Sports like tennis, squash, and badminton seem like they should be a great fit for Sony's new PlayStation Move hardware. Holding the motion controller isn't wholly unlike holding a racket, and the act of swinging said controller could hardly be more straightforward. Sports Champions uses the Move motion controller really well in its table tennis game, but Racquet Sports, sadly, does not. Rather than afford you complete control by having onscreen players' movements exactly correspond to your own, this collection of five very similar sports relies on gestures that trigger canned animations after a brief but noticeable delay. Racquet Sports isn't unplayable by any means, but it's also not much fun, and it completely misses the point where Move is concerned.
6276277NoneYou know what would make this game of tennis better? An invisible ball...
All five of the sports featured (badminton, beach tennis, table tennis, squash, and tennis) play in much the same way. There are different rules, of course, but aside from a couple of different actions that are mapped to the Move button, the controls barely change from one sport to the next. Both basic and advanced control options are available for each sport, but although the latter is more challenging and adds some powerful shots to your repertoire, neither works well. Racquet Sports doesn't have any problem differentiating forehand and backhand swings, but it's hit and miss when it comes to the strength of your shots, and directing your shots isn't nearly as easy or as intuitive as it should be. As a result, overly long rallies of predictable shots are commonplace, and because players run around on their own (how you hold your controller has some impact on their speed when using advanced controls, but that's it), they're almost never out of position. It's not even possible to hit the ball out during a game of tennis or badminton unless you hold down the trigger button to try a risky shot in advanced mode.
Racquet Sports' training options are limited to text instructions and a minigame that challenges you to return serves to highlighted areas of the court or table that you're playing on. The minigame does a decent job of familiarizing you with the controls, but it also highlights how imprecise they are. Even returning five accurate shots in a row--which is all that's required to add an extra character to the starting roster of 10--can be tricky depending on where your targets appear. Characters differ in appearance only and can be customized with a modest selection of unlockable outfits, hairstyles, and rackets that you earn quickly regardless of which mode you're playing.
If you're playing alone, you can compete against the AI in exhibition matches or, if you're looking for a longer-lasting challenge, in the Career mode that pits you against increasingly tough opponents as you move from amateur to professional leagues. You can also play Party mode solo with three AI opponents, though this mode in which the sport, some of its rules (invisible tennis balls, anyone?), and your doubles partner change for every match is definitely more tolerable if you can convince some friends to join you. Locally, you can also set up tournaments and championships, and then once your friends have decided that they don't want to play (or perhaps even be friends) with you anymore, you can look for someone to play with online. Both friendly and ranked matches are available, and you can bring a friend with you if you're looking to play doubles. The online play works well enough with no discernible lag, but it's not much fun because it suffers from all of the same problems that regular play does.
Racquet Sports' presentation fares a little better than its gameplay, at least visually. The cartoony characters look decent enough, and some of the varied environments that they play in are quite picturesque. The audio is underwhelming though, and the noise that the crowd makes anytime it starts chanting your name is especially grating. The crowd noise would be even more annoying if this were a game that you wanted to spend hours at a time with, but Racquet Sports definitely isn't that. It fails to take advantage of the Move hardware and offers only frustrating imitations of sports that you might know and love. Even if you're playing on your own, you're better off investing in a racket and a ball.