Motion controls lend themselves to specific play styles. While precision and aiming are great for shooters, many shooter interfaces require more controls than just pointing and shooting. Motions also seem like a great way to progress through action games, but it’s difficult to balance how much activity is needed for a fulfilling amount of game time without growing repetitive or tiring. Which brings us to the genre that most people immediately associate with motion controls: sports titles. Interactive sports titles are perfect for motion controls because they embrace the playing style necessary for motion to be successful. Sports titles offer varied motions, short play times, ability to play well with groups, and accomplishment systems that allow the player to easily disengage at any point without penalty.
Sports Champions 2 is the latest release that follows this formula. Available for the Sony PlayStation 3, this game will allow for owners of the Move controller to add on to the activities seen in the first collection. Archery is featured in both releases, but all of the other sports available in SC2 are brand new. These include bowling, tennis, skiing, golf, and boxing. All of the play styles are easy to grasp and are reminiscent of how these activities have worked in other games and on other consoles.
Motions here mimic the actual sports quite well, and while this doesn’t provide any major innovation to the genre, it does lend itself to authenticity, accessibility, and convenience. The major difference between SC2 and earlier sports models is that how hard and fast you swing or move does have an impact on how well you perform in game. Sitting, wrist-flicking, and standing still won’t help you advance here. This can also be a hazard for people who try to swing too wildly or for extended play periods, so keep in mind that good form and breaks in game play time are good things. Playing with only one controller is surprisingly achievable, but there’s really no comparison with how well the game works with two controllers. Using the navigation controller helps immensely in sports like boxing and archery. It’s basically like the difference between two fingered hunt-and-peck typing or using touch typing.
One of the best elements of SC2 is the ability of the player to customize their character extensively. Graphically, the game is less polished than pretty much every other game on the PS3. In fact, it seems a misstep to make the characters in this game closer to realistic than cartoonish. A stylized cartoon avatar would have been more appealing than the slightly frightening character displays here, but that’s a minor point. There is some variety in facial features, along with a handful of “personalities” and different body types (all of them falling well within the athletic range.) The most customizable aspect is the clothing offered. Patterns and outfits are unlocked through winning various games, and these can all be adjusted with color and decals, also unlocked through gameplay. Aside from the many achievements to unlock here, customizing your character is an added incentive.
Different play modes allow for a variety in goals. Controls and how to advance in the game remain the same for each sport, but the variety in play options helps the player to avoid boredom through repetition. Cup Play allows for players to attempt bronze, silver, gold, and champion cups. Free Play mode is exactly what it sounds like, also allowing the player to attempt tutorials at will and view their stats. Party Play is a great option for groups who want something quick and simple, even allowing for up to four players while using as little as one move controller.
The largest failing of Sports Champions 2 is the atrocious load times. Do expect to spend an inordinate amount of time waiting for different modes and levels to load. Don’t expect the game to break through any expectations of what sports games should be. However, I can recommend the game for those who want the most accurate representation of virtual sports to date. While the game gives you a chance to be pretty active, it’s definitely not going to give you the same well-rounded work out as a game actually designed for fitness. Pick up the game if you enjoy casual active gameplay, or if you like to compete with friends in person.