Game Review | Sports Bar VR (PS VR)

Some nights you want to go out on a wild adventure, and some nights you just want to grab a glass of beer and throw some darts. Thanks to Sports Bar VR, now you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your living room for the sports bar experience!

I really appreciate the effort that went into making Sports Bar VR feel like a real physical space. The developers could have just opened the game with a menu listing all the games available, but they took the time to build a bar with all the games laid out in different corners. The initial setup (height, seated, left/right-handed) is done just outside the door of the bar, and as you enter you are greeted by a warm hum of other patrons talking and laughing, glasses clinking, and jukebox music. There are posters on the brick wall, a few TVs playing, beer bottles, and pool chalk lying around; all tiny details, but they add up to make you feel like you’re in a busy bar.

Moving around the bar to the different games is easy thanks to teleporting via the square button. It is essential that your height was set correctly at the start of the game; otherwise you will be towering over the game, or looking up at it, which makes playing very difficult. Setting the height was tricky when I first started playing, but thankfully a patch has solved this issue.

As you approach a game, you will want to position yourself correctly in order to line up your shots right. For these finer adjustments, you will have to use the trickier “Hulk Mode” instead of teleporting. By pushing a button on each Move controller and moving each controller closer or further, right or left, you move the world around you incrementally while your avatar remains stationary. To help you visualize this, imagine some green giant was able to grab a corner of the world and spin it back and forth or bring it closer to himself. Because I was stationary, and the world moved around me, I felt queasy every time I used Hulk mode. It was effective, but disorienting.

A lot of these games would be even more fun playing with a few friends, and the game does support parties of up to 6. Unfortunately, I only know one other person who owns a PS VR, and I was not able to coordinate playing with them.

One of the two developer’s previous games was a VR Pool game, and it shows in the polished presentation of this game. Pool ball physics are great, and it is really helpful to see the outline of where the cue will strike as you line up your shot. It takes a few minutes to get used to summoning a pool stick with one button, lining up the shot with one controller, locking it in with the trigger on the other controller, and then pulling back and making the shot with the first controller. Once you get the hang of it, it makes sense and becomes second nature. Since you have to move around the pool table so often to line up shots, my issue with Hulk Mode was strongest with this game.

You’d expect darts in any decent sports bar, and Sports Bar VR does not disappoint. Three darts are summoned in your “off” hand with a simple button press, then pick up a dart with your dominant hand. After aiming, hold down the trigger on the “off” hand and make a throwing motion with your dominant hand. I haven’t quite figured out the trick for lining up the darts to the target before I release, but maybe it’s just me. Wrist straps are a good idea for this game!

Air Hockey is probably my favorite minigame of the set. Simply “grab” a paddle, and move your controller back and forth to hit the puck, and hopefully be the first to score seven goals before your opponent. I was impressed with how one-to-one this game felt. When I moved the paddle to where I expected the puck to be, it would connect successfully every time, except when my reflexes were too slow.

Skeeball isn’t a game you see in every sports bar, but a decent version is provided here. Setting up your position is critical here, and of course your height must be set correctly. Still, I found myself hunching down a bit to release the ball along the track. To my delight, the game allows you to throw the balls at the target like a basketball. Although this method is far from accurate, it is fun to see the ball bounce off the side and ricochet all over the bar.

I’m terrible at shuffleboard in real life, and that was no different in VR. I always undershot or overshot, and quickly lost patience with this minigame. I did have quite a bit of glitching picking up the pucks; they never seemed to settle in my “hand” the same way, which increased the difficulty of sliding them.

I played around with the chess and checkers sets, but there doesn’t seem to be an AI opponent available for these, so all I can confirm is that it is easy to pick up and move the pieces, and the game doesn’t enforce movement rules (like how Knight moves versus Bishop, etc.). Not having a human opponent to square off against, I didn’t spend much time with either chess or checkers.

Verdict

Sports Bar VR really captures the feeling of hanging out in a sports bar. Movement in the 3D space has a bit of a learning curve, and it is essential to get your height settings right as well. Overall, the physics are great, and balls and darts move and bounce as they should. Games that involve throwing aren’t quite as easy to master, but pool and air hockey shine as great games to play.

Experience points that unlock custom hats are a nice way to extend gameplay, but you will only spend a few hours at the bar unless you can convince some friends to join you. Just like in real life, Sports Bar VR is best with friends.

Sports Bar VR is available for $19.99 at the PlayStation Store. A copy was provided for review.

Tim Bledsoe

Podcasts & Single-player games are his thing except on "Adventure Time Tuesdays"
Check Also
Close