Ubisoft’s Racket Sports ('Racquet Sports' in North America) started life on Wii as Racquet Sports Party, a multiplayer waggle-fest that was one of few games to employ Ubi’s Wii camera to allow controller-free gameplay. Since then it’s received an overhaul in the graphical and control departments, but it’s only a sheep in wolf’s clothing.
Although it’s ditched the “Party” from its title, it can’t disguise its undesirable Wii DNA. The Move controller isn’t used in a 1:1 method; it’s simply used to activate a swing and supposedly direct your shots. If you plump for the “simple” control method you’ll just have to focus on swinging for timing and direction, but the “advanced” method throws in the extra concern of having to point your controller in the same direction as your character is running to set up for a backhand or forehand appropriately.
There’s a handy arrow below your character’s feet to show which way you should be holding the controller, but the problem with this method is that your character moves automatically, so if you need to switch stances they’ll jolt around, left to right, like a pre-teen on a sugar high. It’s more of an issue in the Table Tennis, when the camera sometimes zooms so close you can’t see the arrow below your feet, causing countless missed shots because you thought you were setting up a forehand but your player had other ideas.
When you do manage to execute a swing, no matter which of the five sports you’re playing, you’re likely to be unimpressed with the accuracy of your control. There’s a short but noticeable delay between swinging your Move controller and your player taking a shot, and the various topspin and backspin shots aren’t replicated with anywhere near the accuracy you would expect, resulting in plenty of unintended shots. That’s to say nothing of the directional control, which is equally unpredictable; swinging wide from side to side, from low to high or any other combination doesn’t produce reliable control over your shot’s direction.
Table Tennis is very weak compared to the version in Sports Champions; without 1:1 control the delicacy of shot placement is lost, with many shots - particularly backhands - feeling almost automatically generated. Tennis suffers from equally unstable controls, with drop shots particularly fiddly to execute, and the tactical element of the game is all-but lost as you settle for getting your shots to land in the opponent’s court.
Badminton fares better, with a passably accurate sensation of hitting a shuttlecock, and emerges as one of the most enjoyable sports on the disc, alongside the quick-paced Beach Tennis. Rounding out the package is Squash, a disappointing recreation of the sport where the lack of precision shot control is felt most heavily; the combination of tactics and speed should have made this a winner, but the low control fidelity makes it hard to enjoy.
Should you wrestle the controls into obeying your commands, you can take your selected character through a career in each of the available five sports, unlocking Trophies and costumes as you succeed in tournaments. There’s also the usual exhibition and multiplayer modes, as well as online play. Training modes for each sport offers you the chance to hone your shot placement skills, but you’re likely to experience a few John McEnroe moments along the way, so be warned.
With other Move titles making strides in gaming control, Racket Sports feels like a dinosaur; the motion-sensing is unreliable and could have been more accurately and enjoyably served by a button press, a disaster for any new motion control title. Racket Sports is precisely the kind of title we don’t want to see on Move. Save your money for the promising-looking Virtua Tennis 4.