Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Racquet Sports (PS3)

Even though the new Playstation Move controller has already gone through the motions in a previous review, we've decided to examine another launch title, Ubisoft's Racquet Sports. Unlike Sony's Sports Champions which took a more realistic approach, this takes on a decidedly less serious feel that's more in line with the Wii aesthetic. The main characters have a cartoony look that makes them feel more approachable. There are several of them available right from the start and you can customize their appearance by unlocking additional items during the game. This includes outfits, haircuts, and other items that can be used to give them more personality. Players have the choice of playing each of the five events in different modes ranging from practice, to co-op and a unique party mode, where different rules come into play at random. As you might expect from the title, the events all have you controlling a racquet of some sort and include a fairly standard tennis game, squash, badminton, table tennis and beach tennis. All of the games play fairly similarly and most players should have little trouble getting the hang of things. Interestingly, the game has a completely different way of calibrating itself than the one used in Sports Champions. You merely have to point the controller at the screen and you can get right into the action. This is a much simpler approach, but it also might explain a few things. When using the Move controller, it doesn't feel as accurate as it could have been and there's a noticeable lack of precision and accuracy, which makes its mechanics feel less sophisticated than its SCEA-published counterpart.

Once you navigate the menus, it's time to go to the action. Players begin by holding the Move controller in either your right or left hand and can then use it as you would a standard racket or hand-ball controller. The on field running is mostly controlled automatically, so you mostly only need to worry about hitting the ball. The basic motion control techniques used in Racquet Sports are fairly straightforward and most players will find little to no learning curve. Swinging the remote straight out from the side allows you to hit the ball and it usually volleys right back to your opponent. You can use several moves such as forehand and backhand strokes by swinging the controller either over or under. More advanced techniques such as lobs and applying backspin can be controlled by swinging in an upward direction, which allows you to perform much more unpredictable techniques. This is gradually introduced to players who go through the training mode, which is a simple set of tutorials that teach you the basics quickly. Once you move onto the main court, you can practice further by competing against AI opponents who put up a decent fight at the harder difficulty levels. As a causal game, the main objective in Racquet Sports comes when you play against friends, which can be done in co-op and tournament modes. Its fairly fun when it comes to this part, and the game's simple play mechanics and forgiving motion controls mean its accessible for players of many different abilities and styles.

While the five games in Racquet Sports roughly parallel each other, some come out a little bit better. For example, the Ping-pong game might be seen as fun in isolation, but the version of it seen in Sony's own Sports Champions pack-in disc is much better overall, with increased accuracy and realism in terms of control making for a superior experience. Things get a bit better when you play the game's two tennis matches, which allow you to play on a variety of locations throughout the world and offer a decent, though not spectacular set of courts to play on. While the motion controls are decent in the tennis games, we found that they lacked a little bit of the accuracy that standard tennis titles implementing standard controllers usually offer. Badminton is a slightly different style of basic tennis where you have to keep the shuttle thing aloft throughout, but doesn't have as many rules, which makes for a slightly less challenging game. Squash is an odd inclusion on the disc and its one-on-one play can be interesting but the limited court size and close-in combat makes it feel less balanced than the other games. Like many mini-game titles on the market, this release feels a little uneven in terms of quality. You can blow through most of the game very quickly and even its extra party mode feels tacked-on and doesn't really extend the title's replay value that much.

Ubisoft has done a disappointing job in translating Racquet Sports. It definitely has the feel of a Wii title, with very little effort spent to optimize it for the Move. While Racquet Sports is fun and accessible, its also a bit shallow and superficial. The simplistic visuals don't look that impressive on the PS3 and brings to mind the Wii, which is a bit disappointing. Its multiple modes of play are fun, but the mini-games don't offer much beyond what you'd expect. Racquet Sports' flaws can be mitigated somewhat by its low price, which leads to lower expectations. It's interesting to see the contrast between Sony's Sports Champions and this title. Sony put a lot of production value into their launch title, while Ubisoft seems to have put in just-enough effort to get this out the door. It doesn't play with the same level of sophistication as Sports Champions and instead feels very quick and superficial. Racquet Sports doesn't aim nearly as high and instead aims for the mediocre center. Not surprisingly, this exactly is where the title ends up. By offering a basic set of straightforward tennis-type games and little else, there's really not much that's unexpected.

- Michael Palisano  

Grade: C

Related Reviews 

Kung Fu Rider (PS3)

PlayStation Move