Sponsorship and product placement in entertainment is growing more and more popular and has mixed results, if it wasn’t for bingo would we have Jeremy Kyle on every day? or would we know that the 2004 Converse boot is a classic in the year 2035 thanks to the two hour cinematic advert that is, I, Robot? The inevitable has already happened of course, with advertising having moved over to gaming, first with the likes of Dole bananas appearing in Super Monkey Ball and now Puma having a go with After Hours Athlete for PlayStation Move.
Strangely though, other than the title, the Puma brand isn’t seen anywhere else in the game, that and the sports included aren’t really ones you would associate with it.
The box boasts of three after hours games to enjoy after the rigours of the daily grind; bowling, darts and pool (but be careful as you may feel a little hoodwinked if purchasing this title as those of you looking for a new experience may want to give this a pass as each one is a game previously released and repackaged for the Christmas sales). What you actually get is three PSN Move games, Hustle Kings, Top Darts and High Velocity Bowling, games that came out over a year ago with all their motion tracking updates.
Top Darts sets After Hours Athlete off to a great start, allowing for exciting multiplayer games and also a decent single player career to complete. Going solo allows you to enter a variety of leagues and cup tournaments, each with varying difficulties against an interesting collection of characters. These games are based on the standard rules of darts with the closest to the bullseye starting and the first player to clear 301 points on a double score wins. However there is also a large amount of other rule sets to play as either solo or for upto seven other players like 501 and “round the clock” plus a few games not found in the local pub that are more like minigames like “stack up” and “bomb darts”.
What is surprising is the level of attention to detail in Top Darts even though it is an old PSN title. From the in game commentary is effective and in keeping with the sport with a lively voice giving you up to date runndowns of the scores and also hints as to what to go for next down to the small holes left on the board as you remove the darts. You can even customise your avatar with the use of your Playstarion Eye and tinker with the looks and designs of your darts.
This being the only darts game I have played on the PS3 I cant see how it can be topped other than by the real thing. The Move just works so well here, with you stepping up to the line and holding it just like you would a real dart, allowing for precise aiming and a very natural action for throwing your makes it very realistic, saving your wallpaper and also has less chance of getting banned from your local pub for being played like a contact sport.
Hustle Kings brings the favourite pub game pool to the PS3 and again offers a host of single and multiplayer modes that are so detailed it looks like the real thing. The Move really makes this game with actions mapped that are very similar to using a real pool cue, even down to careful judgement of how fast you move the Move when taking a shot or applying spin.The single player modes in Hustle Kings offer a decent selection of pool games from American and UK 8 Ball and 9 ball plus plenty of trick shots to master. As you progress through the games tournaments you earn Hustle King Credits and with these you can later gamble against the AI, purchase more cue’s and trick shots plus take them online to see just how good you really are. The online mode is very easy to use, allowing you to jump into rooms and bet your credits away.
Just like Top Darts, Hustle Kings is an exceptional PSN title that is packaged with some great ball physics and graphics to boot, this is almost worth the price tag alone.
The final game on offer is High Velocity Bowling, a sport that almost every motion detection game has attempted and whilst fun, it does frustrate quite quickly as it is extremely hard to get to grips with when compared to the other games on this disc. The Single player mode allows you to select from a group of players, annoyingly they are not very good and have varying weaknesses to overcome. By playing the tournaments and trick shots will unlock more characters and better balls that greatly improve the game. If you have the patience there is a challenging game in here but at times it feels over complicated. The multiplayer aspect is also effected by this and is only any fun if playing with other experienced players. This and the sub par graphics leaves this the weakest of the bunch.
Each of the games are decent representations of each sport and all support 3D visuals if you have the kit. The key element to After Hours Athlete is multiplayer as that is where most of can be found. I may of come across as harsh initially and all for good reason, the last thing anyone wants is a group of games you already own but have a new cover on them. That said Both Top Darts and Hustle Kings are worthy of your collection and at such a budget price, if you dont own either of them it is well worth picking up After Hours Athlete for the after dinner entertainment during the Christmas party season.
Rating: GoodReview Policy
You can order After Hours Athlete from ShopTo for just £11.86 here.