STAFF REVIEW of Outlaw Volleyball (Xbox)

Monday, July 21, 2003.
by BigJosh359

Outlaw Volleyball Box art Outlaw fans have been waiting for the next installment from the Outlaw franchise and it?s back with a bigger set of balls in the form of Outlaw Volleyball. Outlaw Volleyball is nothing like Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball, except for the Volleyball part. Hypnotix actually made the attempt to make a decent Volleyball game instead of Tecmo's successful blunder in cashing in on half-naked characters and boob-bouncing. Hypnotix succeeded in their attempt and Outlaw fans will not be disappointed. With great eye candy, decent game play, fairly good soundtrack, Xbox Live (we love games that are XBL and will have downloadable content), and Summer in skimpy swimwear with some new and old friends, Outlaw Volleyball will surely keep you entertained for most of the summer and beyond.

First off, let me say that if you played a lot of Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, prepare for a reality check when you start to play OV. The controls are NOTHING like DOA: XBV. There is a non-interactive tutorial you can watch and listen to for all the controls, but you can't practice the controls till you get to the drills or start an exhibition. Drills are to help you understand and help build up your skills needed to play this game. Most of the drills are locked to start with which means you can't practice but so much to start with. The drills are mainly aimed at developing your character so they can have better offense, Defense, speed, and power. In exhibition mode you are playing against the easiest levels of AI opponents so that you can learn the controls and practice timing. The controls will be frustrating to learn off the bat, but you will soon learn that everything is pretty smooth when you get used to it. Multi-tasking is a must in this game. While you are trying to hit the ball, you have to aim the ball and keep an eye on your spike meter while watching where and what your opponents are going to do in response to whatever you are going to do. It might sound a little tough, but after a few volleys, you really start to get into the game.

With Exhibition mode, you can customize your game to any of the modes you are going to be playing on Tour mode. There are 3 modes of play; Classic, Hot Potato, and Casino. With classic, you play plain old volleyball with a certain point total to win and a certain match total to win with standard rules. Hot Potato is interesting and sometimes tricky. You play regular volleyball, but a counter is counting down. The object is to keep the ball on your opponent?s side of the net. Of course you can still get points by siding out or if the ball touches the ground before time is up. If the ball is still being volleyed when time runs out, then the ball explodes and which ever side the ball explodes on, the opponents gets the points. The timer doesn?t always count down at the same speed each point. Casino is an odd mode. The team with the most money wins the match, no matter what the score. That sounds odd, I know, but the longer the volley goes, the more money that goes in to the pot. So serving Aces or scoring quickly doesn't mean you will win the match. And of course you can change settings for the games, like match wins, score wins, Timers, difficulty, and Time bombs. Time bombs are created when the ball is dropped. When the bomb goes off and you are near it, you will get thrown around a little bit and have to recover to continue playing the game.

Tour mode is the heart of the game with 50 events and a ton of unlockables. This is also where you start with the crappiest skilled characters of the game. You play the drills to improve your characters class and attributes. Each event has its own game settings like timers, bombs, hot potato and casino. The farther you go in the Tour, the more you unlock. Whatever you unlock and whatever changes in attributes you made to your characters will be available to you on Xbox Live. Yes Xbox Live, we all love games that are on Xbox Live. 2 players can play at a time on one Xbox with OV on XBL. The best is of course the future content downloads of new characters and courts and I'm sure they will add to the list. But what is an Outlaw game without a little ass whooping? With the Outlaw Golf series, you could only beat up on your caddy, which was still fun. You still earn beating tokens with Outlaw Volleyball and still fight, but this time, you can fight your opponents. You start the beating by picking one of your two opponents. Let the ass whooping commence. Hypnotix actually incorporated a half ass fighting system. It's not DOA 3 or Mortal Kombat, but it's a real interesting twist to a volleyball game. Characters can punch, kick, block, and pull of a special move. You can only move from left to right and the fighting is nothing really special. However, momentum from the current game does affect the fighter?s power behind their hits. The winner steals momentum and the loser, well, loses their momentum. Momentum is used as your turbo regeneration. The more momentum you have, the faster your moment regenerates. When using your turbo during the game, you run faster or do power serves and spikes.

Graphically, the Outlaw environment shines in this game. All venues look superb with their unique and some times funny styles. The crowds are not 2D cardboard cut outs!! Just like in Outlaw Golf, the crowds have a 3D shape to them. There are many different camera angles for optimal action. So anyone should be able to be as close or as far from the action as they want to be. But when Summer is on the court, close is better. Each Player has a couple of his or her own unique reactions for good or bad plays. But they also recycle many of the same amongst each other.

All the characters look better than ever with small details like tongue and ear rings distinctly shown. Tan lines on Summer look very real, but I'm more surprised that she would actually have tan lines. That doesn't sound like the Summer I know. There where some FPS slowness when players would pull off some of their special moves, but nothing to hinder gameplay. And now the boobs. They move a little awkwardly. The chest doesn't sway around, just 3/4 of the boobs. They either look really fake at times or you?re hypnotized by their effect. Boobs. Summer. Did I mention Summer's Tan lines?

The Daily Show's, Steve Carel, once again cracks us up with his hysterical commentary. The laughs will keep coming for a while, but as with all games it gets repetitive after a while, so be warned! All the players are mocking each other and communicating with their team mates during the games, which adds a slight bit of realism but again, it gets repetitive. Crowd reactions are minimal but humorous at times with some good one liners. The soundtrack is gold. This has to be one of the best sound tracks for any game on the Xbox. OV features the breakthrough band Diffuser and their single "Get it On". The soundtrack has a good variety of songs for Rock to Rap. When the soundtrack does get old, you can always customize the tracks, another great bonus for any game.

This is a solid game and there is little to suggest to Hypnotix. Improved fighting engine with more moves and unique special moves would make the gameplay that much better. The fighting looks and feels like Bikini Karate Babes, imho. Also might consider letting your player kick both opponents asses at once. Interactive Tutorial mode would help new players pick up on the game a lot faster. Fix the boob issue; it doesn't look real enough to me. Maybe add little butt jiggling action. Full camera control with player reaction I think would add a little more rise to the game. More unique player reactions are a must. More commentary by Steve Carel, we just can't get enough of him. Trixie? Where is Trixie from Outlaw Golf? I love her school girl look. Make her the first Xbox Live Download. I think I wouldn't mind the option of Summer with different skin tones. Tan lines or no tan lines. Last Suggestion, Outlaw Volleyball 2 or maybe Outlaw Football, Basketball, Baseball. Maybe Summer should get her own ass kicking game. More Summer!

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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