Yes, you read the title correctly, this is a review of a Volleyball simulator sports game. It isn’t the first sport most people would jump to but it’s fair to say it’s not a crowded market. Unless you factor in the Dead or Alive attempt at Volleyball then it might be a bit more of a popular game.
With the likes of FIFA, Madden, NBA and MLB, the sports genre for consoles is pretty good. The publisher, Bigben, has published sports games before. They are involved in the ‘Handball’ game which is another niche sport. However, is there volleyball game demand out there and can Black Sheep Studio put together an answer for this demand?
This game offers a My Team mode, exhibition matches, challenge matches and online games. Your play as national teams, men or women. From my research, there are no real-life players in this game as it is not licensed.
You start out going through the tutorial which puts you into a match. Now the tutorial for me made the game feel complicated but once you get into some matches it isn’t too bad. X just before receiving the ball passes it, then you select an attacking player with an action button and then direct where you want your smash to go. You get into a rhythm with it once in a game.
Blocking at the net is done by moving your player’s side to side with R2 & L2. You need to time your jump just right to have any impact. The blocking just never really took with me. It isn’t precise enough. You are moving players and hoping for the best with the block.
In My Team, once you have selected a country, you get the option to do some basic customization. This includes selecting kit colours on a pre-designed kit, whether you want sleeves or not and you get to select the colours of a team badge, mainly animals. Once you have kit sorted it is time for some matches. You have a fixture calendar and as dates pass you play matches. Simple. You can edit the formation you take on serves and so on. I never really noticed that much difference, but I am not a volleyball player.
An attempt to add some depth to the My Team mode comes with agents. You can send scouts out to watch competitions and find new players for your team. Yes, they will find some, does it feel like a key mechanic though? Not really. It seems to be added for the sake of adding something.
Unfortunately, we now come on to the real negatives. The game does not have the quality you expect to see on current gen consoles. Venues look OK but the players don’t. There isn’t enough variation between them, they just don’t look realistic.
The visuals aren’t the only frustration with this game. The animations are too often out of sync with the rest of the game. The action replays are great for showcasing how bad this actually is. Watching a ball fly off somewhere to then have it spiked towards you was frustrating. It meant that it was really hard to play the game. How can you block when the ball doesn’t even need to be near the player’s hand for them to hit it?
In one match I managed to find a spot on the court to serve to that meant every time the ball would just clip the net and no receiving player could get it. 9 aces in a row! This shouldn’t really be possible. Yes, it made it easy to get the win but just showcased that the physics in the game are maybe not perfect.
Bigben has done well to make a Volleyball game that is easy to play. Like Madden, having your attack choices on the action buttons felt natural after a while. You can get the hang of it. There just isn’t enough here to make it a great game. Add in the poor graphics and the terrible out of sync animations and the game becomes hard to recommend.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*