Sports Champions 2 Review (PS3)

Sequel to the PlayStation Move launch title that tried so hard to be Wii Sports, Sports Champions 2 is exactly what it sounds like. Here the roster of sports has expanded to include Skiing, Bowling and Golf amongst others, and while some leave you wanting to reach for a DualShock, most are great fun. In a holiday season where the Wii U looks to be the best way to get the family playing together, could Sports Champions 2 do the same for PS3 owners?

There's been a noticeable improvement in the graphical design of Sports Champions 2 since the first game, both characters and the arenas you compete in have had an upgrade two years on. Everything feels much more attuned with the half animated half realistic style that the game tries to use, it's a friendly design, unlike the clinical one seen in the original. You can create your own characters this time around too, even if the customisation options are extremely limited.

Be prepared for some intense Skiing races once you get to grips with the controls.

The disciplines available are Boxing, Bowling, Golf, Tennis, Skiing and an updated version of the Archery seen in the first game. Surprisingly the most fun of them all is the one that doesn't also appear in Nintendo's sports game, Skiing. You use the PlayStation Move as one of your Ski Poles, alternating between pushing forward through the snow and bringing it side on to build up speed. Shifting your weight from side to side as you take the controller with you works brilliantly for navigating down the slope, and there's a real sense of speed when you master the controls. Surprisingly it's the easiest of all the new sports to pick up and play, the unpredictable race aspect giving it more re-playability than say Bowling. It's not SSX, but the Skiing mode is a welcome surprise.

The expanded Archery also shines, even when using just one controller, showcasing the pinpoint precision of Move like no other game can. When compared to the similar game in Wii Sports Resort, this is the much more realistic and complete Archery package. You really do have to learn how to keep your arm still as you aim down the sights, the more complicated and tougher challenges requiring and expert level of precision to score highly in. The initial action of taking the bow from the holster on your back and pulling it back is excellently done, and goes a long way to make you feel like you're in The Hunger Games or something. Outside of one on one stand offs where you try to score the most points with your arrows there are extra modes to practice your skills in making Archery the place you'll probably spend the most time in.

It's a shame then that the other four disciplines fall short of the high standard set by Skiing and Archery. Tennis, Golf and Bowling try to navigate the line between keeping it simple and bringing depth but usually feel too clumsy to be fun for long periods of time. Golf doesn't give you same detail of information that a Tiger Woods game would, but ask for a similar level of precision from you. Tennis and Bowling on the other hand feel just a bit cumbersome for anyone who has played their Wii Sports counterparts. It's a testament to the Move controller that in these games it's just too responsive as a piece of tech, which means accidental errors happen far too often. It's a shame, as the basics are certainly there, there's just something missing from the final product.

The environments have received an upgrade for the sequel.

Last of all we have the boxing, which doesn't take long to leave a lasting impression on you. Of the six disciplines available, it's the least polished forcing itself into a corner with many of the same problems that faced the Move enabled Boxing game The Fight last year. You are in control of your boxer's arms, but punches and blocks never seem to land where you plan. Actually winning a bout is near impossible, and trying to master the underlying issues with the controls to get past this isn't rewarding enough to be enjoyable.

Luckily this is just 1/6 of Sports Champions 2, and given how much fun there is to be had with the Archery and Skiing sections in particular it's hard to be too disappointed here. As Move games go, there's not much else that is as easily accessible and downright fun as this, a true shame given the potential of the technology. A combination of the two Sports Champions games would probably receive a higher score, but as it is, this is a decent choice for any PS3 owners looking to get off the sofa this Christmas.

Top Game Moment: The Skiing mode provides plenty of great moments when you pull off a flip manoeuvre or another cool trick.

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