The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Kinect Adventures is exactly the kind of all-in, jump around experience that Microsoft must have envisioned for its Kinect peripheral. The game invites players to push the furniture out of the way, take off their serious gamer hats, and simply have a good time. As a pack-in title, it does a brilliant job of demonstrating what the tech can do.
As with other Kinect titles, you’ll need to clear out a little space before you start this one up. More specifically, the game scans your playing area before starting, determining if you have an optimal space or one that’s merely good. It’s an important distinction, since the latter restricts you to the single-player mode. Since so much of Kinect Adventure’s success rides on the frantic multiplayer, it’s worth taking whatever steps are necessary to make enough room.
Once you’re in the game, you can play one of five main minigames in a standalone free-play mode or in a series of events called adventures (aha!). Five might not sound like a particularly large number – and it’s not – but there are enough subtle variations of each game type to keep things from growing stale immediately.
Rallyball was one of the earliest implementations of Kinect shown to the public, and for good reason. It’s conceptually simple and easy to understand. You stand at the end of a boxed-in hallway and have to destroy boxes and targets by serving a rubber playground ball toward the objects. The ball bounces around the enclosure and returns, and you have to swat the ball back using your hands, head, and legs to keep it in play. River Rush and Reflex Ridge are similar, putting you on platforms and having you either work to grab objects (in River Rush’s case) or avoid getting pummeled by them (in Reflex Ridge) by jumping and ducking. In Space Pop, you have to float around in zero gravity to pop bubbles. Finally, 20,000 Leaks throws you in a glass undersea box in which you must move to fill in leaks and cracks with your body.
It’s remarkable how well everything seems to work, and after a while you take the controller-free experience for granted. At first, playing River Rush co-op was an exercise in near collisions and unintentional pratfalls. After a few rounds, we were able to navigate through the rapids with ease, leaning and jumping in tandem. As with a lot of Kinect games, after each round you’re treated with still images of yourself jumping, squatting, and generally looking like a goofball. The gimmick works well in the roller-coaster world, and it’s just as effective here.
By now, most of us have played games that use glorified webcams, but they lack the precision and fidelity that Kinect offers. Being able to move around precisely in 3D space in Space Pop or 20,000 Leaks is incredible, and it speaks to the hardware’s potential. Avatar implementation isn’t flawless, on the other hand, as the characters have a tendency to freak out when you move your arms behind your head.
Kinect Adventures is a perfect game for in and out party-type play, but as the adventures become longer they can get tedious and exhausting – particularly Reflex Ridge’s sadistic “squat, jump, sidestep, repeat” gameplay. That said, Kinect Adventures is sure to be a family hit as people gather for the holidays.
Email the author Jeff Cork, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
My ankles ache from jumping. My sides hurt from laughing. And although my Xbox 360 continues to warn me that I should take a break, I can’t stop playing this game. Through a handful of excellently crafted minigames, Kinect Adventures shows how Microsoft’s controller-free approach to gaming can be fun for everyone. The thrills derived don’t just fall solely on the “look, I’m the controller!” gimmick. These minigames are legitimately good, and push players’ skills to the test. Using your hands to plug water leaks may not seem like entertainment, but Kinect Adventures turns this mundane action into an uproariously frantic exercise requiring speed, balance, and the ability to successfully navigate 3D space. This isn’t just a shallow pack-in game. Adventure mode is a long and enjoyable haul, free play offers its own set of medals and achievements, and the single player and cooperative experiences offer two different ways to play (single player being far more difficult and a greater workout). The only downfall to Kinect Adventures is its limited number of minigames.