Are you ready for Kinect Sports Rivals? Here’s our review.
Kinect Sports Rivals is the new game from Rare Studios, who brought us such games as Kinect Sports on the Xbox 360. This time the sports take place on an island, and the scenery is amazing.
The first thing you need to do before you can play is set up your Champion. This involves you standing in front of Kinect whilst being scanned. The whole process only takes a few minutes, and to give you an idea of how it works, here is a video I made during a recent visit to Rare Studios:
Unlike previous Kinect games, this process seemed to work very well in a small room (the room I did the review in, not the canteen at Rare). I was particularly impressed how it detected I was wearing glasses and asked me to remove them, and later in the process told me I could now put them back on. I know it’s only a small touch but I liked it. All through the creation process the voice of David Tennant guides you through what you need to do, so that will certainly be a plus for some people.
Once your Champion has been created you can easily tweak various features such as hair colour, facial hair and so on. Once you are happy it’s time to move on to the game itself.
You are introduced to your Coach who explains how the controls work and what you need to do – then it’s straight into the first sport – Wake Racing. This was included as part of the Kinect Sports Rivals Pre Season free download when the Xbox One was released, so if you played that you will be familiar with how it works. Once you have completed all the requirements it’s time for you to race in a team event. Only one you have completed this team event will you move onto the next event, and only once you have completed all the team event sports will you be able to play whichever sport you want.
Wake Racing has five different courses to play and this is one of the sports that actually works well if you are sitting or standing.
Bowling was one of the original Kinect Sports games and it makes a welcome return here. This version of bowling provides better control over the ball and you can even see if you hand is open or closed.
Climbing was one of those sports that I wasn’t really that bothered about playing – then I played it and I found that I really enjoyed it. There are six different courses to play on and it is a lot of fun to actually pull your opponent off the wall and watch him fall – er, I mean use skill to pass by your opponent. Yeah, that’s it. You can also do little jumps to help get you to the top quicker. You do need to make sure that you have enough space in the room you are playing in though, more so than any of the other sports, with the possible exception of Tennis.
Soccer is another returning game from Kinect Sports – this time you have a wall of virtual defenders you need to get past in order to score that elusive goal.
Target Shooting was designed to offer the variety of a low-effort, high-impact sport with plenty of visual feedback. It’s a real test for your powers of observation, memory and strategy; being able to steal your opponent’s targets makes for great disruptive play, especially in split-screen. You can even move your body to dodge incoming fire. I actually found this one quite frustrating at first, but eventually you get the hang of it.
Tennis was originally in Kinect Sports: Season 2, and it makes a welcome return. It’s actually the sport I enjoyed the most although your arms ache after playing it for a while, so at least you get a work out! Like Climbing, you do need to make sure you have enough room to play.
Overall I thought Kinect Sports Rivals was a fun game. The use of Kinect 2.0 was very good (I honestly don’t believe that Kinect 1.0 could have done anything near what this does) and means that I didn’t need a room the size of a small car park to play it. Yes, there are times when the game tells me that I am slightly out of range or to move a bit when I haven’t really moved, but it’s easy to adjust position and carry on (as long as you have some room). Don’t get me wrong though, there is certainly a lot of room for improvements with Kinect. You can also you voice commands to navigate around the menus if you need a rest from moving your arms around!
One thing that can be a little frustrating is the amount of time you spend sitting watching loading screens. You really want to be playing so having to wait what feels like an eternity isn’t great. Also you can’t skip the cut-scenes either!
Also it would have been nice to have had the opportunity to just jump in with some quick play of a particular sport rather than having to go through the training, then the team events, but you only have to go through that once though.
The Champion creation process was really slick and whilst it wasn’t necessarily perfect it was very easy to tweak your look, and in fact, that can be quite fun too!
Kinect Sports Rivals is not a game aimed at hardcore gamers – it’s aimed at people who want to have fun, play as a family or with a group of friends, and just have a laugh, and at that is succeeds. Yes, some of the games are more fun than others, and some of them work better than offers, but overall you will have fun, and that’s what its all about after all. The only real downside is the room size requirements, although they are certainly better than on previous games. Just make sure you have as much space as possible to play the game or you will find yourself getting frustrated.
With more sports to be added over the coming months, I am looking forward to seeing what else Kinect Sports Rivals brings to the party.
Thank you to Xbox for the review copy.