Spike Volleyball is the latest entry in the sports line-up from the team that gave us Tennis World Tour; Big Ben Interactive.
Now I’m not going to claim to be a volleyball expert, I think the only time I have ever watched a real Volleyball match was during the 2012 Olympics. My expertise of this sport is firmly within the realms of Tekken Ball back on the PS1 (Yes, I played as Gon the little Dinosaur wearing Boxing Gloves)
That being said, I was open minded to a more realistic volleyball game and thought it could be interesting, so here we are all ready to do a review…
As soon as the game loads up it throws you into a tutorial game giving you the very basics of how to play, I needed this as I mentioned I have no experience with Volleyball as a sport so any help was very well received. It didn’t seem to hard, a simple hold of a button and flick of the analogue stick to control the serve, then different buttons that correspond with the other members of the team as the ball is returned. So far so good!
After this tutorial, the main menu popped up showing me the games multiple modes, even better as I spotted both Men and women were available as an option for all modes. Something I think more team sport games are trying to implement now (and about time too!)
Most of the modes are basic for Sport titles so I won’t delve into much detail, Exhibition or Single game, Online Mode etc. The only one that I thought would give an insight to the real game for the review was the career mode as this is where the sport should come alive.
Instantly I felt a little alienated… No UK flag in the options, if your releasing the game in this country then shouldn’t there be an option to pick our own flag? Not a massive problem, but since it’s simply a picture of the flag it would have been nice for career mode.
After I decided to select Canada (who can argue with a flag that has a big leaf on it). I was then allowed to design my team logo and strip design (well pick from a limited field of pre-designed ones anyway).
Once all this was completed it was time to start my first game, My thinking was that I won’t touch the default formations and team settings right of the bat, let’s just see how default works. Well It quickly became obvious that the formations were the least of my worries.
There seems to be quite a large delay at times between the button presses and the reactions on screen, almost like a bad game of Call of Duty. But other times its perfectly fine, this is something I’ve never experienced in an offline game, especially in current gen titles.
After a very short spell of playing I realised that it was in fact very easy to win, as there is a particular way of serving that seemed to work almost every time. Very reminiscent of the 90s gameplay where you could just repeat a move over and over and the AI wasn’t smart enough to adjust for it. I even recorded an example of it and then a scorecard during the timeout to show exactly how many times I did this in only my second ever game.
In my next game, I decided I wouldn’t use this method, for the sake of the review I needed to play it properly (I am a professional of course). The game decided to have the last laugh, I was half way through and the game decided to lock up on me (or in this case, the opposition decided they didn’t want to serve the ball). So, we sat for ages waiting and still nothing. The only way out was to forfeit the game. This then continued to happen for the next 3 games, meaning I had instantly accrued 3 losses through no fault of my own.
The basics are there for this to be a fun game, especially against other people, however it feels like it has been rushed and is full of bugs that make it almost unplayable for any length of time.
I did attempt to play online, but at the time of writing this review I had no luck in finding any opposition so I will have to leave that part as a TBC at a later date.
Unfortunately, things don’t get much better here. At first glance the stadiums look nice, fairly detailed and the crowds are acceptable.
It all stops there; the character models are definitely previous gen at best. The game animations are way out of sync, the amount of times the ball was returned by thin air or someones elbow is actually quite comical
After 5 games the referees had multiple different names, but were the same two character models repeated, during one of the games both my team and the opposition appeared to have the same manager (or his identical twin brother).
All of this quickly piles up and removes any possible immersion. In 2019 there really is no excuse for these issues in my opinion, especially for a game that is almost £50 to purchase (at time of writing), hardly a budget price!
The bulk of the audio really consists of menu music and in game commentary, both are rather generic. The music is definitely something I would expect to hear while watching a 90s advert and the commentary is rather repetitive fairly quickly. But that is nothing new when it comes to sports games. I play most sports games on mute with my own soundtrack playing on the stereo, hardly a game breaker in my opinion.
After what I’ve said in the other sections, I doubt I really need to explain my thoughts here, but to be completely objective, IF you enjoyed the gameplay and didn’t mind hugely outdated graphics etc. then there is probably enough here to keep you busy inside career mode for a while as you work to improve your squad and challenge for top honours.
There are a reasonable number of trophies for any hunters that are interested. But they will involve some serious time spent online earning that world ranking.
I’ve heard the term ‘floater’ used in Volleyball before and well I could quite easily see that term fitting adequately here (although I’m sure in the sport it has a different meaning).
There is very little here that deserves praising and the whole package feels like a rush job. For a full price title I’ve come to expect a certain level of quality and they seem to have left it in the locker room with Spike Volleyball.
I’m sure it will have its fans, and after enough beer with a few friends it may be something to put on for a laugh, but other than that, my recommendation is ‘STAY AWAY’
Spike Volleyball fully deserves to be taken out with the Thumb Culture Trash Award. Sorry but there is just no excuses here.
Disclaimer: We were given a code in order to complete this review, Any chance of a refund?