I’d definitely say Sports Champions and PlayStation Move came along at a good time for me. The declining build quality of Nintendo’s products, their growing complacency and my kids’ inability to look after things all pushed me towards the idea of “HD waggle”, as many call it.
It might come as a surprise then that Sports Champions 2 made a poor first impression on me. While you’ve got a lot more control in character creation, the characters look a bit ropey at times. Although if you’re willing to spend as much time customising your character as you would in an RPG, you’ll be able to get something satisfying out of it.
As for the games themselves, they’re often not as fun as what they’re replacing. Bocce from the first is better than Bowling in 2, Disc Golf is better than 2’s Golf and Boxing isn’t nearly as fun as the Gladiator matches from the original.
The best part of this new game is the skiing. This, at least, has no equivalent in the first game, better or otherwise. Playing with two move controllers, you hold them as you would think; horizontal and low to streamline yourself for speed, low then quickly high for a jump, pulling them vertically towards you to stick your poles in the snow and shunt yourself forward. All of the actions in skiing are the kind of perfect mirroring of reality that made the first game so immersive.
Skiing isn’t the only truly new feature… Sort of. They’ve added 3DTV support and, while it’s not the horrible fake 3D of Enslaved or most Ubisoft games (read: every one I’ve tried), it does seem very low-res, to the point of being mush. Then there’s the common conflict between 3D and Move games; those where you stand break the illusion, because of your movement, how closer you are to the TV and the glare of the controllers themselves onscreen. If you’ve a collection of 3D games for your PS3, this doesn’t deserve to be in the company of the Crysis games or Uncharted 3, for example.
Perhaps (or rather hopefully) a temporary issue is the game’s trophy syncing. After my first session with the game, I started having trouble syncing trophies. Which is to say without earning a single trophy or playing a game, a trophy sync is required every time you look at trophies or a player profile. Worse, the new “Offline” mode doesn’t work; if you’re online with your trophies in offline mode, you’ll still have to sync. When your trophies number in the thousands, this effectively slows down every game. It’s definitely Sports Champions 2 that’s the cause too, since trophies newer and older from other games show in the recently earned strip of your profile. Of course, it would be nice if we didn’t have to sync trophies in the first place! iOS, Xbox Live and Steam have trophies without a painfully long progress bar that locks up the system and a cancel button that locks it up just as long, why can’t you?
So we’re racking up a fair number of failings for one game here, which is not at all what I expected when Sports Champions 2 was announced. It’s fair to call it a disappointment, even though I didn’t really have high expectations to begin with.
Did I mention the skiing is really good?
5 Glowing Snowballs out of 10