Outlaw Volleyball 2


Review by Dan Loosen



Graphics: 9

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7

Outlaw Volleyball... a game about Volleyball with a bunch of string-bikini clad women and strange men. I bought this game for two reasons. The first, and perhaps the more important was that I have a soft spot for Volleyball games. Whether it was SuperSpike Volleyball on the NES or Malibu Beach Volleyball on the Lynx, I love a good digital game of volleyball. It was the only sport that I played in high school, and even though there are pretty much no newer 6-on-6 games, the beach volleyball alternative is just fine by me.

The second reason that I got the game was because it was $9.99 at Best Buy new. I picked up a few games shortly after getting my Xbox, and this was one of them, along with Halo (pack-in) and Tony Hawk 2X.

The first thing that you notice with any Outlaw game is that the characters are always extreme. Unfortunately, while this is slightly amusing, it is wholly unnecessary -- especially the racial stereotypes that the game gives to everyone. You have the native American woman who wears a leather pelt bikini, feathers and war paint. A Mexican woman named Chica who has a strong accent. And so on. If the characters had their "attitude" removed, even with the graphics being the same, I wouldn't feel dirty playing it. But with their stereotypical roles, the game loses appeal.

The actual game of volleyball is surprisingly easy to get the hang of and play. You pick your characters and then take on other teams in many different gameplay variations from rally rules to the number of points scored. Unfortunately, there is the really crappy Hot Potato mode that the game relies on far to heavily. In Hot Potato, as you hit the ball back and forth, it gets hotter until it explodes. If it explodes on your side of the net, you lose a point. This is extremely annoying, as it is very difficult to time perfectly (the ball can't just be on its way, but MUST be on the other side of the net. This is really, really annoying). It makes some of the games based on luck, not on skill.

There is another game mode, I believe called Land Mine. In this game mode, if the ball hits the ground for a point or side out, a stick of dynamite is placed there and it explodes after a few seconds, sending any characters too close to it skyward. The problem with this mode is that while it is okay in multiplayer games, in single player games you can lead the computer into blowing itself up time after time. This again makes the gameplay rather annoying.

Combine those two game types, and you're in for a real crappy game.

Luckily, the rest of the game solidly makes up for it. Bumping, setting and spiking is easy to learn, and you can get into the game in no time at all. You can aim your spikes to avoid the defender, or you can tip it over. You can block the spike, but will have to be careful not to have your other player out of position and miss.

The regular gameplay, without Hot Potato and Land Mind modes, is just as perfect for a Volleyball game as Virtua Tennis was for Tennis. The modes work just perfectly.

Add that into the way fun training thing that seems to be based on the Virtua Tennis mold. Bump the ball into the center of a circle to score a bunch of points. Serve the ball into various targets. Spike the ball into various targets. Block your opponent's shots a bunch. This totally reminds me of the world tour practice mode for Virtua Tennis, and it is really fun. Sometimes, this gets overly difficult, but just like Virtua Tennis, it always makes you feel like you can get it done.

The sound is good. Some people don't like the music, but I think that it fits the game rather well. I don't know if there is an option to import your own music, but the in-game soundtrack isn't bad at all. The sounds of the ball hitting things and the characters is good, but hearing the same characters say the same things over and over does get annoying.

Now, for some quick gripes:
  • It seems to take forever to unlock your characters. If I have to beat the games to unlock a character, I probably am not going to go back through the game again with that character.
  • This game is begging for a character creator, even if it would be rather simple. I'm very surprised it didn't get one.
  • The challenge mode has a few games that are really tough, and really long. For instance -- win 3 sets of 21 with side out rules and hot potato. It's too much luck, and then you can play one round for an hour and not make it anywhere.
  • Along with the one above, you can't save mid-set.
  • Some of the challenges start out extremely hard, while others aren't. It would've been nice if these were more balanced.

And a few things that are good:

  • The graphics for the game fit it perfectly. The players look real and move realistically The courts are extremely well detailed.
  • The game included a free sampler CD of some of the music included. For $10.00 with a sampler CD, you can't go wrong.
  • The challenge mode is extremely long. You'll spend hours playing through it all, and you will get better while doing it.
  • The challenges - even those that are really difficult - are really fun. They'll keep you playing for a long time.

Overall, at $9.99 I feel like I got this game for a steal. I would have happily paid $30.00 for it and not have been disappointed. From what I have heard, it is much better than DOA: Beach Volleyball. I haven't played that one yet, but I will because it is a Volleyball game. But it can wait. OV is too solid to worry about paying $30.00 for one that is known to be weak on the volleyball portion.

Outlaw Volleyball will make you sometimes feel like you have to play it for longer than you should, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

As is my standard, Gameplay matters the most. Outlaw Volleyball gets a 7 because of the overused Hot Potato and Land Mine modes that simply aren't that fair or that fun. Without those two modes, or with less of a reliance on them, it would have scored a 10 there and maybe even a 9 overall. It is a very solid game, and if the offensive material was left out (and you could even leave the bikini-clad women in it because it is, after all, a beach volleyball game) it could have scored a 10.


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Last updated: Monday, November 22, 2004 05:42 PM