If you’re one of the millions of owners of the Xbox One console, you might find it odd that the Kinect camera has barely any motion control games. Though It’s likely that you use at least some of the integrated functionality, it’s hardly something that is likely to impress your guests. Enter the much-loved Rare with a late entry : Kinect Sports Rivals.
With six events, a bevy of online leaderboards and competitive ladders, downloadable content and three teams offering to take you in, the icing on the cake should be the voxel-powered avatar generator which creates a model of your face and body to use in-game. So why is it that for me the generator is about the only thing worth visiting?
Frankly, I didn’t get far into the storyline, and it’s not due to lactose intolerance. Yes, everything suffocates under a layer of cheese, but what I found was that some games, such as soccer and tennis, simply did not read well enough to be able to reasonably continue. Due to an injury to my Achilles tendon, it hurts to walk, and now all but the shooting minigame aggravates my foot. I reached my frustration point before that however, and am comfortable my exposure to the content to give the game a fair assessment..
The DLC offered within is also a sad state of affairs – buying costumes for a single event for your in-game avatar puts Oblivion’s famous Horse Armor to shame. Don’t get me wrong – running around wearing a spandex advertisement for Battletoads isn’t the worst thing in the world, but at the three dollar price point it would equate to 5% of the value of Kinect Sports Rivals, and that one outfit you’d have to buy six times to have it represented in each event.
Speaking of which, the six events that Kinect Sports Rivals offers are wave racing, a standing-around version of soccer, rock climbing, target shooting, bowling and the worst implementation of tennis we’ve seen in a game in quite some time. In fact, I’m going to dive into the ugly to get it out of the way.
Tennis was good when it worked, but sometimes it was like it was entirely disconnected. Using either minor, normal or even exaggerated motions yielded no consistency for reads on serves and returns. This caused the most frustration as I would expect it to simply work and was baffled when it couldn’t even get a simple serve right – especially when it was simply repeating an action I completed just moments before.
Rock climbing was a better experience, as I was able to move around without too many issues, but I did find I had to fiddle with the Kinect as reaching up high could go outside of the sensors range. For reference, I am under six feet tall, the Kinect is perched atop my television and I was in what is considered the sweet spot.
Bowling is far more refined in its execution, but given that we’ve been bowling in motion-games since the dawn of the Wii, I found it to simply be an HD iteration – no more, no less. I enjoyed playing this part of the game most.
Last is the wave-racing, where you have some beautiful water effects, fairly predictable control of your watercraft, and a mix of still water alongside open sea waves and ramps to trick off of. The ramps and environments lend themselves to finding the best path around the map, however with no power-up pickups (you are limited to selecting before the race, and have no in-game boosts otherwise) it felt like a good start but not enough to carry the rest of the game. I also found that steering lacked a lot of cues one might expect, and was frequently drawn to the mines.