Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 07/09/03 | Genre: Sports
Okay, lets get something out in the open, Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball was a complete disaster. Sure it had nice graphics and... um... physics... but the gameplay was non-existent. It was fun to see girls make use of the great physics engine by "bouncing" over pools of water and posing for conversations during volleyball matches. However, if the developers had only put a little more thought into the gameplay, DoA Volleyball could have been a great title. To fill the void that exists in the volleyball genre, Simon and Schuster enlisted the help of Developer Hypnotix to once again make a fun, while sometimes a bit vulgar, Outlaw game. This time, instead of using Golf, they are invading volleyball courts. While it isn't perfect, the game is much more enjoyable than the DoA version was.
Visually, Outlaw Volleyball looks good. The biggest draw to DoA Volleyball were the realistic females. While the graphics are not quite as good in Outlaw Volley, they are pretty close. Each of the characters in the game have their own unique personality. This was one of the biggest draws to Outlaw Golf and while the characters don't return from the original, they have just as much personality to them. One of the characters, Lycra, wears skintight clothing (if you consider what she wears to be clothing) and "jiggles" more than a DoA girl could ever imagine. Of course, she isn't the only one who isn't wearing much. One of the men features a banana thong outfit that is just a little too disturbing for my tastes. Not all of the characters have sexual innuendos. But the large majority of them do. It is part of the humor within the Outlaw games. Personally, I would prefer to have some cleaner characters in there and stay away from all of the sexual references. However, I am sure I am in the minority when I say this, as most teenage and early 20 males will love every second of this.
Unlike DoA Volleyball, there is an actual volleyball engine in here that consists of much deeper gameplay. To help understand everything better, players can choose to participate in a tutorial that will train you in serving, bumping, spiking, and blocking, and other skills you need. Players can also increase the performance of their characters by going the drill mode. There, you will need to complete a variety of tasks in order to increase your skills. It is a small touch, but does give you some practice and help add a bit more replay to the game.
Speaking of replay value, those who subscribe to Xbox Live will be in for a treat. Not only is there downloadable content available to players, but you can play online against others. Hopefully this is a sign that more and more Xbox games will feature Xbox Live online play. The service is by far the biggest feature the Xbox has and the online gameplay is usually much more impressive than anything Sony has put out so far. Mainly this is due to Microsoft maintaining the servers for all the games--where Sony leaves that up to the individual publishers.
Outlaw Volleyball features a full soundtrack with licensed hip-hop, pop-punk, and techno songs. You can also grab your favorite tunes, save them to your Xbox Hard Drive, and listen to them in the game if you wish. Also, besides the music, Steve Carell, from Comedy Central's The Daily Show, returns in his role as the announcer. While he is a bit annoying with his constant "dad jokes," he adds a lot of personality to the game and you will enjoy listening to him for a while. In the next Outlaw game, I would like to see Carell have even more lines to add a bit more variety. It is a shame that after several times through the game, you have heard everything he has to say. This is a small complaint and it could be said regarding any sports game.
Overall, Outlaw Volleyball is the best volleyball game I have seen in quite some time. While it is not perfect and I do not particular care for the humor, if you are looking for a volleyball game, this is probably the one to get. Online play, downloadable content, customizable music, fast gameplay, unlockable characters, and over 10 courts make this game one to recommend. However, because of the humor, I would only recommend this title to a slightly older gamer. The younger players don't need to be exposed to this one.