Historically, sports like volleyball, tennis and badminton often fail to translate to the video game screen well, and Power Spike Pro Beach Volleyball is no exception. Diehard fans of the beach sport may be enthralled, but most gamers will shake this poor effort loose like sand out of a bathing suit. Power Spike Pro Beach Volleyball is graphically inferior to other sports games released in 2000 and 2001, the sound is awful, and gameplay is confusing.
The first easily noticeable major flaw is the incredibly slow loading time, which is followed by a poorly edited highlight reel of volleyball stars spiking each other and fans mugging for the camera. The video is a gigantic Windows AVI file that takes up nearly a quarter of the hard drive space required for installation. Pressing the escape button to bypass the video will often cause the PC to freeze.
The unpredictable user interface further diminishes any enjoyment the game might have. The default keyboard controls for player number one are laid out with action buttons on the number pad and movement relegated to the keyboard arrows. While this might be fine for the 13 percent of the world's left-handed population, most gamers will want to change the layout, or, at the very least, get some distance between the two hands. Joystick and gamepad users have an entirely different set of problems trying to control the jerky movements of the small characters on the screen.
Regardless of what controller you use, be prepared for a world of confusion. The manually is absolutely useless in terms of what controls perform what actions, how to set up a spike with a computer-controlled teammate, or exactly how to aim serves to get them over the net. Action becomes a bit easier with practice, but luck plays a much bigger role in winning than does skill or finesse.
Power Spike Pro Beach Volleyball has a few brief flashes of fun but no sustained action. Fanatics of the sport may keep it for awhile, but most gamers will recapture the hard disk space as quickly as possible.
Graphics: Shirtless guys and women in bikinis are essentially featureless. There is little detail in the background scenery, and even though the game claims to require some hardware acceleration, graphics are extremely weak.
Sound: The sound is forgettable, unimportant and irrelevant. Players grunt, sand swishes, and the occasional whistle tweets -- none of which add anything to gameplay.
Enjoyment: There are flashes of fun, but any enjoyment is short lived. Gameplay is confusing and difficult.
Replay Value: There's no point in finding the hidden beaches since gameplay remains poor throughout.
Power Spike Pro Beach Volleyball is a decent beach volleyball game from French developer Carapace that has all the bells and whistles and official endorsement of a sport association, but unfortunately none of the charm or personality of EA's classic Kings of the Beach.
Power Spike features beach pro star Gabby Reece (Olympic gold medalist) along with 45 other fully licensed male and female volleyball players from the Federation of International Volleyball. Special moves such as digging, spinning, setting, blocking, and spiking are all included in the game, as are real-world beach courses that span the globe. In addition to exhibition and tournament play, you can practice different moves in practice mode. The interface is easy to learn: one key handles most actions, including serving, setting, spiking and bumping, while other keys let you pull blocks and power spikes. There are 3 difficulty levels: amateur, advanced, and pro. The computer at pro level plays a mean game of volleyball, so you must have good reflexes and precision to win at this level.
While it is a good game that simulates a sport that has not seen many computer adaptations, Power Spike ultimately lacks variety and longevity to maintain anyone's interest for long. The action boils down to bump, set, spike, defend if necessary, and repeat ad nauseum. The controls, while easy to learn, don't allow for enough control over the players to really involve you in the game, because it limits you only to determine the "trigger point" for a spike or other moves. Whether your player dives, stands, and rolls is entirely determined by the computer. In contrast to the memorable different playing styles and personalities of the opponents in Kings of the Beach, the computer-controlled teams in Power Spike all look like clones of each other.
Overall, Power Spike is a competent game that ultimately offers low replay or long-term play value due to its bland treatment of the sport. Worth a look if you are interested in a beach volleyball game (which is very few and far between) with modern pizzazz. But for sheer playability and fun, you would be better off replaying EA's Kings of the Beach.
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