Kinect Sports Review

Kinect Sports (Available exclusively on Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1-4
Genre: Sports
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Rare
Release Date: November 4th, 2010

Xbox Live: Online Multiplayer

I’ve never felt excited about motion sports compilations. I always prefer the NHLs, Maddens or FIFAs of the gaming world to these brief “mini-games” if you will. That’s not to say that Wii Sports Resort or Sports Champions aren’t worthwhile. I just don’t think they’re as much as say, Tiger Woods PGA Tour. To their targeted audiences, the “motion sports” genre offers some of the best games out there.

Has Kinect Sports change my attitude then?  Not really.  Do I have a blast playing it?  Surprisingly, yes.  Using your whole body for the games is only possible with Kinect.  Using your feet for soccer especially doesn’t grow old.  However, a few offerings would’ve benefited from simple button-pressing.  One of my E3 2010 complaints was that most of the games are on-rails.  This remains true today.  That doesn’t mean the games are less fun, but they do feel more like mini-games than full-fledged sports games.  There are good ideas here though; some that hopefully will be integrated in future individual sports releases. Following are my thoughts on the game’s six different sports:

Soccer:

I actually played this with my dad, and the video we captured afterward is the most hilarious I’ve ever seen.  The best aspect of Kinect is that anyone can jump in and play; there are no button input tutorials necessary.  My dad hasn’t played a videogame since Super Mario Bros. 2. Kinect Soccer might be on rails, but kicking the ball around is a lot of fun.  I popped online for a quick match, concluding that to be the meat of the game.  My opponent quit after I gained a two-goal lead, but I the potential is there for heated XBL matches.  There’s also an awesome goalkeeper mini-game that silences anyone who claims Kinect doesn’t translate 1:1 motion.

Bowling:

Bowling is fun, but doesn’t stand out. This is an example of where buttons would be a benefit.  It’s rare, but the camera at times don’t recognize when you’re releasing the ball.  The ratio is about 1:15, but it’s still an issue that some will be annoyed by.  Even so, it’s a solid element of the package. It’s another option anyone can quickly jump into and enjoy.

Track and Field:

Throwing the javelin and the discus is awesome, but the rest of the activities are an afterthought.  You just run in place; hoo-ray? Nothing more to mention here, but watch the epic race below between Jarrod and I to see for yourself.

Boxing:

I don’t like boxing games in general, and this didn’t change that.  The hit detection is random at times, and strategy barely applies.  I’m sure others could master it better, but the boxing is weakest in my eyes.

Beach Volleyball:

Just like Kinect Soccer, Volleyball is an on-rails game that’s too charming to pass. The actions are a cinch to execute.  It’s mostly effortless initially, but becomes harder.  You also can’t cheat, and absolutely must jump in order to pull off a spike. I learned that the embarrassing way.  If anyone lives underneath you, this won’t be their favorite game.

Table Tennis:

I have mixed reactions regarding the ping pong game. On one hand, motion is mostly 1:1, so top and back spins are possible with a quick wrist tilt.  There are slight delays here and there, but it’s expected for a fast-paced game.  Remember though, Rockstar developed Table Tennis some time ago that, to my opinion, stands as one of the best 360 sports games. Playing a Kinect Table Tennis couldn’t possibly entertaining someone who’s experienced Rockstar’s game before. It’s not bad, just something done better.

Can this be done on other consoles?

Yes and no. For some games, Kinect provides the better alternative. For soccer, using your feet is crucial and couldn’t be replicated elsewhere.  However, Bowling or Archery really need buttons.  I’m convinced that Kinect can offer unique sports gaming experiences, but there will be some things better done on Wii or PS3.

The Lowdown:

I’ve had a lot of fun with Kinect Sports, despite not caring for the genre.  Of all the launch games, I think this will be the top seller, and that’s fine by me.  Six games, with some better than others, are joined by a dozen mini-games for good measure.  Kinect Sports demonstrates the full potential of the defunct “Project Natal”. I can see a fantastic baseball game coming out of this.  Imagine being the pitcher, while a friend is the catcher calling the shots. The batter could be an online adversary. Speaking of online, every game is fully XBL-compatible, meaning Kinect Sports could stay in your 360 for a while.  It’s not perfect of course.  Some of the games aren’t as polished as they could be. Perhaps more unique games like Football and Hockey could have been included too. Bottom line is, Kinect Sports is a solid launch title.  It surprised me, but I expect major improvements for the inevitable sequel.

7 thoughts on “Kinect Sports Review”

  1. Sorry Steven, the only one I tried was the table tennis and I think you are giving it too much props.

  2. @AppetitePat:

    The ping pong game is ok… just not something that I see myself playing it ever. It did get thumbs down.

    You have to try the soccer game however. I thought it was stupid at LA because it’s a soccer game on rails. But man is it fun to play, especially when you set the AI on the hardest difficulty. I got owned 4-0 against them, the trick is to anticipate where they will kick the ball. Once you know that, its a bit easier. Still it’s hard as hell to score on them, you have to be lighting fast. I wish more people had this because Kinect Soccer would be a blast to play online.

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