There is pretty much a video game for every major sport. On the other hand, there has never been a game realistically based around the sport of volleyball. Perhaps things should have stayed that way. In all fairness to Spike Volleyball, there are quite a lot of modes to get sucked into and a lot of teams to play the game with, over 50 men’s and women’s national teams, in fact. There is also a great little touch by allowing you to create your own team when you go into online seasons. Spike Volleyball allows you to make your own logo and strip, and this feature is also in the single-player campaign.
Being brutally honest, that is all this game has going for it. Let us start with how the game looks. It looks genuinely terrible. This game would not look out of place on the PlayStation 2 or, at best, an early Xbox 360 title. All the different stadiums look pretty similar but with different colour schemes and different logos emblazoned around the courts, though there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. The players look terrible and all very generic (this all comes from a lack of licensing for the real world players). The menus are also very generic and uninspired.
Furthermore, the animations are dreadful. There are moments when the game will zoom in on a play, which you would think would be a feature used to show something off, but instead it highlights the game’s shortcomings even more. I have seen shots being played with the player’s elbows, shoulders and foreheads taking up the screen. When a team blocks the ball, the ball takes on a life of its own as it could end up absolutely anywhere. Players will line up a shot and then either forget to hit the ball or just punt it in any direction they fancy. I can’t stress enough how bad the animations are in this game.
The gameplay itself is horrifically boring. There are three types of serves, which in themselves are pointless. I hit perfect serves of each, and I rarely got an ace. It was when I made a mistake and hit a shank serve that I would get an ace. The shots all play out the same way: Knock it up to a teammate and then hit an underwhelming shot to the opposition, and it just continues from there.
The different modes are also very mundane and terrible. The career mode tries to give the illusion that there is more to it by giving you what is essentially just busy work. For example, they give you agents to help you scout for new players, but it is really boring. You play in exhibition matches, and there are weekly challenges, but it is all beyond tiresome. There is also a problem with the commentary. For one, it happens very infrequently as there is no commentary whilst the game is on, it only happens at the end of the match. Even when the commentators say something, it sounds like automated voice recordings where the only part of the dialogue that changes is the name of the team they’re talking about.
Finally online play, or the lack thereof. On release day, it took over thirty minutes to find a match. Even when I eventually did find a match, the gameplay got even worse with the terrible lag that was apparent in every single match that I played. I quickly gave up as it became too cumbersome to play.
All in all, Spike Volleyball will be under a fiver in a matter of weeks as it is genuinely terrible. This is up there with one of the worst games I have ever played. I could not delete this game off of my Xbox storage quick enough. Everything about this game is horrific and shows that it has been made on a Poundland budget. The game commits the three mortal sins in gaming by being boring, frustrating and ugly. Avoid at all costs.
Developer: Black Sheep Studio
Publisher: Bigben Interactive
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Release Date: 5th February 2019