Power Spike Pro Beach Volleyball is a game that attempts to capture the nuances of beach volleyball on the PlayStation and is also an official licensed product of the Federation of International Volleyball. Among other things, it boasts a strong cast of player characters, from the more well-known players (like Gabrielle Reece) to the lesser-known - more than 40 from 15 countries in all. In addition to this, the game starts you off with eight beaches to choose from and six more that can be unlocked. The beach locales range from Los Angeles to Osaka, Japan, and cover the world over. And you can play each level in the daytime or evening.
Much like real volleyball, this is a game that's better played with more than one participant. While the opponent AI is rather difficult, even on the amateur setting, the teammate AI leaves much to be desired. It will often let a ball drop right in front of it without even attempting to retrieve it, and it seems to prefer staying out of the way and letting you do most of the work - which doesn't make for anything other than constant frustration. The game starts to come together during the multiplayer mode - albeit roughly. You can use the multitap, which lets as many as four players to square off. In this mode, the game can be fun - for a while, at least - but some of the camera angles can be a hindrance. Luckily, you can choose from different camera angles, like a side view, or you can choose from a few overhead angles, which are higher than the default angles.
Another available option is player editor. As the name suggests, this lets you customize a character to your own personal preference. Cosmetically, you may change skin color, hair color, and various articles of clothing to fit your taste. The characters have six attributes (strength, serve, block, pass, set, and attack) that can be altered. All these attributes start out at 50 points each, with an extra 100 points to distribute among them. Sadly, these customizations seem to have little or no effect on your gameplay.
There are three modes of play available: exhibition, which is a single game; world tour, which places you in progressive tournaments throughout the world; and practice mode, which acts like an exhibition without points and continues until you stops it.
The game's control is mediocre: once a character is running, it's not all bad, but if you need to move only a step or two, things can be quite frustrating. When you move short distances, you suffer from a rough stutter step, which can be annoying when you try to position yourself for an incoming ball. Fortunately, the ball gives off a ripple effect around its impending landing point (which starts off rather large and gets smaller as the ball gets closer), and if you are within this point, a button press will position you for the hit. Holding the button down in this circumstance will let you charge up your player's strength for a more powerful delivery. Be careful, though - unless you plan to spike it, more power can often send the ball straight into the net or out of bounds.
One of the stronger points of the control is the icon representation of the ball's landing point. Once you have positioned yourself for a hit, a cursor, which can be moved to the preferred landing point, appears on the other side. This makes for stronger control over the ball, but it still isn't enough to overcome the overall rough control.
The sound is decent - it includes crowd noises, ball effects, grunts and yells from the players, and the occasional wave or ATV engine whine. Music is sparse - it chimes in only during menu access, loading screens, and game events like the switching of sides or the end of a match.
Another annoying aspect is the skin tones and the color of the sand. They are too close in color - the players blend in with their surroundings, so you end up squinting during the entire game. On some levels, it can make the game almost unplayable. If it weren't for the brightly colored trunks and suits that the characters wear, only the most dedicated would keep playing.
Power Spike Pro Beach Volleyball makes a good attempt, but its inconsistencies and shoddy control detract from the overall experience. It has the benefit of being instantly playable, but on the flip side, the game is also instantly forgettable.