Billed as the ideal solution to the Christmas shopping Wii shortages, the Realplay system for PS2 brings motion sensitive control to Sony's last-gen console. While it's easy to scoff at the range of themed controllers and accompanying games, there is certainly space for more motion control. With Christmas becoming more expensive every year, and PlayStation 2s tucked under televisions across the country, Realplay has the potential to be an affordable way of bringing casual gaming to homes across the country.
The way the system works is that unlike the Wii, each title comes with its own specific controller. At £35 to £40 for a game with controller, Realplay might seem expensive by PlayStation 2 standards. However, compared to the trouble of finding a Wii, buying it and then purchasing a game, for most Realplay will be the most affordable option.
Each controller comes with a simple gadget that looks like an oversized USB memory stick. Plugging this device into your PlayStation 2's USB port instantly connects the controller, but unfortunately you need to swap USB receivers as you jump from one game to another. There's also no space in the PlayStation 2's twin-USB ports for two receivers.
The controllers themselves feel rather cheap and plasticy, and certainly have a flavour of something you'd by from Woolworths' toy section rather than from a game store. Still, the sensitivity of the motion sensitive controllers is quite surprising, as they are efficient, responsive and accurate. The real test for Realplay though, comes in trying the games themselves, which is exactly what we've done.
Realplay Racing is definitely a very basic driving game, and its visuals are at best incredibly early PS2 standard, though perhaps they are better compared to original PlayStation graphics. Unsophisticated gameplay modes such as Quick Race, Time Trial and Championship are little more than ordinary and functional, but despite its banality, there is something enticing about Realplay Racing, and that most likely comes from the controls. Using a small steering wheel they work particularly well here, and though the game never nears the sheer quality of Excite Truck, occasionally it is challenging and even a little addictive. However, as a contender for the Wii's crown, or even to rival the PS2's wealth of traditional racing titles, Realplay Racing has little special to offer.