Summer Heat Beach Volleyball


posted 7/29/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
I can enjoy food again and I owe it all to Acclaim and its newest PS2 title, Summer Heat Beach Volleyball. Not because of the beautiful ladies or because of the visions of Mai Tais and Coconuts running through my head, quite the contrary. My taste buds are functional again because the solid and addictive gameplay have helped the wash the bitter taste that Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball left in my mouth earlier this year.

Instead of designing a collection-based game masquerading as a beach volleyball game, Acclaim instead opted to do the unthinkable and actually develop a game that looks, plays and feels like actual beach volleyball. Comparisons to DOAXVB will now cease because the two have very little in common. In all actuality Summer Heat is very much like Sega’s Beach Spikers for the GameCube and that bodes well for PS2 owners who have been looking to get in to the action.

Summer Heat doesn’t depend on gratuitous nudity or special effects to succeed. Yea I know it’s a shock considering the current state that “volleyball” games have been in as of late. It might also shock you to learn that Summer Heat doesn’t have a gimmick or cheap trick that makes it exciting, instead it chooses to focus on the actual game of (gasp!) volleyball to deliver an enjoyable experience. There’s a wealth of material here and instead of leaving gamers with a thinly disguised collection game with some volleyball elements sprinkled about, Acclaim has created a full-fledged volleyball title that should quench the thirst of anyone who has been looking to cut their teeth on a true simulation of the sport.

As is the case with the other well-known volleyball titles of this season the action is strictly 2-on-2. Scoring is rally-based, lending the game a simplified feel that makes it easy for casual volleyball fans to keep track of the action. The gameplay is grounded in reality meaning that there aren’t any super shots, extraneous upgrades or whacked-out gameplay elements that would be out of place in the actual sport.

A little something for the ladies... and John

From the start gamers will be treated to the usual modes that are found in your garden-variety sports title; Arcade mode and tournament-style modes are the order of the day here. To spice things up a bit the guys at Acclaim came up with an interesting way of showcasing the various trophies and bonuses that you can win in the game. Instead of having to sift through some garden-variety menus the designers opted to create a 3D beach house that gamers can wander through. It’s nothing groundbreaking or innovative but it’s nice to see that companies are still trying to find new and creative ways to showcase their goods.

Speaking of creative, Summer Heat is one of the first volleyball games to feature both male and female players. That’s right ladies no longer will you have to watch your men fawn and drool over big-breasted women. It’s your turn to drool over dreadlocked-hunks with an affinity for prancing around in Speedos. There’s a great selection too, Black, White, Hispanic, whatever your taste is the game will suit your needs. In all there are about 20 different men and women that you can play as, each with their own unique attributes and abilities. Because the various players have different strengths and weaknesses, it’s paramount to select two players that complement each other well. Can you imagine that? There’s more to the selection process than picking the two girls with the largest boobs! What’s this world coming to?

After you’ve selected your team it’s time to wait for the game to load. Get used to that spinning sun icon in the bottom left corner because you’ll be seeing a whole lot of it during your time with this puppy. You know how you’ve always got that one buddy that wants to eat while playing games so he pauses it to take bites while everyone has to sit and wait around for him? This is the game for him because he won’t have to take small bites while the game is going, he’ll have more than enough time to finish his small burger/taco/12 foot sub while you’re waiting for the game to load. Seriously, it’s that bad. Going from screen to screen takes an eternity and while the beach house is pretty decent, it’ll make you think twice about going to it without a purpose or reason.
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