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Review: Sparc

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♫In a game I can be who I virtually am♫

I feel like I've typed the phrase "VR has potential" a million times, but it's true.

When I'm presented with perfect conditions in a perfect setting, where two people can have VR headsets and engage in a multiplayer sporting event, VR is unlike anything I've ever experienced. On my own, I get a very similar feeling of awe, but I've talked at length before of the isolating tendencies of VR -- it's a tough thing to balance when both players need tons of space, and roughly twice the budget of a normal gaming setup.

Sparc doesn't solve any of those problems, but it doesn't have to.

Sparc (PS4 [reviewed], PC [Oculus, Vive])
Developer: CCP Games
Publisher: CCP Games
Released: August 29, 2017 (PSVR), TBA (PC)
MSRP: $29.99

It would be a disservice to call Sparc "dodgeball," because it's an amalgam of several more sports with a twist from CCP.

Your job is to hit your opponent like dodgeball, sure, but there are a bunch of different rules that govern the locomotion of the ball and some extra rules thrown in like a "strike zone," which enhances your ball if you hit it. One hand is your shield, which can be use to deflect balls, and the other is for throwing. The hard part is that there are two different balls, and you can only deflect your opponent's color. Oh, and dodging in real time.

It's a one-on-one sport, and you can either spectate, or play it. I have to warn you, that's really all there is to it. There's no AI training mode or bots to speak of, no campaign, no frills, even. CCP Games created a virtual sport and expects you to keep at it over and over -- which is exactly what I did.

I was worn out after playing Sparc for roughly 30 minutes, and it felt pretty great. I was leaning into different kinds of throws over time (you need to put some hot sauce on it) and different areas to bounce the ball to, picking up on nuances, sharing them with my opponents, learning their strategies, and vice-versa -- all things you'd do in a real sport. Just like picking up a modern VR unit or playing room scale for the first time, it was something that felt completely new.

The only fault with the controls is by no fault of CCP Games, but rather, Sony. When I first experienced Sparc it was with the HTC Vive controllers, and I can only imagine how smooth it'll feel on Oculus Touch. But the Move remotes are simply outdated and cheap by comparison, and although one can't fault CCP for locking up timed exclusivity on PS4, I think it's much better suited for more advanced hardware. That's not to say it's bad by any means, just limited.

In some ways it's refreshing to see all of the fluff cut out. There's no lootboxes and the cosmetic options are slim. It's all about the sport, and as long as there's a playerbase there, I'll be hopping in from time to time to see what's up. Sparc has the potential to grow, but it needs all the help it can get from as many installbases it can get its hands on. 

[This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.]


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Sparc reviewed by Chris Carter

8

GREAT

Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures


 



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  • CCP's new game is a virtual sport called Sparc - Jordan Devore
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    Filed under... #CCP #multiplayer #Oculus Rift #PC #PlayStation VR #Trailers #Virtual Reality #Vive

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