For alternative athletes everywhere.
Despite the Puma logo emblazoned on the front of the box, After Hours Athletes has little to do with sport or exercise in a traditional sense. Instead, it offers a compilation of three PSN games that represent activities that long distance runners or tennis professionals may well enjoy when they are not training. But probably not. The more realistic title for this game would have been “Down The Pub Games” or “Games To Play Before Having A Few Pints”.
But I am not really being fair. Bowling, Pool and Darts may not have the recognition of being true sports, but there are still plenty of people out there that take them serious enough that you have to admire their dedication and the skill that they have developed. For those of you who fancy the alternative sports, and are well equipped with a PlayStation Move controller, After Hours Athletes may well be the game of choice.
Providing, of course, that none of the games have already been purchased. This is a problem with compilations of this type. Whilst they offer excellent value for money compared with buying the three games separately over PSN, the entire package becomes a lot less attractive if the potential buyer already owns one of the titles included. And being that this package offers what are the three best examples of their represented activities available on PSN, anyone with a passing interest will have, most likely, already picked up the game that interests. There is nothing new in this package, just the main games and the available DLC, reducing the attraction even more.
But let’s make the assumption that the player has not already picked up one of the following titles. Included in this Puma branded compilation are the full versions of Hustle Kings, High Velocity Bowling and Top Darts. All three games make good use of the motion controller to mimic the actions of these activities, but not always to the games benefit. For example, try holding a Move controller like a dart and aiming it at something – the size of the controller makes the whole action feel somewhat unnatural. But the fact is that they all work well.
Probably the highlight of this package is the Pool game, Hustle Kings. Packaged with multiple different game modes offering all manner of Pool/Snooker/Billiards-related goodness, Hustle Kings is undoubtedly the best and most fully-featured game of this type currently available, on any platform. The biggest reason for this is simply how good the game looks, but the realistic feel and the intelligent camera controls all do their bit as well.
High Velocity Bowling, on the other hand, takes a different approach to the visuals. Whilst the game certainly doesn’t look bad, it lacks the polish of Hustle Kings and leans more towards the unrealistic, but comical, visual style. That being said, the game still manages to play in a way that will be natural to anyone who has rolled a bowling ball down an alley. The game features a fair few challenges for the player to enjoy, moving the game away from the more “score points and win” aspect of Ten Pin Bowling and injecting a decent amount of fun.
The final game is really only for the most fanatical Darts fans. As a serious Darts simulator, Top Darts looks as good as you would expect for a game that takes itself this seriously. There are a few fun distractions to the main league games, but when combined with the awkwardness of using the Move controller and the naturally dull gameplay that is Darts without the social aspect, this becomes the weakest member of the pack.
But in the end, it all comes down to personal taste and previous purchases. If you are a gamer who is frequently found throwing Darts in a pub, putting your money on the Pool table or organising Bowling nights, and you haven’t already purchased one of these games, then there will certainly be some entertainment to be found here. Otherwise, the three games are still fun, but have limited appeal.