Kinect Sports Review"My milkshake brings all the folks to the yard!"
I was extremely excited to see the first batch of titles when Microsoft's Kinect was released in November of 2010. Among the lineup were some pretty bad games that botched the gesture-based gameplay horribly, some that felt "alright" at best and then there was the shining gem on top of the pile: Kinect Sports. Rare, the talented folks behind Kinect Sports, has been on the record for saying that they've "only scratched 10 per cent of the possibilities of what we can do with Kinect." After enjoying jumping, kicking and running for many hours with my purple-haired Avatar, I get antsy to see what amazing things Rare can do with the remaining 90 percent!
Let's get this straight: Kinect Sports is NOT a collection of "mini-games," but a collection of stand-alone quality games bundled together in one neat package. Kinect Sports holds several game modes of Soccer, Table Tennis, Bowling, Track & Field, Boxing and Volleyball. I thought that I'd go into Kinect Sports enjoying Table Tennis the most and while the tight controls, killer AI and variety of modes made me like it, Soccer stole my heart. I'm American! I'm not supposed to like Soccer so much, Rare! Seriously, once you learn to point your toe towards the target, Soccer controls like a dream.
The games actively track your body to present the most fluid gameplay currently available on the Kinect. This 1:1 motion makes the movements needed to play the games feel true to their real-life counterparts. Bowling's arm-swinging moves feel totally natural and emulate the physical sport in every way except for the weighty ball in your hands. Boxing is much more complex than punching wildly at your opponent, because blocking is as important in Kinect Sports as it is in the ring. Volleyball and Track & Field take a few liberties with motion controls, such as standing in a large, pink indicator circle to return a volleyball over the net, or running in place to simulate a forward sprint. These gestures aren't exactly what you would in reality, but they mimic the sports so well that your brain will subconsciously agree that lifting your knees high quickly in succession as you throw an imaginary javelin feels natural in comparison to throwing an actual javelin. My favorite small touch is the ability to wave your arms and kick your feet for bonus distance in the long jump event.
Your Xbox 360's Avatar character takes the limelight in Kinect Sports, which adds a large personal touch for each player. No one wants to see the Avatar that you lovingly made to resemble yourself perform poorly at Volleyball or Bowling! The Party Play mode quickly gets any curious onlookers into the game with teams of people competing in short bursts of active gaming. Simply pick one of the adorable mascots such as Rapid Robot or Zippy Zombie and Kinect Sports instantly becomes the life of the party.
Two packs of downloadable content are available from Xbox Live to extend the life of Kinect Sports: The free Party Pack and the 320 Microsoft Point Calorie Challenge. Party Pack presents a robust selection of new ways to play the sports, including a hilarious fruit-smacking Volleyball hybrid called "Fruit Splatter" and score-based "Target Smash" Table Tennis game. Taking Kinect Sports in a new direction, the Calorie Challenge pits your activity level against six food-themed mascots. Each mascot represents a chunk of calories that you must burn in a set time period, such as Chunky Chocolate's steep 177 calories in 25 minutes of playing Kinect Sports challenges. It's time in gaming history where you can get fit and lose plenty of extra calories without stomping arrows on the floor to a Japanese pop song.
Kinect Sports surprised me- Sure, as a Rare fan Kinect Sports came at me from right field, but after taking some serious time to play with it I can safely say that it's an excellent genre for the crew at Rare to continue to explore. I know I'll be waited with baited breath for Kinect Sports Second Season when it hits the shelves this Fall, but I'm going to predict that I'll end up liking Skiing the most this time around since I have absolutely no interest in winter sports. Keep your eyes on Rare's future Kinect titles, as you'll never know how they'll tap into that remaining 90 percent…
-Arnold B. Carreiro
Developed by Rare
Published by Microsoft Game Studios
ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older
The Arnold B. Carreiro Rating System
A - Awesome! Why haven't you bought this yet? Go! GameStop doensn't close for another 2 hours!
B - Great game! It'll be something fun to play for a good while. It's better than most games, but shy of perfection for some reason. You should check it out!
C - Meh. It's not a BAD game, nor is it good. Enjoyment may be limited to a certain audience though. Perhaps some aspects of the title are great while others are bogged down by bad design/gameplay/etc.
D - Not too great... Too much of the game lacks polish to be appreciated to the general gaming public, but there might be enough here for someone to enjoy. Maybe...
F - A complete train wreck. Vampire Rain is the last "F" game I've ever played. The bargain bin is too good for an "F" game.