When we were done running through the different games that 'Kinect Sports Rivals' offered us, we found the experience to be rather pleasing. We didn't experience anything 'new' in this package of mini games, but we also didn't see anything broken with the classics.
'Kinect Sports Rivals' on the Xbox One is a sports video game developed by Microsoft Studios and published by the company Rare.
Whether we like it or not the gaming industry seems intent on adding 'motion based gaming' to our repertoire of possible titles. From the PS Camera and the Xbox Kinect all the way to the entire Nintendo line up, consoles of the future are making it a priority to get this style right. So the guys at Rare decided to capitalize on this burgeoning genre by dropping 'Kinect Sports Rivals'. The developers worked in association with Microsoft Studios to release a multiplayer, motion based gaming experience that would appeal to both adults and youngsters alike. The title released in April of 2014 and it quickly drummed up some support. We jumped in front of our Kinect in order to give the game a try. Let's see if you will be following in our motion tracked footsteps soon as well!
Multiple games, similar experiences..
With 'Kinect Sports Rivals' the goal of the experience is pretty obvious. The developers at Rare wanted to put you into competitive matches against your friends in family in easy to understand game modes. The different modes that come packed into 'Rivals' include: bowling, jetski racing, soccer, tennis, target shooting, and rock climbing. This game isn't too dissimilar to titles like 'Wii Sports' and we found that the games appealed to us in a very similar way.
If you haven't been following our writings then you won't know how much our confidence in motion gaming has dwindled. From trite motion beat 'em ups like 'Fighter Within' and under utilized motion cap segments in other sports games, we never got to buy into the style in this generation of consoles. Stepping back into something more casual, like 'Rivals', could be just what we needed to recalibrate what we expect out of the genre.
When we first booted up 'Rivals' we were glad to see that things were instantly smoother than we thought they would be. When you first start the game you need to import a new avatar for your character. Rather than go through the ultimately meaningless and superficial character building process, the Kinect instead scans you in the game. The camera captures all of the major aesthetics of your person as you stand in front of the camera. From your skin tone and hairstyle all the way to your height and relative weight, the game captures you pretty capably. I had glasses on the first time I got to play the game and those were even scanned in as well. Don't worry if you don't like your avatar, you can edit it traditionally afterwards and before you start playing.
Following the elaborate character creation session we were thrust into a tropical island that was presumably full of fun games and competitive multiplayer experiences. We weren't wrong and we quickly found that 'Rivals' offered us much more than we had anticipated. Let's dig into what the game does well by going game-by-game to analyze the features.
The first game that we tried out in the six pack was the JetSki racing feature. In this game mode you sit down in front of your television and hold up your hands in a relative approximation of your on screen avatar. Astride your water based vehicle you control the action by maneuvering your arms, pumping invisible gas pedals, and racing through large swathes of obstacle laden waters. This is a competitive game mode that errs on the side of frustration if you don't get the controls just right. Still, this is a fun racing game for the family.
The next game on the menu of our virtual sorta-decathalon was the rock climbing segment. In this game you race your opponents by grabbing handholds, using your fingers to motion gripping, while scurrying up various cliff faces. This is a simple game mode that sadly truly feels like a mini game. There isn't a lot of depth here and the inconsistent grip recognition reduces players to frustration.
Now we sort of get into the problematic games. We've already mentioned how recognition can sometimes slip from the Kinect camera during gameplay, and this gallery shooter may be one of the most flawed of all. In this game you use a finger gun to shoot towards the targets that fill up your screen. When the camera tracks you well the game is enjoyable. Accurately finger gun shooting targets out of the air is something right from our childhood. Sadly enough it is as often off as it is on.
The soccer game mode should bring in a lot of fans. The action on the screen may be more reminiscent of foosball but it is still fun. Hop between opposing defenders, pass the ball around, and try to get the ball into the opposing goal. The problems with this game are evident pretty quickly. Outside of how much stomping around you will be doing, control of the ball becomes a bit too hectic for us. The camera has trouble keeping up with truly hectic action and it quickly becomes a pain.
Tennis & Bowling
Rather than expounding too much on these classic games we decided to lump them together. We love a good game of not-so-popular sports, and the tennis and bowling games offer just the right dose that we need. These are professionals in the realm of motion sports (looking at you, Wii) and for the most part they play out alright. Tennis is as easy as flicking your wrist and bowling almost simulates the real thing, despite feeling a little bit floaty.
When we were done running through the different games that 'Kinect Sports Rivals' offered us, we found the experience to be rather pleasing. We didn't experience anything 'new' in this package of mini games, but we also didn't see anything broken with the classics. The competitive JetSki game will probably be the favorite in this pack thanks to its sunny atmosphere, cool water physics, and well integrated motion controls. This is a great title for families and party minded individuals.