|Simon & Schuster Interactive
| Mature Humor, Mild Violence, Suggestive
| The Good
Solid gameplay engine
Graphics and audio portions are fine
Lots of modes
| The Bad
Weak fighting engine
Could be more complex
With titles like Dead or Alive XBV
and Beach Spikers, the volleyball genre has recently
seen a number of me-too titles. Following on the heels of
the moderately successful Outlaw
Golf, Simon & Schuster Interactive have taken their
extreme (or just extremely rude and offensive) themes and
built a volleyball title that's both humorous and fun to play.
With a cast of humorous characters that range from British
punk girl Lizzy to gigolo El Suave.
By the sport's nature, the control scheme for Outlaw Volleyball
is simple and easy to pick up. In fact, by the second or third
match, you'll be able to pick up the game's mechanics and
enjoy yourself with little effort. To serve a ball, players
hold the A button, which brings up a gauge. To get the best
shot, you'll need to release the button at the peak of the
gauge. From there, the usual rules apply - you need to bump
and set the ball (with the A Button) for a spike over the
net. To spike the ball, players can either hit the ball hard
with the X Button or lightly tap it over with the B Button.
When using the X Button spike, you'll need to charge the "quality
meter" to make the shot more powerful. While holding buttons
for either spikes, bumps or sets, you can maneuver where the
shot will go with the left analog stick. The Y button allows
you to jump and block shots, but to effectively use this,
you need both timing and a good understanding of angles.
To spice up the gameplay, Outlaw Volleyball throws
in a turbo meter, which can be used by pulling the Right Trigger
to make your player run around faster or to deliver vicious
spikes. And, if you're losing badly (and your momentum meter
will be a testament to that), you can always use a Beating
Token and chose to pick a fight with one of your opponents.
The fight controls are pretty basic (punch, kick, block, special),
and the interface is a little clunky, but if you win, your
character can take momentum from your opponent. One might
think that momentum has little use, but when you do have it,
shots manage to go your way. These added elements, along with
the outrageous theme of the game, really sets the game apart
from the rest of the crowd.
What's a sport game, albeit a humorous one, without lots
and lots of modes. Players have access to Exhibition and Random
Play modes, along with a hearty Tour mode, where you compete
in events to unlock clothes, characters and courts, and the
Drills mode. Drills play out like a series of mini-games set
to improve your skills by focusing on aiming your spikes,
bumping to set locations, among many others. Complete one
of these drills and you gain points that can be spent to improve
the character's stats. The multiplayer, whether in person
or on Xbox Live, is good fun and adds nicely to the larger
single player offering.
Once you get into the exhibition and versus matches of the
game, you'll find lots of customizable options, including
how you score, how long the matches are and how many points
you need to win by. You can also toss in other options, like
"Hot Potato" when the ball explodes after a limited amount
of time or the ability to win money while scoring. And, while
the characters are personalities all their own, you'll want
to pay attention to each character's stats so that you can
make a team best suited for your style of gameplay.
While it doesn't have the polish that Dead or Alive XBV,
Outlaw Volleyball does look quite good. Each of the
courts has a good bit of personality, even if it isn't played
up too much outside of the introduction. Each court comes
with animated spectators and a lot of secondary activity to
accent the main gameplay. During the game, you'll be treated
to a more dynamic camera that treats the activity like an
actual telecast, but if you prefer, you can change the camera
to a variety of more static angles. The character models are
sharply detailed and show some pretty accurate animations.
In fact, the animations during the player reaction scenes
between serves are pretty fun to watch (and if you get tired
of them, you can turn the reactions off in the options menu).
Although there are a few rough edges and a texture or two
that doesn't look as optimized as it could be, the package
as a whole is quite nice and you'll not likely notice anything
The audio package is pretty solid, with only a few things
that might hold it back. Sound effects are the standard fare
and the vocal bits from the characters during gameplay are
good enough to draw you into the game. The play-by-play from
Steve Carell is sharp and laugh-out-loud at times. Too bad
many of the lines get repeated often, which really draws away
from the game. It's all right to hear the same joke repeated
in another game, but to hear the same one-liner three or four
times in the same match kills the humorous theme. The voice
parts for the characters are pretty funny, even if somewhat
over-the-top by intention. Musically, the game sports a number
of metal and hip-hop acts that work for the theme but really
don't deliver anything overly interesting.
For the most, the package for Outlaw Volleyball is
sharp. There are some repetitive elements, which can be ignored,
but the only thing that might keep this game from greatness
is that the game engine requires little advanced skill. While
the Drills portion of the game is good for honing your skills,
you won't really need the other than to beef up your characters.
Once you have a basic grasp of the game, winning matches will
prove to be a regular feat, only met with the occasional hiccup
It must be said that if you're looking for a great volleyball
game, look no further. Rather than trying to fill the gameplay
void with needless minigames or eyecandy, Hypnotix provides
a fun game that will keep you playing for some time.