Platform: PS3 (Playstation Move)
Did someone say “cash-in”? Couldn’t have put it better myself...
There are many who have looked at Kinect and the PlayStation Move and declared them merely rip-offs of the Wii and it’s clever physical gameplay. And to those people, with all the respect due, we say “no shit, Sherlock.”
Of course these are rip-offs of the Wii but they do have certain advantages, the graphic superiority of the PS3 and XBOX being the biggest selling point. The one great thing that Wii brought to the market was its all-involving nature. If you’ve ever watched your mum try to play Guitar Hero or master the quick one-two on Pro-Evo you’ll appreciate just how clever the Wii has been to open up gaming to the whole family.
Now, with Move, that sort of openness is available on an item that can also double as a Blu-Ray player. The addition of this technology could well see Sony dominate the games market for years to come. That won’t be the case, however, if they release more titles of this “quality”.
Racquet Sports, as Wii owners may realise, is a rushed PS3-revision of the old Racquet Sports Party. Yes, it’s cynical, but actually, we don’t have a major issue with cynical if it results in a good game that all the family can enjoy. Racquet Sports however is a pretty terrible game that hardly anyone will enjoy. In this instance, cynical is a very bad thing indeed and the game’s only USP. Oops.
At a basic level, things are just about okay. The Move controller is a smart piece of kit and has the satisfying heft of a racquet handle, making this a moderately satisfactory game for a brief cross-generational knockabout. It’s as you investigate deeper that the problems become more and more obvious. There may be five games here – tennis, squash, table tennis, badminton and, er, beach tennis – but there's so little variety between them, you wish they'd reduced the number of game options in favour of one or two done well: for example, a further spit and polish on badminton and beach tennis, the two options here that come across the best.
You’ll also perhaps wish they allowed a little more personality to be injected, via the use of an avatar or something akin to the Nintendo Mii. There's a reasonable character choice here with some basic customisation possible, but if there's a difference in terms of skill or attributes between the characters, I didn't notice it. It's the sort of thing that, even if you can't explain why, will give the impression of a game that's slightly half-baked.
In terms of pick-up-and-playability, Racquet Sports is pretty efficient. In terms of mastery though, this is a very peculiar experience. That's partly the delay between your swing and your character striking the ball – why, Ubisoft? why? - and partly down to the game's other mechanics, such as tilting the Move controller towards the ball to speed up your player, or holding T / trigger as you swing to make your shot stronger. These should add something to the game experience – or at least make you harder to beat – but, instead, add very little. The tilt-and-move aspect in particular is so forgiving that it's remarkably easy to return EVERY shot. Levelling the playing field is all very well but not if it makes every rally a potentially endless affair. While the Wii allows you to score points by playing a decent shot, Racquet Sports makes it more about the individual error. Also, you have to question why a game that allows topspin and backspin and dropshots then makes them so perishingly difficult to perform with any accuracy or reliability?
- It might get Grandma playing on the PS3
- It looks pretty cute
- Er.. that’s about it
- Ridiculously complex to master / play well
- The annoying delay between swing and hit
- The lack of customisation
The Short Version: While the different games offer a degree of variety, it’s mainly visual: in terms of gameplay and feel, there's not enough to differentiate between them. The overhead smash in badminton is a nice touch but when table tennis, tennis and squash feel like the same game – and you’ve contemplated yet another lobbing of Move controller out of the window - I'd say something's gone more than a little awry. There's the start of something decent here, and the Move needs and will have a good sports title in the very near future I’m sure. This, however, feels like someone, somewhere, has rushed this out just so there's another Move title on the shelves.