Bocce Revolution - Steam PC Review

Bocce Revolution - Steam PC Review

QUICK GLANCE: Bocce Revolution

Platform: PC
Players: You could play a tournament with several people, but the main game is 1-2 player only.
Achievements: No
Steam Trading Cards: No
Controller Support : No
Retail Price: $14.99

High Level Premise: It’s a Bocce / Lawn Bowling “Simulator”

Graphics/Style: The graphics are clean, but very bland. Granted, it’s not an exciting topic, but there are several places they could have jazzed things up.

Music/Soundtrack: There’s some inoffensive ambient techno that plays in the background.

Story: No story. There is a tournament mode, but that’s as deep as this game gets.

Replay-ability: Replay-ability suggests there was Play-ability in the first place.

Time Commitment: A typical match against the computer opponent takes 25-30 minutes.

Value: There’s just not much game here.

Favorite Element: I actually love the concept of the game. It’s just the execution that’s lacking.

The "action" screen. But, what is my opponent looking at?

I often get mocked for liking video games about mundane games / sports like this. But when I’m bored, and it’s 2 AM, believe it or not, there are surprisingly few bocce courts / bowling alley / miniature golf courses / curling sheets open in the Central Ohio area. So it was with a bit of enthusiasm that I dove into Bocce Revolution because it’s just not something you come across everyday. After 10 minutes, I think I understand why.

There aren’t many game play options in Bocce Revolution. You can either play a single game or a tournament. You can use the more strict and complex “Raffa” rule set, or a simplified set. To be honest, I can’t really tell much of a difference. You can then play against the computer or another person. Those are all the options you get before starting a game! You don’t get to name your character or even choose your jumpsuit’s color. You do get to wear a jumpsuit though, so that’s pretty cool.

Moving on to the main game screen doesn’t really improve things. The best word I can think of is “sterile” the crowd is the typical cardboard crowd. They never move or react. Your opponent does stand around watching you creepily, but they never react, or even look at your shot while it is in motion. There is no other residual motion. The only real burst of energy in this game is the announcer. He makes every game sound like it is the most important event in recorded human history, and every good throw was sent from the Heavens. He’s quite hilarious and out of place given the relative serenity and blandness surrounding him. Unfortunately, he only has about half a dozen lines, so you’ll be hearing the same things often. 

He's staring directly into my soul!!  And definitely not at the world class throw I just made.

He's staring directly into my soul!!  And definitely not at the world class throw I just made.

To be 100% honest, I could overlook every bit of this if the game played well. For those that don’t know, Bocce is played very much like curling. The most notable difference would be that instead of throwing at a fixed target, you aim at a small ball called a pallino. This allows, the target to move throughout the game, which adds a new layer of strategy and some luck to the game.

If I were to describe the game play of Bocce Revolution in one word, it would be clunky. First off, you need to choose whether you are going to throw a strong or precision shot. If you choose a strong shot, you then have to pick one of the three types of strong shots (each one has different rule sets that dictate what you can throw at during that shot). Next comes aiming your shot. Aiming should be “point you mouse where you want to throw, and click” instead you get move and rotate buttons which each pull you into a sub-menu of left and right buttons to fine tune your shot. It’s a stunningly old school method of control. Everything about this game feels 10-15 years out of date. Finally, you get to throw your ball…and the frustration truly sets in.

I can't decide if my favorite part of this pic is my invisible chair, or the fact that everyone in the crowd has the exact same arm.

You see, you aim your shot exactly where you want it to go…but it never actually ends up there. The aim line seems to be some random percentage left of where you actually end up throwing the ball. This is problematic when the computer AI throws a perfect shot every single time with no exceptions. I’ve played a couple dozen games (yes, I gave it that much of a chance)…and not once has the computer missed their target by more than 6 centimeters. Now, if you play a tournament game, the AI starts the first game unable to hit the broad side of a barn from inside the barn…but quickly goes back into Robo-Bocce boss mode.

Have I mentioned that the game is glitchy as well? Strong throws only seem to have a 25% chance of actually working the way they are intended, even for the AI. A strong throw is usually meant to strike an opponent’s ball very hard, to remove it from scoring contention. I have seen many, MANY times where a strong throw hits the target ball…you HEAR the collision, but the target ball never moves. The thrown ball will fly harmlessly to the back wall. It’s a frequent problem as well. In the last game I played, the AI actually used all 4 of his throws to hit my ball, and failed all four times despite hitting my ball all four times.

So, we have sterile presentation, clunky controls, janky physics, and a $14.99 price tag. I’m bitterly disappointed in this product. I actually do think an interesting bocce game could exist, and would be somewhat successful. I believe there is interesting strategy and challenge to playing well. It’s just not there in this game.

The game of bocce (known also as bowls or bocce ball) is an ancient sport that requires skill, strategy and a little bit of luck. Bocce Revolution allows you to experience the thrill of a great game of bocce by challenging your friends or the computer.
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