The first real endurance Kinect game that aims to get you shaking, jumping and bouncing around your living room all in the name of supposed fun and competiveness is available now on Xbox One. Kinect Sports Rivals from Rare and Microsoft Studio’s is a collection of mini-games with a funky soundtrack and all-new Kinect Sports Rivals Hub. Sadly despite the bright funky on-screen colours and new cartoon-like muscle men Avatars, the game is a lacklustre bore-fest that will rather have you dancing at the menu screen to club-hit songs from Neo and other popular artists instead of wasting all that energy listening to one of the worst gaming coaches in history. That’s right, an irritating coach aims to guide you through every single course before you can even jump right in and play the game – I found the grating voice and pointless tutorial missions enough to force me to switch off and play again later.
Kinect Sports Rivals was previously delayed from its original intended release date for improvement, but what it strikingly noticeable from having played Kinect Sports on Xbox 360 is that latency and accuracy is (or at least appears) perfected on next-gen. Kinect on Xbox One is very responsive and I was very impressed with the Avatar generator within Kinect Sports Rivals that was able to just scan me right into the game and magically take my attributes and overlay them as part of the cartoon-like muscle men. A few tweaks for hair colour and facial hair was needed here and there, but the process felt very futuristic and left me feeling all warm and fuzzy that gaming technology was able to do this. It was if ‘Finally’ we have the Kinect technology that Microsoft portrayed the Xbox 360 Kinect to be – and we all know that never really lived up to the hype, but Kinect on Xbox One really has potential to be something magical if its uses just within Kinect Sports Rivals is anything to go by. Combined with the Kinect Sports Rivals Hub you can challenge your Avatar with other family members and users around the world and share him or her on popular social networks if you choose.
Kinect uses 100% integration on Kinect Sports Rivals as the motion sensor can track even more of your body than ever before, facial expressions, fingers, toes and probably even penis if it had a use in-game, but generally what you can touch you can also speak; and Kinect recognises the voice commands without any annoying repeated commands. It all works mighty fine and comes together to be the best Kinect experience yet for Xbox One, but my issue was that in terms of gameplay it left me wanting a better experience overall because it only has six mini-games included. Bowling, Rock Climbing, Target Shooting, Soccer, Tennis and Wake Racing are the game types that you get to experience, but only Wake Racing feels like the meat of the game as you get to experience what you might have already played to death in Kinect Sports Rivals Pre-Season which has been available for free since the Xbox One launch. Speeding around on your water jet is not an easy task as learning to use your hands as handle-bars instead of racing wheel takes some practice before you perfect it. In-between dodging explosives, using power-ups and zapping over speed ramps; this is the best mini-game of them all.
Rock climbing is another enjoyable experience as you use your arms to grab on to the rock formations and heave yourself further up the course. Kinect can track how high and low you are moving your arms to determine the distance you are able to project as if you were climbing a real rock climbing wall. Don’t be afraid to look a bit scary in front of your friends and family on this one as unless they knew what you were doing you will look like your mimicking some kind of bad exercise DVD! Both Rock Climbing and Wake Racing are the best two mini-games of the six available. Each of the others feels a bit like cheap inclusions to yet again match something Wii Sports churns out.
Crap Bowling, Crap Soccer and Crap Tennis is hardly anything next-gen and inspirational. It would have been nice to have played a few never-been-done-before games for the Xbox One and something that can really demonstrate the power of Kinect at its fullest potential, but Kinect Sports Rivals lacks originality. As you can already imagine with Bowling since I am convinced many gamers have already played this with Kinect Sports on Xbox 360 or on the original Wii Sports – it’s just the same only with better visuals. Soccer and Tennis are still not the absolute worst mini-games available, but Soccer just seems to be about kicking your leg to shoot the ball in a direction to other digital players. This is nothing sporty in the slightest as the game appears to resemble fuse-ball more than anything else. It’s downright awful and completely boring. Tennis is a whole lot better than Soccer, but still nothing over intense as you are giving guides on where the ball is likely to land from your opponent making it far more easier than it should have been and unlike soccer where you just kick a leg, with Tennis you simply just swing an arm instead so Kinect will pick up that it’s a shot in the direction you’re aiming.
The worst mini-game of them all is Target Shooting, despite all the graphical fancy environments to look at; the base of it is that you simply point a reticle marker on a board without actually shooting. This is an absolute embarrassment of a mini-game that is just about moving your hand and nothing else. It is both shocking and ridiculous that it should have even been considered a mini-game. To refer to it as Target Shooting is an even bigger joke considering the game shoots for you – it’s pointless in every sense as you match the reticle with a coloured circle on the screen and voila you’ve done Target Shooting!
Kinect Sports Rivals is just not the Kinect Sports title I was hoping for with just six mini-games and only two of which are considered enjoyable. The game presents itself as a competitive game show that focusses heavily on coach training and Avatar creation to disguise and distract you from the very basic games on offer. It all appears very fancy with impressive visuals and some stunning background environments, but the basic gameplay and lack of anything sporty doesn’t warrant this game to be a worthwhile purchase. It shows exactly how much more responsive Kinect is now from its predecessor on Xbox 360, but I think an Xbox One Kinect Adventures would have been the better game for development.
Kinect Sports Rivals should have been scrapped, not delayed.
Thank you to Xbox for providing the review game to thisisxbox.com
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