The core mechanics of the volleyball are pretty cut-and-dried, using an oscillating power meter to gauge your serves, using targets on the court surface to show where the ball is currently headed, and giving your spikes more power the longer you hold the button. In all, the gameplay is responsive, if a touch forgiving. Hard spikes are too easy to bump, and it's rare that you'll be unable to recover from a shot that ends up beyond the back line of the court, which makes for exceedingly lengthy volleys.
The game mercifully gives you the option to kill the commentary and skip the characters' speaking parts.
In keeping with the game's "extreme" presentation, there are a few specific mechanics in Outlaw Volleyball that set it apart from the other volleyball games on the market. Holding the R trigger will give you a short burst of speed, which is a helpful crutch early on, and downright necessary when you start playing against some of your tougher opponents. Your players have momentum meters that increase as you score points and can be tapped to perform high-powered spikes and serves, though the visual flourish given to these special attacks far outweighs their actual usefulness on the court. As you play, you'll regularly be given fight tokens, which can be activated just before a serve and put you and an opponent of your choice in a 2D fighting-game-style match. The player who wins the fight is given all of the other player's momentum. The fighting system is simple and clunky, consisting of a simple punch, a simple kick, and a simple block. Ultimately, all the gameplay mechanics that are used to set Outlaw Volleyball apart from other volleyball games, from the special attacks to the fighting system, feel like afterthoughts and don't really make the proceedings any more fun. If anything, they disrupt the pacing of the game and detract somewhat from the overall experience. At least you can toggle the fighting portion on or off.
Outlaw Volleyball looks great, featuring highly detailed, well-animated character models and varied environment designs. The frame rate can chug a little bit from time to time, but not so severely that it really hurts the gameplay--it's usually very smooth. The characters have been one of the big selling points of the game, which features almost toxic levels of naughty, Maxim-style sex appeal. The female characters are voluptuous to an idealized extreme and clad in the minimum amount of skintight Lycra that the law will allow, and they jiggle in a way that probably isn't even possible in normal Earth gravity. You cannot deny the technical merits of Outlaw Volleyball, but the game's laserlike focus on the pubescent male demographic may deter players outside that specific age range.
The problem with Outlaw Volleyball is that it's not really that bad at all, but there's potential here for a better game.
The sound design in Outlaw Volleyball is dominated by the game's announcer, who is voiced by Steve Carell from Comedy Central's The Daily Show. Though Carell brings more than enough enthusiasm to the job, the lines he's forced to read are riddled with lame sophomoric comedy that falls flat more often than not and becomes annoying quickly. The sharp wit Carell has displayed on The Daily Show makes the humorless jokes that much more disappointing. The game's characters also contribute their fair share of lame one-liners--usually having something to do with the broad stereotype upon which that particular character is based--though the game mercifully gives you the option to kill the commentary and skip the characters' speaking parts. Aside from all the chitchat, Outlaw Volleyball sounds OK, with good ambient sound from the crowd and a serviceable soundtrack predictably made up of licensed pop-punk, techno, and hip-hop. You can also rip your own custom soundtrack if you want.
Outlaw Volleyball is a pretty good game, though it could have been much better. The visuals are well done, the game mechanics work fairly well, and there are enough features and variety to keep someone engaged for a while. On the other hand, the game is filled with bad jokes and unnecessary frills, and the time spent on these elements could have probably been spent refining the game's more important qualities. At any rate, if you're looking for an online game of volleyball, it's nice to know that the only available option isn't a bad one.