrist twists, but a lot of the gameplay feels prohibitive. It's rather disappointing to say the least. The only positive is the difficulty spike in the AI tournament, which makes you really work for it.
Bowling is a mode that has quite the opposite effect as it's ridiculously easy to get good scores. Without too much trouble, it's possible to get strikes pretty much at will, leaving the AI with very little chance of doing anything. There's also no innovation with this mode at all, as every single control element is just taken straight from other games on the market.
When you get to Skiing, things start to really go downhill, as this mode ironically doesn't require much motion at all. It requires you to bend your legs a little, changing the height of each controller to determine the direction of your skier on the screen – very boring.
It's no real surprise to know that Archery is the sport that's best implemented, because it was also featured in the first Sports Champions. It's very intuitive, actually works and offers the right level of challenge to make it rewarding. Why this couldn't have been the same with the other sports is rather baffling, but somehow the developers managed to ignore this. Even Boxing isn't very fun, because it takes so much to actually beat an opponent that by the time you've achieved it, there's no real impetus to carry on – it's just more of the same.
There are some positives though, as you can now make your own avatars and having the ability to test yourself against ever-increasingly difficult AI does give the game some kind of replay value outside of playing against your friends. Playing against your friends does also, as always, make the game much more tolerable.
Despite this, there's just no getting away from the fact that in two years, the developers have done very little to try and make this game better than the original title. Yes, it's meant primarily as a party game, but if the developers can't take things seriously and try to make it an actual game worth playing on its own merits, why should consumers bother to give it the time of day?
The fact the original sports, which worked pretty well, have been removed, just adds salt to the wound. And considering this is a first-party title, you'd think Sony would want to showcase how good PlayStation Move is, and not subject people to things that are average at best.
Sports Champions 2 is a missed opportunity for Sony. Many of the sports from the original game have been removed and their replacements don't offer an experience that compensates for this. If anything, some aspects of the game feel worse than the original and it's a real disappointment. There is still some fun to be had here, but Sports Champions 2 is far from being a shining example of what the PlayStation Move is capable of. Instead, it's just an average motion control sports game.