Release Date: Out Now
Controllers: Move Controller Only
If you’ve ever wanted to play Wii Tennis in a neon landscape whilst on ecstasy, then Holoball is going to be right up your street – if you have the room to play.
Imagine playing squash in a world dressed like Tron and you’ll have an almost perfect picture of what playing Holoball is actually like. The game is by no means complex but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun – though how much time you’ll spend with the game is totally dependent on your enjoyment of playing the same game over and over again, like real sport!
I’m not a sports fan. I’d rather be tucked up in bed with a good book, or playing video-games (surprise!) than out in a field kicking around a cold, hard, leather ball. I’m generally not a fan of playing sports video-games either. There have been a few exceptions over the years, but I mostly game to take me away from the real world, not replicate it in a slightly less immersive way.
Holoball is different. Being in VR means it can be as immersive as real sport whilst also taking you somewhere you could never go in real life. You also don’t have be embarrassed about not being very good to begin with; the A.I. won’t judge you – for the most part.
The gameplay here is simple. Using a Move controller, and the in-game visuals of a paddle, you whack a ball out towards a giant wall in front of you – where an A.I. player is waiting to knock it back, if it can. You score by knocking the ball past the computer player, and it scores by knocking it past you. If you make a mistake, such as not hitting the ball hard enough, you can use the T button to enable a tractor beam which will bring the ball back to you for another try. This sounds like cheating but it can only be done under certain circumstances, and I only found myself using it if the ball was taking forever to get anywhere after a naff hit from myself.
There are two main modes to choose from: Championship and Arcade. The latter features several modes within it such as a Score Attack and Zen. Within Championship mode you have four difficulties from easy to expert and you unlock each by completing the one before. As the modes get harder the arena increases in size – though don’t worry, your play area doesn’t have to. There are also online leaderboards which will increase replayability if you’re that way inclined.
The biggest issue that could arise with Holoball is the size of the real-world room you play in. You need space. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing the game if you plan on playing in a tiny bedroom; make sure there’s no furniture, breakable objects or people in your immediate vicinity. Also make sure to wear the Move controller strap, just incase. If you’ve previously played Job Simulator and you had enough room, you’ll probably be okay.
The immersion factor is pretty high here; you definitely feel as though you’re in a giant, neon arena. The music and sound effects, though forgettable after you stop playing, work well in-game. The voice of the A.I. can be jarring and hard to understand. Any information I did glean from the voice-over seemed to indicate I had been forced to play Holoball in order to save my life. I’m pretty sure I heard the A.I. say that the victory fireworks were made from the remains of previous Holoball players who had failed and died.
The graphics are simple but at this early stage that works to the games advantage. The view was clear, not blurry and that’s what you want.
The Move controller tracking is great for the most part. On occasion I would hit the ball behind me. I’m not sure whether that was an issue with tracking or an issue with me. As I said previously, I’ve never been a fan of sport so it’s much more likely to be the latter.
If you’re as unfit as I am you may find you can’t play for huge amounts of time, but that does mean it could be used as part of an exercise routine – or the start of one. The gameplay is simple and won’t last you forever, but this reflected in the low price, and it may be a game you come back to every so often for years to come. If you enjoy games like Wii Tennis and want something more immersive, Holoball could be for you. Hell, it could be the future of e-sports.
Verdict: 8/10 – It’s like mixing Wii Tennis, Tron and ecstasy together.