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Volleyball Unbound: Pro Beach Volleyball - Review

16 December 2016

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Note:

I have no affiliation with the game or developer and I was not given a promotional copy. Price at time of writing: £10.99 (Steam).

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This review is based on the first public access Early Access version of the game issued by Steam on 16th December 2016. As such there will likely be bug fixes and additional features that will be added before the full release of the game.
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Steam Link: Here

Game website: Here­

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gallery/volleybound

Comparable games:

None known. Yes I know there are other beach volleyball games in existence such as 'Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball". But these fall firmly into the arcade category and seem to generate sales based on bikini styles rather than gameplay. Volleyball Unbound falls firmly into the simulation game sector.

 

Features:

Please excuse my quoting from promotional literature but here's the main features:

  • Extensive career mode for males and females
  • Party mode for up to 16 people (4 people playing at a time)
  • Very realistic ball physics and player abilities
  • Very large range of locations and tournaments
  • Character editor - recreate the looks and abilities of any real world player!
  • Controls are simple to learn but hard to master
  • Emotion system: audience and player reactions reflect the complete course of the game
  • Smart AI with humanlike behaviour
  • Plug & Play support for most controllers.

 

In addition to this, while playing the game other features which caught my attention are:

 

  • A proper referee. One which gives blows his whistle, gives line signals, indicates direction of serve, and so forth. The attention to detail in this game is amazing.
  • A full gaming experience. The AI players don't stop when the point is won. If a player does something particularly good then don't be surprised to see their partner come over to congratulate them. Or if they make a complete balls up that they well hang their head in shame!
  • Attention to detail. If you want to move beyond your standard serve, and pretend to be a professional player than you can, with your fancy float and even jump float serve!­
  • Detailed character editor. I was expecting a basic set of player photos to pick from, or maybe choose your own hair colour and skin colour. But if you have a desire to have pink toenails and green fingernails the game will happily let you. In the screenshot below I had a quick go at making a character resembling  Kira Walkenhorst and then achieve one of her amazing blocks. Sorry, I digress.

 

 

Shortcomings:

­This is not some multi-million pound venture by a huge company such as Crystal Dynamics. Instead, it is a much smaller operation, made by BVB fans, for BVB fans. And in my opinion, this is no bad thing, it has kept the game at the centre of things rather than focussing on fancy videos that you only ever watch once.

 

Bugs. I can't gloss over the fact, the game is [currently] full of them. Spelling errors, camera panning errors, and a rather large 'frames per second' warning message which can't be disabled  are a few that spring to mind. However these are small things, the game worked 'out of the box' for me, with no crashes or fatal error messages to date. The game developer (Great Boolean) is also very active­ and will examine any bugs that you might find. Additionally he is also looking for ways to add further detail to the game, for example a bigger colour palette to choose from, or additional headwear such as an Alice Band to supplement the current cap.

 

 

Final thoughts:

It might be worth waiting a month or two if you can for the game to become more polished. But if a few game quirks don't bother you, then I'd recommend you buy it right now. It will keep you entertained until the Beach Volleyball season kicks off in Fort Lauderdale in February.

 

 

 

Update - February 2017

 

Several rounds of updates have taken place since the initial early-access launch of the game.

Some of the new features include:

  • Control of the replays - change cameras, fastforward, rewind, pause. etc
  • Tell your AI partner to block the following directions: left, left/center, center, right/center, right
  • Tell your AI Partner to do a quick set
  • Button mapping editor
  • Play High-shots
  • Double-hit faults (Beta)
  • Mouse pointer is now automatically hidden when playing with controller/keyboard
  • More intelligent AI.

Many of the bugs/and issues mentioned in the original review have now been fixed

  • Statistics screens are now correct
  • Camera panning is better, no longer giving you a large view of the referees legs!
  • Spelling errors have now been corrected
  • Players are now solid (i.e. the ball will no longer pass through them!)

The game is still in 'Early Access' so it is still not perfect, but rapid progress has been made since the initial release. Additional photos have been added to the gallery to showcase the new features.­­

ludwig-walkenhorst.com Volleyball Unbound Review
ludwig-walkenhorst.com Volleyball Unbound Review
ludwig-walkenhorst.com Volleyball Unbound Review

Monster Block Kira!

150% Sideouts! Another bug to be ironed out.

Very flexible ankles

Volleyball Unbound - Kira Walkenhorst & Laura Ludwig
Volleyball Unbound - Kira Walkenhorst & Laura Ludwig
Volleyball Unbound - Kira Walkenhorst & Laura Ludwig
Volleyball Unbound - Kira Walkenhorst & Laura Ludwig
Volleyball Unbound - Kira Walkenhorst & Laura Ludwig
Volleyball Unbound - Kira Walkenhorst & Laura Ludwig
Volleyball Unbound - Kira Walkenhorst & Laura Ludwig
Volleyball Unbound - Kira Walkenhorst & Laura Ludwig
Volleyball Unbound - Kira Walkenhorst & Laura Ludwig
Volleyball Unbound - Kira Walkenhorst & Laura Ludwig
Volleyball Unbound - Kira Walkenhorst & Laura Ludwig

Always good to catch your opponents laying down on the job

Beach volleyball, or sunbathing?

Excellent Dig!

Ready for action