Friday , 23 February 2024
PSVR GamesReviews

Sparc Review

Sparc Review (PSVR)

For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.

With RIGS not really getting my interest, I was pleased to see another virtual sport game heading to the Playstation in VR. This is really what CCP games have aimed for when it comes to Sparc – but, does it come out a winner or a runner-up?

The main thing I would like to mention about Sparc is that it’s mainly a multiplayer experience. So, unless you have Playstation Plus and are willing to go online I would give Sparc a miss. Where the game does include a challenge mode for offline play, it really doesn’t live up the actual core of the game itself – and you can not play against the AI.

Now, what is Sparc – in essence if a game of VR dodge ball, with some added bells and whistles. The aim of the game is to hit your opponent with your ball (as it is with dodge ball), however, other tools are available depending on what mode you play it on. I will start with the easier modes, you have multiple ways to deflect your opponent’s ball back at them. Firstly you have little shields around your knuckles to punch their ball back to them. Secondly when holding your ball you have a larger shield on your hand with the ball in. Where this may sound like the large shield makes the game easy, once this has been used you will lose the shield – making your only option to throw you ball to get it recharged. If you go onto hard mode you do not have a shield it is all about dodging the ball. The last element to the gameplay is, behind you and your opponent is a strike zone, letting this get hit will enlarge the size of your opponent’s ball, in turn making it hard to dodge. This means if you are accurate enough but your opponent dodges the ball, you might still see some benefit of that great shot. Adding all the above to the fact the game is played inside a confined arena with walls that the ball bounces off, it really makes for fun, intense and hectic games at times.

Given the fact you have to dodge you opponents ball, this game would need the tracking to be on point – and I am glad to say its the best tracking I’ve seen on the PSVR. This means the tracking for your dodging and movement when blocking and throwing all work perfectly, making for a core game mechanic that you will love. Due to the tracking when playing the game you really do have to make sure you have a clear and big enough play space. The game will mark your play space in a circle to make sure you stay inside of that. However, for me there is one issue with this element of the game, it’s made to be played stood up – so people who need to play seated might not find it as entertaining or responsive. I did try it sitting down and really struggled at times, but when standing up it was a different story. As you would expect the constant dodging and throwing will leave you in one hell of a sweat by the time you are done playing – but gaming and exercising is always a good thing.

As mentioned previously the game is mainly about the multiplayer. I am usually a bit dubious about going online and playing against random people – and unfortunately you can not create private rooms in this game. Meaning my only option was to really take on the random people across Playstation Network, and to my surprise I actually really enjoyed it. You came across people of all different kinds; the polite people, the trash talkers, the good losers and the bad losers. I would say from the games I played it is one of the nicest communities I have been on using PSVR since Werewolves Within. I would really say to anyone do not be concerned about going online with this community.

Sparc has the best idea for the lobby when others are playing and you are waiting to get into the arena yourself – you are outside the arena as giants looking in on the game. Where this is cool and you can see what the others the doing, when you are in the arena you can see the others as giants. For me this was a great feature of the game, as even the people outside the arena can taunt or cheer you, making for a real feel of an arena sport. The guys over a CCP games have even brought some sportsmanship into their game, once you are in the arena, you have to bring forward you hands and touch fists to start the game.

Visually as you will see from the trailer, this is very much inspired from Tron. The bright neon aesthetic of the visuals makes it feel like you are in a disc battle – only with balls instead. I found that everything look very clean and futuristic, and was surprised as the lack of jaggy edges, due the fact everything is so close up to you. One really impressive thing about Sparc was the clarity of the avatars, which allows you to see your opponents upper body, head and arms. Many VR titles I have played do not attempt the full body avatar due to the difficulties you can have animating them, normally resulting in avatars that have glitchy movement – but this does not happen in Sparc. Putting this to the aforementioned perfect tracking and it really stands out you are playing another human being.

Another impressive thing is CCP Games have made the audio work well, and for a sport that does not exist. For me they have again taken some inspiration from Tron for the sounds, but that is not a bad thing. In doing so, they have put together a set of sounds that makes sure it matches the world they are placing you in. Where there is not an over excessive use of sound in the game, the digital noises of the ball bouncing off the walls and indicating when the target has been hit, never seem to get old.

There was one issue I found with the audio on multiplayer though, which I am hoping gets patched out. Sometimes the game chat is off, meaning you get a lot of crackling or broken talking. This is not in every game you play, but, when it does and you have someone in the lobby that wont stop talking it can become very off-putting and annoying.

Outside of the awesome tracking for the core gameplay, as you would expect the game is played using two Move controllers – with each controller being the corresponding hand. There was clearly no other way this game would work, and again the tracking of the controllers have never been an issue during my time playing the game. The only button you find yourself using when in the arena is the Trigger on what hand you want to use the hold and throw you ball, it really is that simple, the rest is down to your throwing motion. Such a simple control system makes this game so easy to pick up, it’s just learning the skills to win after that.

From my time with Sparc to complete this review, I do really see myself going back to this game quite often. There’s just a certain appeal and pull about the game that will want me to keep going back. Be it the online community behind the game, or the mix of the great tracking and core game mechanics.

Conclusion

Sparc is an excellent addition to Playstation VR, which has perfected the tracking making for a very solid core gameplay mechanic. The main issue people might find is the games high reliance on multiplayer, with no option to face AI. However, the multiplayer really is that strong and has a great community behind it, so don’t let this put you off purchasing this awesome game.

Also available on HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
Developer: CCP

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