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Kinect Sports Rivals

Breaking A Sweat In Bowling, Tennis, Soccer, Climbing, And Wave Racing

Recently, I had the chance to go hands (and feet) on with a new Kinect Sports Rivals preview. During our time with the game, we experienced the bowling, soccer, tennis, climbing, and wave racing minigames.

The entire experience starts with a body and facial scanning process. This took only a couple of minutes and required some simple selections activated with a Kinect hand motion control. The end result was impressive, yielding an avatar that looked enough like me to be easily recognizable. (If this makes its way into other games with create-a-character, the value of Kinect skyrockets.)

Once that was complete, we dove right into bowling. Those planning on picking the game up on April 8 will need to go through a tutorial and a team selection process. These will last approximately an hour each.

Each of the Kinect Sports Rivals minigames features different equipment and power ups. The bowling game is similar to what we’ve seen in other motion controlled 10-pin experiences. I was impressed by the way Kinect detected hand spin and throw velocity. The developer opposite me even demonstrated throwing overhand, which the camera picked up accurately.

Activating one of the three powers (speed ball; hand switcher, which makes your opponent bowl with the opposite hand for a frame; and meteor, which cracks the alley) can be handled with voice or by stomping a foot once the meter is charged. These don’t seem to have a dramatic effect on the game, but can be used to rack up more pins or confound your opponent. Each of the games has a similar mechanic, with powers than can either boost you ahead or impede your foe.

The wave racing and climbing minigames both read movement well, but it takes time to get used to steering and reaching for a handhold without tactile response. Unlike past iterations of motion controlled titles, you can’t game the system. The Kinect 2.0 is simply too accurate, detecting even small movements like opening and closing your hands.

Laying a mine in front of an opponent or yanking him from the climbing wall are gleeful experiences. There are brief reminders of why local competitive play is so much fun, though they don’t persist quite long enough.

The tennis game is a bit disappointing, because of input lag. I had a hard time figuring out when to time my swings, and compensating for that delay made this the least enjoyable of the experiences. 

For those that do get hooked, there is a great seal of depth in Kinect Sports Rivals’ competitive modes. Local play, online competitions, and a concept similar to Forza Motorsport 5’s drivatars means that there will always be something to do or someone to compete against, even if no one is home and your friends are offline.

Playing earns coins to unlock new outfits, and as you compete and succeed, you’ll earn fans to power your online persona. Kinect Sports Rivals is shaping up to be the tech demo the new version of Microsoft’s camera needs, but it comes months late. If you’ve got a family (or have simply enjoyed the motion controlled sports offerings for the original Kinect), this is worth keeping an eye on. It’s unlikely to be a must-buy for the core market, though.

We’ll know for sure when Kinect Sports Rivals arrives on April 8. 

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  • Woah! Jet skis!
  • They didnt bring back Golf?? That was the only thing that was worth playing in the last Kinect Sports game. I would never pick up a Tiger Woods PGA or play the game irl but the Kinect version was fun.

  • The face/body into avatar creator this game does is quite amazing, should be the core avatar creator for the console IMO.

  • The avatars and setting look pretty nice, I'm hoping this can be a good game for the kinect, by your hands on preview, it's shaping up to be.

  • Cool bowling. I hope it as good a Wii sports.

  • looks like fun, but it's still not enough to make me really want an XB1. There has been no game released or announced for the system that has made me think that I need to have it in addition to my PC, which also supports motion control via the LEAP!

  • The bowling was probably my favorite on kinect sports.

  • I am so jacked to get this, cant wait for april 8th. All I need is a dance central game comes out.

  • I've been looking forward to this game. The jet ski demo was fun. I was really sad this wasn't a launch title like originally planned but better late than never.

  • Wasn't interested until I read about the, "great seal of depth." Sounds like a pretty dope boss battle. Perhaps I can launch flaming romance novels at it from a bazooka to weaken its intellectual prowess. The finishing move could be a hand grenade disguised as a fish. PETA might have a few issues with that though.

  • I really don't see why Microsoft insists on pushing the Kinect again. In my experience, it just hasn't worked well at all, being glitchy at best and inoperable at worst. I wish they'd shift their focus to something else that would actually benefit the community, instead of constantly trying to convince people to buy a Kinect.