Outlaw Volleyball

a game by Simon & Schuster
Platform: XBox
Editor Rating: 8/10, based on 1 review
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The best playing volleyball game to date has finally arrived and brought some of that "outlaw" attitude with it. The team that introduced fighting to the Links in Outlaw Golf, has moved off the fairway and into the sand. If you tried Outlaw Golf and found the over-the-top characters and atmosphere too much to handle, you are going to hate Outlaw Volleyball because it ratchets everything up 2 notches. Fortunately, if you enjoyed Golf, you will really enjoy Volleyball.

As I mentioned before, this game is the best playing volleyball game you will find on the market. It is easy enough to pick up and start playing, yet requires skill to master. Bumps, sets, spikes and lobs are all easily executed, putting the onus on the player to worry about power, location and accuracy. Each character has set attributes and in most instances, reacts accordingly. The only exception to this, and one of my two complaints with this game, is that the AI controlled characters seem to have an uncanny ability to dive superhuman distances to save a spike and still get enough loft on the ball to allow their partner to race over and return the ball over the net. Believe me; there is nothing worse than making a perfect spike towards the back line only to have your opponent make an impossible save. This will happen with regularity, and frustration is bound to occur.

The other volleyball game on Xbox, DOA Xtreme Volleyball, was criticized for not containing enough volleyball, rather the focus seem more on becoming personal with the characters. Outlaw Volleyball also places great emphasis on the 16 characters in the game, yet not at the expense of the volleyball action. They did a great job giving the characters distinct, albeit stereotypical, personalities that come out during the gameplay, not in place of it. You will find yourself latching on to your personal favorites and advancing with them throughout the game.

Before I go into my second complaint, there are a few other items that round out the package worth mentioning. First off, the commentary during the matches are laugh out loud funny until they start to get repetitive, at which time you can turn them off. Secondly, there are a number of great mini games, called skill challenges, which help break up the action and allow for you to advance your characters stats. Finally, the game uses a unique momentum system that allows for super-shots that are very difficult to return. The momentum meter goes up by either making a good play or challenging another character to a fight and winning.

And finally, my biggest complaint'the game features Live! play, which is the primary reason my interest level was so high before this game was released. I had visions of myself and three other buddies squaring off, talking trash into the early morning hours. As it turns out, you are restricted to only the ability to connect two Xboxes! This means that the only way to play four players over Live! is to have two people at each location. Talk about disappointing. Granted, the head-to-head play is fun and virtually glitch free, but I just could not help feeling cheated once I found out there would never be true two-on-two Live! games.

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