Spike Volleyball is £50 on PSN. Look, I can prove it.
This escalates the expectation, right? For fifty pounds sterling you’d akin the experience of Spike Volleyball to NBA 2K19 or FIFA. For FIFTY POUNDS (did you get that?) I’d expect Spike Volleyball to at least have an absolute rock solid USP, something that makes it absolutely worth the price tag. It should resonate with people outside of the hardcore volleyball aficionado, be a leader in its field and I’d demand an experience that I could shout from the rooftops about. If it’s selling at a AAA price, it should damn sure play like one. Because it’s £50.
Except, it doesn’t. Not even a little bit. It’s a fools errand to expect greatness from Spike Volleyball. To say that it’s not worth the asking price is about as obvious as stating like, something really obvious.
I should stress now that I don’t even think it’s the fault of the developers. Black Sheep Studio have almost certainly created something that they felt was good enough given the budget available, clearly not enough to see through their vision for the game. So, I’m gonna start with what I liked about Spike Volleyball, because underneath the abhorrent asking price, there may just be something that could be salvaged in future iterations. Should that ever be a possibility.
The gameplay as a whole, isn’t all that bad. As the ball is about to reach your player (with an animation that isn’t synced to the ball’s connection), you hit X and the ball is hit up in the air towards the net or across to another player on your team. You’ll have a small window of time to choose where you’d like the ball to go, heading it towards an attacker that’ll smash the ball over the net, or ‘spike’ it is fun and frantic. See, that’s where the title comes from.
Attacking can be fun then, the defending however feels awkward and very ‘hope for the best’. You don’t feel like you have much control over the formation, even if you do have the option to place players where you’d like them. Regardless, you’re putting them in spots with no real idea if it’ll work. This is a common recurrence throughout the game, papering over the cracks and the lack of content to such an extent that it becomes a little too obvious. You’ve got your exhibition matches, weekly challenges (in return for in-game currency) and a career option where you can manage a team of either men or women. There are some neat options like being able to personalise your teams logo and colours and use an agent to scout new players and take them to the almighty…volleyball world championships? The game also doesn’t include official licenses, something I actually expected of the game, given the price. Fans of the sport are going to feel short-changed.
Online, well it’s a shame. I could only get one game and it ran well enough, though the lag with the person I played with made the ball difficult to follow.
Whilst the stadiums are designed well, and create a genuine atmosphere, the players are identical in appearance, with matching faces on opposite teams. There are some rather major animation issues, which are only exacerbated in the included action replays – seriously, they should have never been an option -, the physics of the ball can sometimes be quite magical, especially when you attempt to hit the ball one way and then it, miraculously, goes the opposite direction. The ball never hits the players hand. Not once. If for some reason you buy this game, just have a look. It’s baffling.
So this is game that had some lofty ideas of what it could have been and delivered a broken slodge of a simulator, devoid of anything that can be considered worthy of its utterly disgraceful price-tag. It’s clear the developers did what they could with a seemingly small budget and little time but this just isn’t good enough.
And it’s £50.
Spike Volleyball is available now on Xbox One, PS4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro) and PC.
Developer: Black Sheep Studio
Publisher: Big Ben Interactive
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review we were provided with a review copy from the publishers. For our full review policy please go here.
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