Reviewed: November 11, 2010
Released: September 28, 2010
Ever since gamers got to swing a Wii remote toward their screen and throw a bowling ball game developers have been scrambling to replicate and improve upon that experience on all the consoles. With the advent of motion inputs it was no longer acceptable to merely tap a few buttons to toss a ball. There have been a handful of valiant attempt, most of which were dismissed as posers, unworthy of comparison to Wii Bowling. |
Perhaps the most acceptable of these was High Velocity Bowling that made impressive use of the SIXAXIS controller and even had you hold your controller much like a bowling ball. While that game got patched to work with the new PS Move, Crave Entertainment has released Brunswick Pro Bowling, which is Move supported out of the box. It also supports the standard controller if you havenít invested in the Move yet, but itís obvious this game is designed and intended for motion inputs.
Itís hard to create a diverse offering of modes for a bowling game. Youíre basically bowling 10 frames, either alone or with up to three friends locally or online. You have a Career mode, Tournaments, and High Score Challenges, and some cool Spare Challenges that has you picking up various configurations of leftover pins. A monetary system rewards you for wins and allows you to buy-in to the larger tournaments and events. You can also head to the Brunswick Pro Shop and purchase new balls, clothing and other gear.
The process of bowling with the Move controller is simple enough. You set your bowling position on the lane, then your angle, then you throw the ball by making a realistic bowling swing. Itís a bit odd at first since you donít have a one-to-one relationship with the onscreen bowler. You have to make your swing then watch the delayed reenactment. In some ways I would have preferred to not even have an avatar in the virtual alley. Just put me there in first-person perspective.
What did impress me was the level of response I was getting from the Move, especially in recreating my natural bowling swing and spin. There were times when it felt like I was really bowling, but that wasnít always the case, especially for some of my guest bowlers. I had one person try the game who throws a 20mph ball in real life Ė his natural swing was so fast the camera couldnít even detect the swing. And for some reason when other people would try the game the speed would be hit and miss. Sometimes the ball would go 6mph and other times it would go 12-15mph and they werenít doing anything different. So even though I was throwing consistent 17-20mph balls with a nice natural spin and curve, that wasnít the case for everyone.
Physics are pretty good with realistic spin based on your ball speed, lane oil conditions (which is viewable with triangle button) and any twist of your wrist. The pin action is questionable at times, a bit sluggish, or perhaps I am just used to the explosive pin action from Wii Bowling. This falls somewhere between that game and Kinect bowling where the pins seem glued to the floor. I will say that Brunswick Pro Bowling has the most realistic spare pick-up physics Iíve played on any console to date.
One thing I greatly appreciated was that the game allows you to mix and match Move controllers for each player. Unlike Move Sports where you have to have a dedicated controller for each player, in Pro Bowling we could double-up on one controller so four people could play with three controllers. It was so much better than the Sports game where you were fumbling with wrist straps and passing the controller to the next person in Frisbee Golf or Bocce.
As far as presentation, Brunswick Pro Bowling does a good job of mirroring the high-tech computerized visual at a real bowling alley with an insert screen that shows a plethora of mini-movies that are cued to your situation, and they donít stall the gameplay since they will continue to play while the next player is setting up his shot. The rest of the visuals consist of six unique alleys that offer a variety of dťcor and atmosphere and a handful of CG bowlers that you mostly see from the rear. Their bowling movement is realistic and smooth, but as previously mentioned, it doesnít mirror your moves and could easily have been removed entirely.
The audio is adequate with simple non-annoying music, the rumble of the ball streaking down the alley and the crash of pins. The post-shot movies play back at a shockingly high volume in the overall scheme of the sound mix.
The online bowling is a bit lacking in that you never see the other bowlers, just their scores. In fact, the entire game is a rather solitary experience on the screen, especially when you compare to the Wii game where the entire alley was filled with dozens of people, even on the neighboring lanes. This lack of atmosphere makes Brunswick Pro Bowling a bit dull if playing alone or online, but it is still a great party game.
I have to admit, as my first bowling game for the PS Move I was pretty impressed with Brunswick Pro Bowling. Calibration is as quick as pointing at the screen and pressing a button, menu navigation is simple, and pre-shot setup and actual gameplay is fluid. I have to admit the two-step process before each shot got annoying really fast so I adjusted my real bowling game to throw from the default starting position unless I am picking up a spare Ė saves a lot of time. This is great fun for a friends and family game night, but itís probably a bit too dull to play alone (even online) unless you are looking to perfect your swing.