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Wii Sports - Review
Written by James Hobbs

Wii Sports is, quite simply, excellent fun. More than that, Nintendo really have achieved something quite special with this title - it generates such a communal spirit that it's practically impossible not to have fun if you're playing with other people. Even played alone, the games have just enough depth to be rewarding.

You can choose from 5 sports from the outset - unlike Wii Play, you are not required to unlock any. Tennis, Baseball, Bowling, Golf, and Boxing all make an appearance, with each game requiring you to utilise the control system in a different way. Only Boxing requires the use of the Nunchuk attachment - all of the other games use only the Wii Remote.

Tennis is the easiest game to pick up, and probably the most immediately gratifying. Instead of moving your character around the court, the game does this for you - your only task is to swing the Wii remote like a racket to hit the ball. Whilst this may sound simple, at first it can be slightly difficult - a certain degree of good timing is required, and it may cause some annoyance to inexperienced gamers. However, after the players have acclimatised to the controls, it is excellent fun, if rather shallow. Whilst you can play the game sitting down, after a few hits you will want to stand up - the very nature of the game and the controls encourages you to really get into it, and it's far more rewarding if you do.

I wasn't particularly impressed with Baseball when we tried it in the Wii House - however, after hours of play, I have to say that it's actually rather good. As with all of the titles, it's far better if you really get into it. The sound makes a surprising difference to the quality of the game - hitting the ball produces a supremely satisfying 'thwack', that makes the experience seem that little bit more real. The baseball is incredibly simple, but it works well, despite being rather hard at times. The lack of control over the fielding players can also become a bit irksome, paticularly when they drop a seemingly easy catch. However, this is only a minor problem, and on the whole the game is great fun.

As with Wii Play, the Mii characters you have created take part in the games you play, and it's a nice touch. They have a prevalence for pulling incredibly strange faces, particularly in Baseball - a Mii who has caught a ball whilst fielding tends to either look completely insane or to offer an oddly sage nod.

Bowling is fairly rudimentary, and doesn't seem to work quite as well as the more 'physical' games. There isn't quite the same feeling of immersion, and whilst it is fairly satisfying to score a strike, or even a turkey, somehow the experience feels more detached. In a way, most of the Wii Sports games suffer from this - you actually don't have that much control over what's going on in the games. You cannot move your tennis player, and your baseball fielders are fairly erratic. The nature of Tennis and Baseball means that when you do take part, it feels significant, but Bowling does not pull this off. It's fun, but it doesn't feel as essential.

Golf has probably been the most played title here at the Wii UK Cave. It seems to exude some kind of pleasant warmth, that creates a wonderfully relaxed gaming atmosphere. It laughs sneeringly at furiously-paced titles like Gears of War, it disapproves of Warhawk, and it positively despises Grand Theft Auto - this, is the kind of game that saunters up to a bar by the sea, orders a dry martini, and reclines in the sun reading Egar Allen Poe. It also exhibits the finest graphics seen in Wii Sports - some lovely, calm, reflection mapped lakes, and a gently undulating sea. It's marvellous fun, and is best enjoyed with a few whiskies and some twiglets.

Boxing, the final game in Wii Sports, is rather odd. It's definitely the most physically exhausting game of the set, and possibly the most punishing game we've played. It's an exhausting affair that makes you respect real boxers that little bit more, if only in a physical sense. However, control-wise, it's not so great. Your movements rarely translate effectively into punches, and it feels very stunted. It's perfectly acceptable to just mash your fists forward and backwards as fast as possible, and whilst this is fun, it loses appeal after a fairly short amount of time. As with the other games, it's the most fun when played with others, but even then Boxing starts to grate. We're not too keen on it here at Wii UK, although it has proved useful for settling differences.

With the addition of the Training and Fitness modes to add a bit of variety to the gameplay, Wii Sports is nothing short of essential. It's rather lucky, in that case, that every single person who owns a Wii also owns Wii Sports. Nintendo could have included Wii Play with the console and charged you for Wii Sports - it would have been worth it. We're very lucky that they didn't.

The verdict:

Impossibly entertaining, and best enjoyed with friends - Wii Sports is simply fun, undiluted.

8.5

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