Beach Spikers Review Summoner 2 - sequel to one of the top-selling role-playing adventures on PlayStation 2  @ www.contactmusic.com
Beach Spikers Review

Beach Spikers is an all female beach volleyball game made by the people who brought us Virtua Fighter. The games focus on lovely ladies in bikinis may seem a bit voyeuristic, but beach spikers manages to deliver the goods with impressive visuals and some great and intuitive, fast game play.

Players familiar with Virtua Tennis should have no problems adapting to the controls of Beach Spikers, which uses the Control Stick with the A and B buttons for all of its controls. Generally the A button is used for regular shost and the B button is used for weaker more tactical shots like feints. Using the combination of both buttons will produce a special high-powered shot. The analogue stick is used for general movement of the player as well as directing your shots. Overall there are no problems with the controls and they are simple enough for novice players to pick up and play without any fuss, they are also in depth enough to make the game sufficiently satisfying for more advanced players.

Beach Spikers consists of three main game-play modes, which include arcade, world tour and versus. The arcade mode let's you select from any of the 16 international teams and take part in an 8-team competition, which starts at the quarterfinals stage. Beach Spikers has overcome any problems incurred when playing a single player game. Instead of manually switching between your two players, Beach Spikers does it for you, when the ball is approaching from the other side of the court, the player that is closest to the incoming ball will be selected automatically. The computer picks the correct player 99 times out of 100 and on the whole it works very well.

Beach Spikers Review @ www.contactmusic.com
Beach Spikers Review @ www.contactmusic.com
Beach Spikers Review @ www.contactmusic.com
The world tour has you creating a two woman team using an impressive array of hairstyles, faces, sunglasses and outfits. After creating your team you will then be thrown into a series of tournaments. Where as in the arcade mode your players are selected for you, in the world tour mode you will only have control of one player while the computer controls the second player. When starting out the computer controlled player is terrible and non-effective in anything that she does. So you will loose your first few games but at the same time you will build experience points that can be applied to your partner's different skills, such as serving, blocking and returning. You will also be asked to praise and encourage your partner based on her performance through the game. Your team work rate will rise and fall depending on how your partner reacts to your input. This may sound quite bizarre but it is also quite satisfying to see you partner start from the level of a useless ass and advance to possibly surpass your own skill level.

In versus mode, you're given the choice of playing a regular match or three different mini games. Beach Flags has you smashing the A button, Commodore 64 track and field style, in order to sprint down the beach to grab the flag before your opponent does. Beach Countdown features a bomb with a burning fuse instead of volleyball. Players must volley the bomb back and forth until the fuse runs out or one of the teams drops the bomb. Beach PK is a basic spike and return competition. With the support for up to four players, a regular match can prove very entertaining but the mini games aren't really that much fun.

Beach Spikers is graphically fantastic, the player models look great and their animation is very natural and convincing. The lighting has been implemented very well giving sharp definitions to all the shadows on the court. Another nice touch is the sand; the nicely raked court will show depressions from the impact of the players as the match progresses. Another thing worth mentioning is the camera, Beach Spikers features a dynamic camera that constantly moves around the court to give the perspective on the action and most of the time it does a great job and it completely eliminates any back court perspective issues that tend to bug most tennis games. Occasionally though you will not be able to see your side of the court at all, this will force you to use the mini map at the bottom of the screen.

The worst thing about Beach Spikers is the sound and typical to quite a lot of Sega's titles the sound track features too many synthesisers and crappy electric guitars although, the sound track is not as bad as the wailing sound track from Daytona.
The in-games sounds are generally good, although when you hit the ball at full power the noise is slightly hollow sounding. The worst aspect of the in games sound is the announcer who announces each menu item you select and in game he will comment on every single shot, with only a handful of phrases at his disposal this can become rather irritating. The only way to shut up the announcer is to turn off all the in game sounds effects there is no way to just isolate the announcer, which is unfortunate.

Women's beach volleyball does not sound like an interesting game, if you saw this title on the shelf of your local store and didn't know anything about it you would probably stay well clear, but you would be wrong to. AM2 has been able to translate the sport into something that's loads of fun to play, I would even go as far as saying it is almost as enjoyable to play as Virtua Tennis. Beach Spikers is enjoyable enough to warrant the attention of any player looking for some fun and fast arcade action. Great!

8.5 Out of 10


 



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