Kinect Sports isn’t the first game to bite Wii Sports’ style, but it's one of the few to best it in execution. All of the sports here control naturally and intuitively with very few duds in the mix. The collection features a variety of straight sports replications and a few fun minigame twists as well.
Soccer is the most complicated event and probably the weakest. Your on-field player doesn’t run at all. They just stand still and try to pass to the next teammate without letting the ball get blocked. Shots on goal (and blocking as the goalie) are the best part since the ball seems to go where you want it.
Bowling is even easier to grasp here than in Wii Sports since you don’t have to worry about releasing the ball. You simply reach out, grab a ball, and toss it. You can even strafe side to side to line up your shot and put spin on the ball with a twist of your arm. Up to four players can take turns bowling and it’s really nice not having to pass around a remote. My favorite trick is to throw the ball like a shot-put and take a huge divot out of the nice clean lane.
Track and field blends five different events into one long tournament. Sprinting and hurdles both have you run in place with the latter throwing in jumps. While the javelin toss includes running before the throw, the discus event doesn’t allow you to spin around before you throw. This is probably for the best since dizzy players would be plowing into their coffee tables. Long jump works as one would expect, so get your Van Halen split jump ready. Playing through this section made me long for online leaderboards similar to those in Pinball FX 2 where you’re constantly taunted by your friends’ scores.
Boxing tracks your arm movements pretty well and lends itself to some strategy. If someone just flails wildly, it’s not tough to block and counter. You also get bonus power added to your next punch every time you block a hit. Opponents get blown back a little after a big hit, so you can’t just combo endlessly until they fall down.
Volleyball was the biggest surprise for me. Bumping, setting, and spiking works very well, and the automatic movement always seems to put you in the right place. It’s especially fun to co-op with another player and set up super spikes against the computer-controlled team.
I thought table tennis would be a little strange without a real paddle to hold, but it works just fine. In single-player you can even strafe from side to side to get the best angle on the ball. Versus mode gets a little crowded, but I managed not to smack anyone in the head so far.
Additional minigames that take a single aspect of a sport to an extreme round out the collection. I had a blast throwing an endless series of bowling balls at regenerating pins or blocking a barrage of soccer balls. If you’ve got a big group of people to play with, you can check out a random assortment of these in quick succession within Party Mode. This is really the best way to play local multiplayer since you’re doing a lot more playing without having to navigate a bunch of menus.
There isn’t much of a career for single-player fans outside of a basic leveling system. You’ll get experience every time you play under your profile and earn a new badge and avatar awards every ten levels. That’s about all there is to it.
In the end, if you’re looking for a way to show off your new Kinect, this provides a great complement to the pack-in title, Kinect Adventures.
Kinect Sports isn’t the first game to bite Wii Sports’ style, but it's one of the few to best it in execution.