So, now that the Kinect is finally out (and we’ve spent the last day and a half playing it, hence our lack of comprehensive updates – sorry), what’s the verdict on one of the device’s biggest games, Kinect Sports? Well, aside from our complaints that the game wasn’t chosen as the ideal Kinect pack-in (that duty was left to the moderately enjoyable Kinect Adventures, which we’ll review soon), it’s a pretty good sports compilation. In fact, it provides plenty of competition for Wii Sports, which is what Microsoft had in mind, we think.
The game features a variety of sports activities, including beach volleyball, bowling, track and field, boxing, table tennis and soccer. Most of them are pretty easy to get into, simply by using your hands and legs to mimic real actions as a real athlete would. For boxing, for example, you’d hold up your arms to defend your face, then swing high and low at your opponent until you bring them down for the count. As for bowling, you’d execute a real bowling throw, only without the three-step run-up like you’d do on the real lanes.
There are occasions when your movements aren’t clearly read, resulting in a bowling ball taking a crack into the lane (you do get an Achievement for the humility, thankfully) or your moves being slightly mistimed. But, really, it’s not that big a deal, as the controls are mostly accessible, as long as you properly calibrate your Kinect – which should be simple to do through the main menu.
Along with the main six activities, you can also engage in Party Play against another player via two-player. You stand side by side in the action, working together as a volleyball team or trying to score goals in soccer. It’s a mostly fun party activity, but you’ll want to make sure you allow plenty of room to each side in order for the sensor to properly read you. Otherwise, you’ll never get a game started. It would’ve been ideal for the camera to have some sort of zoom-out option to accommodate those with smaller rooms.
In addition, several mini-games are also included, providing some variety to the sports activities you’re taking part in. Overall, they’re great, and will help prolong this game’s replay value well into the next year, when Rare and Microsoft will no doubt return with a sequel. It also takes photos of you over the course of your game, showcasing your best moves after the end of each match. This is a great idea, but you might want to be prepared for it, as you might accidentally post them online.
While Kinect Sports won’t change the way you look at sports compilations when it comes to presentation, it’s very good. The graphics represent each sport perfectly, from the Cosmic Bowling-like vibe on the lanes to the beautiful soccer field you try to score points on. Having your Avatars present and accounted for is a huge bonus, along with the plethora of outfits you can unlock. The game also contains various music snippets, including everything from Queen to the Beach Boys to M.C. Hammer. “Can’t Touch This” is clearly a standout after scoring a strike or winning a table tennis match. Um, right? The sound effects are otherwise basic, but that’s okay.
Wii Sports has got some competition breathing down its neck with Kinect Sports. While the game doesn’t support much outside of two-player competition (and even that’s questionable) and has its reading issues, it’s a well-planned collection that you shouldn’t hesitate to pick up with your Kinect device. Let’s hit the lanes!