Kinect Sports Rivals is RareWare‘s newest attempt at trying to get players to set down a controller in favor of hopping on your feet and getting more involved in the action on screen. Is Kinect Sports Rivals a must have Kinect title? Short answer: not quite.
The game begins with you creating an avatar that you can either use the Kinect to scan your face and upload it into the game or you can have the game randomly generate an avatar for you. After that you select your body build and get thrust into a series of sports events, after a bit of time with each you’ll realize that some control a bit better than others. The game consists of several different modes ranging from Training Modes that inform you of how each sports is played to quick play, and a forgettable story mode.
The story mode has you as your avatar going up against various teams who all want you to prove how great of a sports star you are and beat someone on their time to earn their respect. Before you do each sports event you’re given a tutorial lesson by a character aptly named Coach. His attempts at humor may give you a slight chuckle or two but after seeing him a few times I began to get tired of his banter. Besides the sometimes cringe worthy dialogue of Coach, the game does a pretty good job of teaching you the controls for all six sports events the game has to offer.
The sports in the spotlight in the newest Kinect Sports title are Wave Races, Tennis, Bowling, Climbing, Soccer, and Target Shooting. Among these I’d say the stand out mini games here are Wave Races and Bowling. Reason being is because these control the best out of the 6 mini games on hand. The game with the weakest motion detection by far is Tennis. Kinect Sports Rivals does a fairly decent job with the other games as far as detecting your arm and hand movements but Tennis feels a bit wonky especially when it comes to the backhand motions and those hard to reach volleys from you A.I. opponents.
As far as unlockable content in the game is concerned, each event has requirements for unlocking extra equipment such as unlocking a certain amount of XP or getting a certain number of fans or credits in order to unlock the new equipment for each sport. They even threw in unlockable Killer Instinct decorated sports equipment to wear in game. Whichever event you’re competing in you’ll earn XP towards unlocking stuff such as unlocking new bowling balls, outfits, jet skis, target shooting guns and various soccer balls. Each piece of equipment has its own specific stat boosts. Unlocking all this however will require you to play through the events multiple times and believe me you will grow tired of them after the 4th or 5th time doing those events.
Waves races require you to reach the finish line in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place. You must hold your hands out and tilt one towards your body to simulate steering a jet ski and in order to activate your ability depending on which jet ski you picked, you have to use the somewhat unreliable voice controls with the Kinect. I often found myself saying “Speed Boost” 3 or 4 times before the Kinect would register what I was saying and my television wasn’t even turned up loud enough for the Kinect to not pick up my voice commands. The motion controls work well enough but as I stated above after doing this a few times it does get a bit stale.
Bowling is a pretty self explanatory event and the Kinect does a decent job of picking up your position on the bowling lane and where the ball goes. It’s not exactly hard or particularly noteworthy but its fun to play if you have a couple of friends over and want to enjoy a decent bowling game for a few minutes.
Soccer is some sort of strange foosball type minigame where you must perform a series of kick either off the side of your foot for light hits or by lifting your leg for strong kicks while you teleport around the field. All while A.I. opponents shuffle from side to side trying to stop you from passing the ball to yourself. Hit the ball enough times in succession and you charge the ball up for a powered up kick which flies in the goal faster and looks a bit flashier than your standard kick. Whether you score or not the A.I. knocks the ball back down to your side of the field and tries to score on your goal which you must block using your hands or you can punch the ball to send it flying down the field. At times the A.I. would kick the ball in an incredibly low spot which was hard to reach and the game didn’t give me enough time to react so they got an easy point or two which felt a bit cheap. All in all, not a terrible minigame but nothing too memorable.
Climbing surprisingly works extremely well and I found myself reaching and standing on my tip toes trying to get that few extra inches to climb even higher on the cliffs. It’s not challenging by any meas but it is fun to each up and throw someone down as you climb even higher. You can even launch yourself up to get up a bit faster. Climbing was fun and felt like it took good advantage of the Kinect sensor and detects when you open and close your hands to release and grip pads on the rocks respectively.
Target shooting is incredibly simple you literally point your finger at targets and the targets blow up for points. There’s a turret you can activate to take points away from your competition but it’s not really useful besides draining a few points from them. They have a turret they can use on you as well and you must lean left or right to dodge the shots which is pretty simple. Target shooting isn’t very entertaining nor will it keep you interested for more than about 10 minutes.
Last but not least is Tennis. Tennis requires you to serve the ball or have it served to you and volley it back and forth until you or your opponent scores. Whoever has the most points obviously wins. The controls for tennis didn’t feel as intuitive as the others as backhand motions and hitting shots that were low felt incredibly awkward and imprecise. Tennis was definitely the low point of the game for me.
Kinect Sports Rivals does a decent job of using the Kinect sensor for most of the minigames but none of the minigames are particularly memorable. The story mode is bland and the characters come off as either corny or annoying and the story seems tacked on as a reason for you to want to complete more of the events but there’s not much reason to. The unlockables while nice, aren’t worth putting in the time or effort to earn since the effects each piece of equipment has is quite minimal.
Final Verdict: The game feels as though it’s a glorified tech demo instead of a full priced game. It has good ideas in place but the game doesn’t quite show that the Kinect is the end all be all of motion devices. The game feels a bit half baked from the story mode, the small offering of minigames, and the sometimes unresponsive motion controls. This game is fun for about 2 hours or so, after that you’ll grow tired of those minigames and wish they had more to offer. Perhaps they’ll bring in more minigames with DLC or perhaps if they make a sequel it will feature more games. It feels as if that since the game has such a limited amount of content it would come bundled with the console or be a bit cheaper but at full price it feels like a undercooked, and at times unresponsive, tech demo that satisfies for a bit then gets stale after the first couple of hours.
Overall Score: 6.0/10
RGN Rating: Below Bronze Game
Available on: Xbox One
Review Copy Info: A digital copy of this game was provided to RealGamerNewz by the publisher for the purpose of this review.