Outlaw Volleyball is a solid gaming experience despite its immediate flaws. If you’re able forgive the minor annoyances, then Outlaw Volleyball’s online play (while thin) most likely makes it your best bet when it comes to buying a volleyball title.
Right from the start you get the uncanny feeling that Outlaw Volleyball is aiming high, and it wants desperately to grip the stars of fame that sit comfortably in the skies. Unfortunately, It doesn’t quite make it there, but It’s the kind of reach that gets an ‘A’ for effort, well, more likely a ‘B’.
Granted, the developers are generally new to this field of gaming, and Outlaw Volleyball is another step forward in their progress. It’s hard to explain why this game falls so minutely short in a lot of aspects, though. If Hypnotix had concentrated on the core gameplay instead of the lackluster, lame humor and sexual innuendo, then Outlaw Volleyball could easily have been so much better.
Outlaw Volleyball has a couple of modes to select from that have been done before, but when it comes to a seemingly mundane sport like volleyball, it’s hard to spice up the amount of modes and rules you get to choose from. The standard tour mode is available, which gives you the opportunity to tour the courts with a pair of players. Each court you visit has five ‘missions’ attached to it, which basically means defeating another pair of players in a set amount of games with different rule settings for each one. Going through the tour mode is a way for you to unlock various characters and items in the game. There’s actually a pretty good amount to unlock, which will keep you busy for a bit longer than a normal volleyball game generally would. The unlockables include a variety of articles of clothing, characters, and courts. Exhibition mode is also available, as one would expect, and such a mode doesn’t break any new ground–but then it wasn’t meant to. It serves as your basic multiplayer romp, which can be pretty fun given the various rule settings that are within the game. The side-out rule, which allows points to be given only when the serving team scores, and if the serving team doesn’t score, then the serve is switched and the score remains the same. Casino rules, which allows a pot of money to build during the volleys, and the winner of the point gets the cash allowing the cash to pile up. Your basic rally point rules are also available, which allows for points to be scored no matter the serve. One of the more quirky rule settings would be Hot Potato, which has been present in a few other volleyball titles. A timer is given on the ball, and if it’s on a particular side when the timer is up the ball will explode. This, of course, is a bad thing. Drills, which is more like a mini-game mode, allows you to build up your characters statistics after completing them. Harder drills are unlocked via the tour mode.
With all that said, though, is trudging through the game going to be pretty and, more importantly, worth it? Well, in many ways it is. Outlaw Volleyball doesn’t display any supreme graphical prowess but it more than gets the job done. The character models are smooth and pretty well realized, as are their motions. Minor things, like footprints in the sand are impressive, but the courts aren’t exactly the most detailed and lush environments. Thus, you probably won’t be entirely too picky over which court you prefer to play in. The voice acting is few and far between aside from the introductions and rudimentary player responses that are rather repetitive and boring after a while. In any respect, though, the voices are still quite satisfactory and don’t drag you down completely. Steve Carrell, of The Daily Show, does a great job at performing his lines, but the dialogue he has to resight is nothing short of abysmal. It’s so lame, humorless, and childish that it borders on the sickening. He should have been allowed to write his own material, or better writers should have been brought in–it’s such an obvious waste of his talent.
Online play is a key feature, but the amount of people currently playing Outlaw Volleyball online is rather meagre, and even when you do locate a game they often experience hiccups too frequently for gaming comfort. In the rare case that you do get a smooth running game, it’s actually quite enjoyable, though. This, coupled with the rip-your-own-soundtrack feature are blessings for this game, and while it would have been a decent game without these features, they just make it that much better.
There’s not much to keep you going longterm in Outlaw Volleyball, besides Xbox Live compatibility that is. It doesn’t succeed on a few levels, but it’s a good entry into the Volleyball gaming genre, and for the first Xbox Live title of its kind, it delivers exactly what it was supposed to. If you have friends that are into the sporting world, and competition, then Outlaw Volleyball will be a solid buy for you.