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Sports compilations are without a doubt the most generic idea for a motion-based game. It’s been done multiple times on separate consoles. This is one of the reasons Kinect Sports has been looked down upon since its announcement. There did seem to still be some hope, Rare (the geniuses behind Kameo: Elements of Power, Banjo-Kazooie, Goldeneye, and many more) was developing the game and Kinect is something completely different than other motion controls seen before. Did the hope we have for Kinect Sports get squandered by sheer mediocre gameplay? Or is Kinect Sports really worth a purchase?
Kinect Sports is separated into 6 different sports to play, almost all of which are strong, responsive, and just plain fun to take part in. Soccer seemed to be the biggest wild card for me coming into the game. In soccer, you have a defender in front of you, and have to kick the ball by him to try and advance the ball down field, then eventually getting to the goal and making a goal kick. You also play defense which is the same thing but with slight tweaks, you’re bobbing back and forth to block oncoming passes, and then having to block goal shots.
This all works near flawlessly. The accurate tracking of your feet and hands make for a seriously realistic and exciting game. The main problems I had were at times the Kinect sensor wouldn’t track the correct foot I kicked with if I was moving both while kicking the ball (though only making a kicking motion with one foot). The result of this is the ball going to the opposite person you had planned on passing it to. And on top of that, the kicks never feel like they have the real “oomph” to them that they should; in particular, the goal shots. Though these issues occasionally frustrate, playing soccer in Kinect Sports works well and can give you a good amount of fun if you’re playing in a big enough space.
That seems to be the biggest issue with all of these Kinect Sports titles, they need more space than games such as Kinect Adventures and Dance Central. You need a good amount of arm and leg room around you, even in singleplayer. When you play multiplayer, if you don’t have a lot of space, you’re going to be running into your partner and getting frustrated constantly. When you’re not accidentally punching your friend, the multiplayer is really fun. Apart from boxing, all of the games work well with multiplayer and (again, as long as you have enough space) Kinect hardly ever has a misstep.
One of the best sports in Kinect Sports is the Track and Field event. In Track and Field, you have to play Sprint, Hurdles, Long Jump, etc. and see who can have the highest total score at the end of all the games. You obviously feel like an extreme idiot while playing these games but they never ceased to put a smile on my face as I was playing them. I was laughing just about as much as I was running in place.. By yourself, Track and Field is still moderately fun. But get some friends together, and the Track and Field sport will keep you entertained for hours.
In a sports compilation game, there has to be that one sport that pops its head out of the ground and says “I’m not very good.” In Kinect Sports, that sport is boxing. It’s the most tedious thing located within the Kinect Sports package as you can literally flail your arms at your opponent to win. Unless you decide to place it on a higher difficulty which just means you’re going to get knocked out within 2 minutes instead of doing the same to your opponent. No match in boxing is exciting in any way and the sport altogether is an absolute bore to play.
The biggest downfall throughout Kinect Sports is the animation. Some of the animations (Like in Ping Pong) are really good and mimic your entire body. Some other sports, such as soccer, decide to mimic only one part of your body (normally your legs). This can result in some seriously hilarious replays that feature your character slightly moving his/her leg but making the soccer ball blast forwards like lightning. What’s even worse, is in bowling when you’re playing against the computer AI, they never show their actual bowling animation. They just cut away and say “this is what they scored.” This is nothing that immediately makes the game terrible but it shows a serious lack of devotion from the developers to make every inch of their game polished and that’s something I wouldn’t expect from Rare.
Other fairly impressive sports in Kinect Sports include the aforementioned Ping Pong and Beach Volleyball. Ping Pong is very traditional yet works very well to the point where it’s ten times more fun to play this version than the Wii Sports Resort version. Beach Volleyball can have its issues, such as being very repetitive and certain games lasting way too long because the computer decided to be indestructible, but having to actually perform all the moves you’d do in a normal Volleyball game is what makes this volleyball game as entertaining as it is. Volleyball also gives you the most exercise you can get in Kinect Sports. By the end of one of the games, you’ll be huffing and puffing like a smoker. Except you’ll be much healthier.
In a Kinect launch lineup that is fairly mediocre, Kinect Sports shines. It’s an absolute blast to play and will keep you entertained for hours, even if you’re just playing by yourself. The tracking of your body is mostly perfect and makes for one of the finest examples of what the Kinect technology can do. Kinect Sports is a must own for people who enjoy sports, or even just enjoy getting some friends together and looking like idiots, but having a ton of fun while doing it.