In films, the rule of thumb generally means that sequels tend to be worse than the original film. However, when it comes to games, the opposite is usually true. Using the knowledge and experience found in developing the original, many sequels expand upon their success’ and fix their failures. With Sports Champions 2 however, they’ve gone and fixed their failures but have, strangely, failed to capitalise on their successes. As that old saying goes, they’ve given with one hand but taken with the other.
In many ways, Sports Champions 2 is the big brother of Zindagi’s previous game. Gone are the more throwaway and unusual sports of disc golf, bocce, volleyball, table tennis and gladiator duels. In their place, their grown up counterparts, sports recognised by everyone, everywhere. Disc golf does away with frisbees and uses balls to become golf; table tennis upgrades in size and becomes the national sport of tennis. The sunny beaches found in volleyball have gone entirely and instead the snowy slopes of skiing takes its place. Bocce has dropped it’s Eastern European routes and adopted the American bravado and spectacle found in 10-pin bowling; and the childish bashing of sword and shield has been replaced by the banging of gloves with boxing. The only thing that’s remained unscathed is the rather fantastic sport of archery.
While I genuinely don’t know why the highly enjoyable modes of yore aren’t included this time around, I can only speculate that they just mustn’t have been well received by players. Clearly the majority of the public must just want to play something that contains sports they recognise, rather than something different. Arguably if it’s all been done before, why include it again, but the differences between how the two games behave means it would’ve felt different to play. Either way, it’s clear that Zindagi are aiming for a different audience this time around.
In an effort to make things more personal, Zindagi has let you create your own avatar to take part in sports with. While they still have those caricature proportions of ridiculous waists and bulging muscles, you can make one look rather like yourself – or do as I did and opt for something that looks like it’s come from outer space. As you progress through the Cup Mode you’ll also unlock more items to customise how they look. And for those of you who enjoy changing your avatar’s clothing you can do that so they have a different outfit for each of the sports they take part in.
Other than bringing in a raft of customisation options, general PS Move tracking has been improved. No longer will you be regularly calibrating between each sport. No more of that shoulder, belt, thigh movement to make it recognise your body. Now all you to is press a couple of buttons while standing still and everything just works. It’s a wonderful change and definitely makes entry for newcomers and more casual players easier than its predecessor. The only niggle is that in Party Mode things can fall apart just a little bit.
Calibrating four controllers individually works wonderfully well, but when you’ve got four drunken and excited players all clambering to grab a controller and join in, the calibration goes right out of the window. In many instances I ended up controlling my opponent as calibration had become confused between who’s who. Clearly this is something that shouldn’t happen, and most likely only happened because everybody calibrated all at once. However, when developing a ‘party’ mode, Zindagi and San Diego Studios must have been aware that many players wouldn’t sit patiently and take turns in the heat of the moment.
When things work though, Party Mode is good fun. Here you can play with four people and a number of controllers, meaning you can share 1 between all of you if needs be. You’ll play a mish-mash of random game modes and courses over a set amount of rounds and see who the winner is overall. It’s your general multiplayer really; except there are a copule of additions that turn this into some madcap evening’s entertainment. Not only are victory poses back for you to be a bad winner – gloating your success to Facebook if you so wish – but to add more insult to injury the winner can scribble and doodle all over the losers image after each round. As you can guess, things can get a little loud as you slowly give someone a cocknose.
Putting aside the few issues that are present this time around, Sports Champions 2 is one tidy package for those looking for some more family fun with your PS Move controllers. It’s still got the lovely visuals and rather oddly proportioned sports stars for you to play as, but it is definitely missing some of the charm that the original had. No more shall I have evenings with friends where we all shout “Bocce!” for no apparent reason during Sports Champions. “Tennis!” or “Bowling!” just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
Audio/Visual – 3/5: it’s certainly a very pretty game but it all feels rather sterile, the lack of memorable or great audio only aids in making this feel cold.
Gameplay – 4/5: All the sports are accessible and feel pretty much like you’d expect them too. Some things translate better than others, but Archery is still as top-notch as it was before.
Innovation – 3/5: They’ve certainly added a lot more in terms of customisation, but gameplay innovations aren’t overly vast. It’s more a streamlining of what came before.
Value – 5/5: For £20 you’re getting a lot for your money. It’s really good for parties where Just Dance 4 isn’t the right sort of game to break out and – if you’re a sports fan who enjoys playing alone – you have plenty to do.
Final Score: 3.5/5