Since the launch of the Kinect in
Australia, this new technology for the XBox 360 has really taken off.
Although we've seen a fair share of bad and mediocre Kinect games,
there's a couple that standout from the crowd such as Kinect Sports.
Kinect Sports may just be another Wii Sports clone but after a good
workout session and in my professional and personal opinion, it is a far
superior product thanks to the Kinect technology.
What about originality? Kinect Sports may
not offer the world of gaming the next blockbuster controller-less or
motion controller sports title but it has definitely refined this genre
in terms of accuracy. Another cool aspect of Kinect Sports is that the
atmosphere is quite fun and spontaneous which I'm guessing is due to the
fact that were Rare developers this title.
As soon as the disc was loaded by XBox 360,
we were greeted to a fun and intuitive menu system that supports up to
4-players (local and online multiplayer), a 2-player co-op mode, an
interesting Party Mode plus some mini-games. It's also good that
Rare have kept the menu system quite simplified as opposed to the
sometimes convoluted menus of some Kinect games. Thankfully there is a bare minimum
of options and all you need to do is hold your hand over it and it will
select what you want.
The games of Kinect Sports are quite varied
which include Beach Volleyball, Boxing, Championship Bowling, Soccer
Team, Table Tennis and Track and Field. Best of all, the games work
quite well with the Kinect and we enjoyed all games. The first game off the ranks
Beach Volleyball that allows you to bump, set and spike the ball over
the net. Even though you have no ball, the controls are actually quite
accurate which surprised me. It's a fun experience that works on all
levels, thanks to the sturdy gameplay.
Boxing on the other hand and just like
UbiSoft's Fighters Uncaged which felt a little unresponsive. The first thing that
most people want to do when they play boxing is lunge at their opponent
one hundred miles an hour but unfortunately this does not work like that. However
compared to some other boxing games (Wii, PlayStation Move and Kinect)
because of the simplified controls, it done an acceptable job. This is
probably the weaker game of this release.
One of my favourite games was Championship
Bowling. Initially I was a little apprehensive about this title because
it didn't feel right to "bowl". With Wii Sports and because of the
controller, it does help trick your brain better as opposed to
pretending you are holding a ball. The most difficult shots to pull off
in Championship Bowling is when you have only a few pins left because
trying to get that imaginary accuracy is a little difficult.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed this game.
Depending on what difficulty level you play
Soccer Team was another highlight of Kinect Sports. On the easier
levels, the game feels like a limited Wii Sports title but on something
more challenging, the game does give you a run for your money. Your goal
is simple, kick the football into the goals but you have access to your
entire team to assist. If you kick the ball to another team mate, you
automatically swap characters. If your opponent has the ball, you need
to move either left or right to intercept the ball. Scoring goals is the
highlight though, thanks to the various short modern rock songs that are
played when you score.
Track & Field is another fun game really
gets your heart-rate up because of the various events like discus,
sprint and hurdles. All the games translated well to the Kinect and
whether you were running on the spot "pretending" that you were in a
sprint or attempting to jump the hurdles, all in all it worked quite
well. The other two games in Track & Field are long-jump (another cool
experience) and Javelin (so-so).
Finally we have Table Tennis, reminiscent
of tennis on the Wii and is a little strange at first because you have
nothing in your hands. Once your brain gets over this fact, you can
really knock up on some long matches as the no control format is quite
accurate in recognising your different types of hits. If you still want
some more Kinect Sports entertainment, you can engage with other players
(local and online multiplayer) or try one of the mini-games. The
Mini-games are just variations of the main games and are considerably
shorter. For example, you can play either of the Track & Field events or
just play the goalie in soccer. I also enjoyed Paddle Panic that
basically continues to shoot balls at you and you have to hit them away. They are fun but clearly not as enjoyable as the
Local multiplayer works but you just need to ensure you have
the space to successfully play as Kinect is definitely a space hog.
Two player split screen is the best though, because it gets another
person involved for fun. Online is average but nothing is more entertaining than playing against
friends and family such as Party Mode that allows a large group of
people the chance to compete in all the mini-games. Party Mode supports 12
players with two teams of six with both teams vying for the top score. And then you have all
the highlights of your Kinect Sports games. After you complete an event,
the game will show you some "highlights" from your play... most look
quite bad because it generally ends up taking a photo of you looking
quite uncoordinated... amusing to say the least.
Graphically speaking, Kinect Sports is a
"casually" good looking game. The game uses your XBox Avatars to star
in the various sport games and the stadiums and various sporting
environments look quite colourful and cartoony. The games themselves
real-world settings quite well such as the bowling alley or the
colourful tropical beach for beach volleyball. The sound effects suit the
events perfectly as do the awesome sound bites from various modern pop
songs such as "Shut up and Drive" by Rihanna. Even though
these songs are short licensed samples, it really gets you bopping when
Kinect Sports is fun. Simple! Not only does
this showcase the Kinect but the developers have highlighted the
potential of this wireless control system. More importantly, all the
games are fun to play but like the saying, the more the merrier. Good
graphics, great licensed music and fun gameplay, Kinect Sports is a must
have title for your 360!