Outlaw Volleyball Xbox
by TDK Mediactive
Developed by Hypnotix Inc.
Released: Out Now
Volleyball must be a really popular sport because this is about the fourth volleyball title to be released in the last year. Beach Spikers was indeed a very good game and one that I still occasionally play. Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball however hardly contained any volleyball and what was there was really poor. Anyway now we have Outlaw Volleyball which is the second Outlaw game following Outlaw Golf. All the original, dysfunctional gang are back and this time they've been joined by some even wackier characters but the hard hitting, and definitely mature attitude remains and this is like no other volleyball game that you've seen or played before.
Outlaw Volleyball has a variety of modes for you to play. You have the standard exhibition match, random play (where the characters are chosen for you), tour mode, drills, tutorials and Xbox Live play. Tour mode is the real meat of the single player game and there are an absolute load of tours for you to play through. You could spend a few months just playing through tournaments on offer. Of course you're going to want to use a skilled player to play through these tours but unfortunately the characters that you have available are not very talented. Fortunately though you can upgrade their skills (which are broken up into power, speed, offense and defence) by using them in the drills mode. The drills mode contains a sack load of mini-games for you to complete. Each one that is successfully completed will give you points to enhance your player's abilities. The more drills you complete the more skilled your player will become. In some ways it's a pity you can't create your own player especially as you have the facility to build up their skills.
Eventually you're going to want to take the game online. Thankfully Outlaw Volleyball has full support for Xbox Live and you'll be able to create a game of your choosing or search for available games that suit the style you wish to play via the Optimatch mode. You can even jump straight into a Quick Match if you're not fussed about how the game is setup. There is also an option to download extra content although at the time of writing there was no downloadable content available. Xbox Live support adds longevity to the title and you can even monitor your progress on the rankings table as it shows you how each of the players are progressing.
The gameplay in Outlaw Volleyball couldn't be simpler. In single player mode you'll control one member of your team, although you can switch players at any time by pressing the left trigger. A red target denotes the position the ball will land and you have to get your player to that position to successfully hit the ball. The 'A' or 'X' button can be used to spike the ball and 'B' button can also be used to hit the ball. Whilst you hold down any of the three aforementioned buttons you can direct the position of the shot by moving the left analogue stick (which also controls the movement of the players). As you play well you'll increase momentum. Momentum allows you to pull off special turbo moves. You can run extra quick or perform turbo spikes. To make a move or short 'turbo' you simply hold down the right trigger in addition to your normal button presses. Finally, and it is optional, there is the fighting. If you want to reduce the momentum of the opposition you can press the white button to begin fighting. You choose a member of the opposing team and duke it out until one of you wins. Personally I turned the fighting off to concentrate on the Volleyball but it's there if you want it and it's a good way of restoring momentum (assuming you win the fight) if you're not playing well.
Graphically Outlaw Volleyball doesn't push the Xbox in any way but it does look good and remains constantly smooth throughout. The characters look and animate quite well too. The games locations are about as varied as you could possibly get. You'll play in the sewers, a prison, on the beach and many other wacky locations. There aren't a plethora of camera angles here but the default camera angle is just right right and allows you to plan and aim your shots just right.
Whilst Outlaw Volleyball plays a good game of volleyball it's not perfect for deaf gamers. All of the characters reactions and game introductions are not subtitled thus making these rude comments pointless for deaf gamers. The tutorials are not subtitled either and only the basic rules section has some text as the rules are shown one by one on a notepad. Thankfully though all of the information in the drills mode is shown in text so you'll have no problems there. The actual gameplay isn't affected by the lack of subtitles for the player comments and commentator, but just be careful that no young hearing people are around when you play as the game can be rather rude with the comments (it is a 16+ rated game after all).
Outlaw Volleyball isn't perfect (the AI has a problem getting the ball over the net at times during an exhibition game) but despite some niggles the gameplay on offer is solid and will keep you busy for a long time. The addition of Xbox Live support adds longevity to an already substantial single player game. If you're looking for a volleyball title for your Xbox (and assuming you're old enough and like the mature theme of the game) then this is the best one to date on the console.
Game Rating: 8.0/10
A mature and slightly violent take on Volleyball but nevertheless the gameplay is very good and has an impressive single player game and Xbox Live support too.
Deaf gamers won't get the full mature experience of Outlaw Volleyball. There are no subtitles but the drills mode is delivered via text.