The Xbox 360 Kinect, Microsoft’s new gaming toy, released to the world, only a few months ago. For those that don’t have it, you may wonder, how it is? How are the games? And most of all, do they work? Well, carry on reading to find out, about one of Kinect’s most popular game!
Kinect Sports, one of the first games to be released for Kinect, along with the also popular Kinect Adventures and Kinect Joy Ride. Kinect Adventures is a game, perfect for an active family, making you jump, duck, weave, and move around much of your room. A recommended game for a younger audience and their parents, but anyone over 14, may quickly get bored, unless trying to entertain youngsters. Kinect Joy Ride, a game, where you hold an airborne, invisible steering wheel, and drive your vehicle across many tracks, and through many clouds, and a quick pull back with your arms, and you’re going twice as quick. Joy Ride, a game made more for the older generation, as they can relate to real driving, but can satisfy the younger generation for some time, until they get bored.
Kinect Sports however, is the game, that can entertain any age, or sex, for numerous hours of joy. Kinect Sports get you moving, running and jumping all over the room, but without needing to much play space. Sports, gets you kicking a football, sprinting on the spot, throwing a javelin, smashing a volleyball and even beating up your friend, just virtually. Kinect Sports has three main game types; Main events, Mini games and Party Play.
Main events, is how it reads, the main events, here you get to play six different games; Football, Bowling, Track and Field, Boxing, Ping Pong and Beach Volleyball. I will start with what I consider to be the two best ‘Main Events’; Bowling, and Track and Field.
Bowling, like on, one of the Wii’s best selling games, Wii sports, is one of the most popular games, where up to 4 of your family and friends, online or offline can play together. An easy task of bowling a virtual ball, down a virtual lane, sounds simple, but it is anything but if you want to get strike after strike. Positioning of the body and feet in accordance to the lane, is just as important to the positioning of your arm that you are bowling with. As with all the games in Kinect Sports that involve an object you have to pick up, you get a choice of which hand to use, this chosen simply, by placing the chosen arm out to the side, to grab the object, in this case the bowling ball. Once you have positioned yourself with the lane, its just a simple lunge forward, and swing of the arm, just like you would do if you were bowling in reality. The pins fall down, collide and the most annoying of all, wobble, just like normal pins do in a lane. A strike is met with a nice snippet of well known music, flashing lights, crowds cheering, but most of all, a brilliant replay of your moment of glory. One of the best Main Events, and really shows off the power of the sensing of Kinect, Bowling will always compliment you with fun, when alone, or with friends. I believe Kinect Bowling is generally more fun and accurately presented then its main rival Wii Bowling. Although on the Wii, I believe that it is more accurate when trying to spin the ball, I also know that you can play Wii Bowling, when outside the room where your television is based, so not as much skill is needed. The Kinect Bowling has more accuracy with the body, involving your feet and body positioning as well.
Now enough about Bowling, as I go onto the Track and Field, another brilliant Main Event on Kinect Sports. Track and Field consists of five different small games, them being; 100m Sprint, 200m Hurdles, Long Jump, Discus and Javelin. I will concentrate mainly on two of these games, that contain all the skill needed for all the games. First of all, the simplest of these games, the 100m Sprint. A simple one this, just run on the spot, and watch, as your character sprints down the track, either leaping with joy at the end, or weeping in disappointment, depending on your result. Although it is quite that simple, there are a few hints that will give you the edge over your family and friends. As the starter calls ‘set’, a small crouch down, before you start, will give your avatar a super quick start, then its up to you to do the rest, until you get near the end, where another lean forward, will zoom you to the finish line, with exceptional speed, maybe even breaking the world record at the same time. Kinect takes a few things in to mind, when deciding how fast your running. Things like picking your knees up really high, will really help you in your journey to becoming world champion, and so will vast movement of your arms, in co-ordination with the legs. These two factors, will help you in the other three sports that also contain running, and when you want to gain maximum speed. Mastering this skill, will then help you in my next event, the Javelin. Another fairly simple event to do, but some techniques will work a lot more then others. Again it is a game where you have to grab the Javelin first, with your desired hand, by just grabbing it from the side. Then, with your chosen hand to the side, sprint, like before, as fast as you can, the faster you go, the faster that javelin goes. As you approach the ‘foul line’, the floor will turn orange, then green, as it hits green you need to throw that javelin hurling through the air, as fast as your little (or big in some cases) arms can make it. To throw, you simply throw an imaginary ball, or javelin if you wish in the air, and watch as your avatar, actually lets go of it, and it flies off into the distance, or lands right in front of your feet sometimes. On Javelin its all about finding your own tactic, to get that javelin to travel across the field as far as it can possibly go. The technology for the Javelin is brilliant, it really does take into account how you throw the javelin, what angle it is, what speed you throw your arm at. Javelin is a good sport to try on Kinect Sports, as you don’t need to be mega strong, or mega fast to win, just to master the technique from practice.
So that’s the ‘Main Events’ in a nutshell, probably the best section to play, whether your learning the basics, or if you’re already a master, you can still reap the same rewards and fun from it. Playing by yourself, or with a party of friends and family, ‘Main Events’ will keep you entertained for a long period of time. But there are still other games, that I haven’t discussed yet, that will test your skill even further, and make you try again, and again to break, not only the world record, but your personal records every time.
‘Mini Games’ another fun section of Kinect Sports, is packed with smaller games, where you have to break records, beat times, and try to survive against the meanest of computer opponents. ‘Mini Games’ is more suited to gamers playing by themselves, as you don’t get to play at the same time as your opponents, but you can still compete against them, just you would have to take it in turns, in the ‘play space’ (the ‘play space’ is a phrase often used in Kinect games, it refers to the space you have to use, and the space you will play in). I will once again, discuss two of these ‘Mini Games’ that are well suited to the game, and in my opinion, are the most enjoyable, ‘Super Saver’, and ‘Paddle Rush’. All games from the ‘Mini Games’ section, are taken from, and involve in some way, part of one of the ‘Main Events’.
Super Saver, taken from the Main Event ‘Football’, puts you in the feet of a goalkeeper, having to save penalty after penalty. As you stand on the spot, in the middle of the goal, a football Will be kicked at the goal you are defending, and it is your job to save that from entering the goal, thus saving yourself a lost life. As the game progress’ the saves get harder and harder, and you will find yourself jumping across your play space, to try and defend this ball, with any part of your body possible. On screen, a large indicator shows you where the football is going to go, and where you have to place any body part, preferably your hands, to successfully save the ball. You start with four lives, meaning only four balls are allowed to pass through your clutches until you lose, but can gain another life, every time you reach a multiple of twenty on your ‘shots saved’ record, so these being twenty, forty, sixty and so on. If this were to be played on such rival consoles as the Wii, or the PlayStation Move, the only body part able to save, would be your hands, but with Kinect, you can stretch out a leg, header forward, or even let it hit your torso, as Kinect will be monitoring all of your body throughout the game. ‘Super Saver’, an extremely addictive, yet surprisingly tiring Mini Game, a good one for when you’re alone.
Paddle Rush, taken from the Main Event ‘Ping Pong’, gives you two paddles, to hit back a Ping Pong ball across the table, but in this Mini Game, it’s not just one ball. As you yield both paddles, one in each hand, the computer player will continuously hit balls at you, slowly at first, then increasing with speed all the time. Your job is to hit as many back as possible, gaining a point for every ball hit back. On Paddle rush, you do not, unlike Super Saver’ lose a life for letting a ball go past, but in this game, you have a time limit, and every time ten balls are returned, you gain an extra five valuable seconds, to keep hitting the balls. The game finishes once the time has completely run out. If there was a similar game to this, there maybe, on the Wii, or PlayStation Move, both Kinect’s biggest rivals, I believe they would be equally as good in this game, as all that is needed is the hands, or controllers in the Wii and Move, so the responses would be the same, and no extra gain would come from Kinect’s controller free motion sensor. Paddle Rush, is definitely a game to play when you’re on your own, and can quickly bore you, but good to get in a few games and set records, especially if you want that all important gamer score.
So that’s the ‘Mini Games’ in a shorter more precise nutshell. Best to usually be played by yourself, but can be addictive to beat your own personal record again and again. There is one last kind of game type, that brings a whole party of people together, in deep competition and involvement.
‘Party Play’, the last section of Kinect Sports that is available. Party Play solely concentrates on 1 Vs 1 games, against your family members or friends. Simple to set up, and encourages great competition between players, both playing, and just watching. You have to split up your group of friends or family, into two teams, who will compete against each other for the ultimate prize of victory and the bragging rights. Party Play, will randomly choose a game, as you have to pick one person from each team, to compete. Some games may include both players to be in the play space at the same time, or some, such as long jump, will ask for them to take it in turns. Players compete for victory in each event, gaining one hundred points for victory, but only a dismal fifty points for those who lose. Throughout the selection of games, the points for both teams will be added up, and given a grand total at the end, celebrating the winning character, along with their team. Party Play can be great to play with a group of friends, as it guarantees every player a go, and brings rivalry, that not many other games could bring. For a quick, exciting time, when with a large group, Party Play will be a great success.
So that’s then Party Play, an event to be played with, and against, family and friends, encouraging rivalries and bragging between the players and teams.
That’s pretty much all of Kinect Sports wrapped up, from Bowling to Running, Saving to Hitting and rivalries to friendship. Kinect Sports can keep you entertained for a long period of time, whether alone, or with a party, the fun never stops. The motion sensors work great on Kinect Sports, picking up every movement that is needed to excel at every game. Sports doesn’t completely show off the motion sensors, and vast technology, but then neither does it need to, whereas some games, such as ‘Your Shape Fitness Evolved’, will even detect the movement of fingers, but as this isn’t required in Sports, they decided not to include that, but concentrate, and give more time to the important features, which are brilliantly exampled in all of the games on Kinect Sports. I believe Kinect Sports is better then it’s main rivals, being ‘Wii Sports’ and PlayStation Move’s ‘Sports Champions’, for one particular reason. My main reason is that of the use of the whole body, something that neither the Wii, nor the Move can apply, due to the only motion sensoring, being with the controllers, and not the system censoring the actual body. I believe, aspecially in a Sports game, it is very important, to not only take into the context the arms, but the legs to, and what they have to do. Take the running events for example, I remember playing the Wii, and just sitting on my chair, whilst moving my arms really quick to run, obviously not replicating any reel running at all, but when I go on Kinect Sports, I have to be standing, and actually running on the spot, moving my legs, otherwise my Avatar would not move. This makes for a much greater experience whilst playing the game. However, in some cases, I believe the technology of the Wii and the Move, can work better at some points in each game, then Kinect’s sensor. For games on Kinect, such as ping Pong, I believe that using a controller, included in the Wii and Move, would make the hitting of the ball more accurate, but this is only in a game where you would only need arms to play, and not the rest of the body, such as the legs. Generally, I believe the actual body censoring of the Kinect is better, and can provide a better experience, then any other console, or game. Kinect Sports, gets you the most involved out of any virtual sports game to have been released so far, due to all the factors that have been said during this review.
I hope that this Review has made you think of returning to Kinect Sports, buying Kinect Sports, or buying the whole bundle of the Kinect Sensor and Kinect Sports, as I can tell you from a first person experience, that it is definitely worth your hard earned cash. Kinect has it’s downs, but mainly it’s benefits to the player over it’s competition.
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