Speedball 2: Tournament Review

Extreme sports + snazzy visuals. Sounds like a decent mix, right? Speedball 2: Tournament (a remake of 1988’s Speedball) is a decent attempt at providing some over-the-top gameplay and gaming thrills. In the end, Speedball 2 is your typical arcade/action game but it’s been marred by technical issues.

Having never played the original Speedball, I had to become familiar with Speedball 2. Sure, that sounds normal for an unfamiliar premise. Unfortunately, the game has a rather unnecessarily complex and cumbersome menu system so things were pretty tricky at first. I had no manual either, so go figure; thankfully things got on-track after some clicking and exploring.

Before starting a game, you outfit your team colors — but don’t read too much into that because it’s rather cheap. After enjoying a round of Speedball, you can add different attribute points to your team. During each game, you have a few entertaining bits to keep things interesting, such as random power-ups, multiplier loops and warp tunnels.

The gameplay itself is unchanged from the original; you take a steel ball and deliver it into your opponent’s goal. If you’re the aggressive type, tackling and physical contact is encouraged; in a funny move though, no one gets injured.

The controls are a bit stiff on the keyboard, so I would suggest using a gamepad. But since I was stuck with a keyboard and mouse, I was met with lagging movement and awkward gameplay. The select few number of available camera angles alleviated some of the ache, but the controls drag the game down a bit for the typical PC gamer.

The visuals are nice…at a distance. From afar, arenas are rendered in an impressive and grand fashion, everything is bright and flashy thanks to the engine’s lighting system and plenty of shadow rendering are generated dynamically. But when you get up close, things get pretty ugly, especially character faces and detailed textures. Thankfully, you won’t be spending too much time up close since the action is more enjoyable from a distance.

While the fundamental gameplay is pretty unchanged and the sequel was updated with some snazzy visuals, I just felt the game itself didn’t hold up enough in this day and age. Speedball fans from back in the day will enjoy the game, but other than that, the vast majority of gamers are likely better off skipping it.

I’ve heard that the retail version of the game, which heads to stores next month, will get the patch treatment, so my advice is to either hold out and shell for the retail copy, or just avoid this game. With a bunch of technical issues, performance problems and clunky controlling, it almost plays like a beta instead of a full, finished game. The promised patch won’t do anything to make the gameplay more enjoyable, though.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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