Giant Bomb Review

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Kinect Sports Review

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The quality of the games and implementation of the Kinect technology in Kinect Sports make this sports-themed minigame collection more than just another genre also-ran.

I think it's safe to say we can all blame Nintendo for thrusting the once barely-existent sports minigame collection into the limelight as the benchmark by which all motion-controlling technologies are judged. After Wii Sports, publishers went bananas all over this genre, and with the launch of the Move on the PlayStation 3, as well as Microsoft's Kinect, we have ourselves myriad miniature sporting games to sift through. I don't really know if making painstaking judgments about which game/system features the superior rendition of table tennis is really the way to be properly stacking these technologies against one another, but at the very least, the publisher-produced versions of these games do tend to make for solid showings of the technology they're built around, and can occasionally be pretty fun to boot.

 To punch dudes in boxing, you, well, punch dudes.
Kinect Sports is Microsoft's stab at the genre for its newly released motion-tracking camera. Developer Rare shows that it has a fairly firm grip on the Kinect tech, creating a solid variety of sporting minigames that each require unique and energetic movements from the player. This is one of those games that pretty much requires additional players to really be worth your while, but if you do have some companions to play with, Kinect Sports can be precisely the kind of riotous party experience you would want from this type of game.

Six basic games are included in this package: Boxing, beach volleyball, table tennis, soccer, bowling, and track and field. Actually, track and field is a competitive suite made up of five smaller games--javelin, discus, hurdles, long jump, and sprint--so I guess you could say there are technically eleven games. And, now that I think of it, the game also includes "minigames" versions of the, erm, minigames, with differing rule sets--how many bowling pins can you knock down in a set amount of time, how many times can you return the ball in table tennis, etc.--so, OK, let's just say there's a bunch of different games to play around with.

Kinect Sports has the benefit of being one of the more solid demonstrations of the Kinect technology, in terms of functionality and fun. All of these games work as intended, with only a touch of noticeable input lag, and do so in ways that are almost immediately intuitive to the player. Want to throw a discus? Wind your arm back, and fling it forward like...well, you were throwing a discus. Hitting a ball in table tennis, throwing a bowling ball down the lane, punching a dude in boxing, all this stuff works in ways that, were the helpful tutorials not there, would mostly make sense from a practical standpoint. Even the slightly more abstracted stuff, like sprinting or long jumping, makes sense as you simply run in place and jump in the air when required. The only game that is maybe a little too abstracted for its own good is soccer, which is less a game of soccer and more a game of you standing in place, and kicking the ball toward another player, eventually getting the goal. Again, it works fine, but it's not a great deal of fun.

 Try bowling against the hardest AI difficulty, and you are entering a world of pain.
Still, that's one blemish among a group of games that are largely a hoot--at least in a multiplayer scenario. The single-player experience in Kinect Sports is a touch lacking, sadly. It's not that the games don't provide an ample challenge to the solo player. In fact, if you crank the difficulty up, you can get into some really tough games against the computer--perhaps a little too tough once you get up to Champion difficulty. It's fun to feel challenged, but when you're getting regularly smoked by a computer opponent that knows how to nail practically every shot in volleyball and can bowl like eight or nine strikes in a given game, your enjoyment tends to flatline.

But in multiplayer, that's far less of a concern, and really, that's how these games are meant to be played. As with other Kinect titles, the game can only handle two players on screen at once, but there's a nice array of competitive and cooperative options for various games across the board. Want to play some cooperative doubles table tennis? Or just punch some people in the face online? You can, and should.

I'll go so far as to say that the genre of sports-themed minigame collections probably isn't capable of really being revolutionized, but Kinect Sports gets dangerously close, simply by virtue of doing the one thing other motion-controlling technologies haven't been able to yet: Tracking your feet. This is far more of a full-body workout than something like a Wii Sports, and best of all, it's a fairly fun workout at that. It would be entirely understandable if seasoned players who have already run the gamut of previously released mini-sports titles like this one might balk at the notion if picking up yet another one. But if you've invested in a Kinect and you're looking for a nifty, well-put-together party game to show off your fancy new gadget, this is about as good as anything you're going to find in the system's launch lineup. Alex Navarro on Google+
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Posted by Axus

bettter than i expected

Edited by Starklight

Nice review! Still have no real interest in the Kinect, though...

Posted by Sogeman

So it's as good as CoD? ^^

Posted by MysteriousBob

Alex really needs his own review art.

Posted by Mrskidders

I will eat my hat and admit that I was wrong thinking the reviews would be 3 stars or less.  Still doesn't make me even vaguely want a Kinect though.

Posted by Video_Game_King

Am I the only one not pissed about sports games for Kinect and Move? Nintendo did it as a tech demo/tutorial, to show how exactly motion controls should work. It only makes sense for the competition to do the same, especially when their control schemes aren't entirely the same.

Edited by Smokay

Is Alex part of the review crew for giant bomb at this point?Or only beacause they are understaffed at the moment with Jeff leaving on secret missions and Brad being in Seoul?
 
The main page shows this review has 0 comments Top men are needed

Posted by soupbones

love it

Posted by Gregomasta
@Sogeman said:
" So it's as good as CoD? ^^ "
That's exactly what it means.
Posted by stalefishies

Insert usual comment about Alex needing review pictures here.
 
Also, no mention of the music? I know it's a small thing and it's Kinect itself that's really the focus here, but those short clips of Chariots of Fire, Song 2 etc. genuinely seemed like some of the best bits of the game when watching on the live stream.

Posted by Bloodgraiv3
@Sogeman said:
"So it's as good as CoD? ^^"

That must mean their equal games! 
Posted by Creamypies

Bought the Kinect today and this is the one game that I got that I haven't booted up yet. Dance Central is awesome and Kinect Adventures was okay for a short spell. Looking forward to playing this now!

Posted by ZombiePie

SO this and not Kinect Adventures is a better introduction to Kinect? Interesting.

Moderator
Edited by cool8man

Soccer and volleyball are my favorite games in this. Boxing is the least favorite. The co-op is a ton of fun.   
 
Soccer is not too abstracted. The only element of soccer that is missing is the running. Which honestly is the worst part of playing real soccer. You can even hit shots with your head (try doing that with a Wii) and catch balls with both hands as a goalie.

 The tracking in Kinect Sports is much better than Kinect Adventures. It is very 1:1 with almost no perceptible lag.    

Oh and the other thing Kinect Sports has that Wii Sports doesn't besides the ability to track your feet is the ability to play online against other people. Rare did a fantastic job.

Posted by mrsmiley

Really good to hear! I've been planning on getting a Kinect, but I wanted to make sure there are at least a couple titles that make it worth my while. Good to know this works well.

Posted by msavo
@MysteriousBob said:
" Alex really needs his own review art. "
Online
Posted by SuperSambo
@cool8man said:
" Soccer is my favorite game in this. Boxing is the least favorite. The co-op is a ton of fun.    The tracking in Kinect Sports is much better than Kinect Adventures. It is very 1:1 with almost no perceptible lag.     Oh and the other thing Kinect Sports has that Wii Sports doesn't besides the ability to track your feet is the ability to play online against other people. Rare did a fantastic job. "
What would you say is wrong with the boxing?
Posted by Hammerjelly

As someone who regularly kickboxes (muay thai), I am most interested in the boxing. Does it in fact follow your inputs precisely? 
 
The thing I hated about Wii Sports is that you didn't have to know any kind of technique to be any better at the game. 

Posted by Branthog

You guys should review Kinect games the same way that I would: 
 
Subtract 5 stars, because I'm a huge and lazy fat-ass. 
Start adding points from there, according to merit.

Posted by StrikeALight

  I was expecting this to get 3 stars.  Alex Navarro, something has stirred deep inside you - perhaps you are slowly succumbing to the charms of MS motion gaming!
 
 
(maybe).

Posted by prestonhedges

"But if you've invested in a Kinect and you're looking for a nifty, well-put-together party game to show off your fancy new gadget, this is about as good as anything you're going to find in the system's launch lineup."
 
Clearly this deserves four stars.

The point-based review system is retarded.

Posted by geflato

This game is actually pretty good. Sure its not really anything mindblowing but it shows off the Kinect well and has online to give it legs.  Fair review id say

Posted by Bollard
@cool8man: Damn! Kinect Sports was the only Kinect game (other than Dance Central) I didn't get to try at Eurogamer Expo.
Posted by FreakAche

It's good to see that Rare is still able to work on something that's at least somewhat relevant. I can't really see myself ever getting a Kinect though.

Posted by TadThuggish

The quick look showed a game of three stars or less (potentially a two).  This seems like a real apologist review, trying to spin at least one first-party Kinect thing into something worthwhile.  I don't think Whiskey Media is corrupt as other sites are, but this feels forced and out of a perceived quota instead of honestly saying "It's like Wii Sports but jankier."

Posted by SaturdayNightSpecials
@TadThuggish:  
Did you listen to this week's podcast? If anyone is going to give Kinect a pity review, it's sure as hell not Alex.
Posted by ZeroCast
@Branthog said:
" You guys should review Kinect games the same way that I would:  Subtract 5 stars, because I'm a huge and lazy fat-ass. Start adding points from there, according to merit. "
+1
Posted by Jayross

I wasn't sure if I should get Black Ops, or Kinect Sports. Hmm... I'll flip a coin.

Posted by stinky
@Jayross said:
" I wasn't sure if I should get Black Ops, or Kinect Sports. Hmm... I'll flip a coin. "
4 stars each, so i doubt you'll notice a difference between the two.
Posted by big_jon

Rare does good work, even if it is an up hill struggle.
Posted by xyzygy

2  Four-star Kinect reviews from GB? Color me surprised.

Posted by SilverArrows

Alex, after listening to your ranting about Kinect, i wasn't sure i wanted to read your review on Kinect Sports. But I have to say this is very unbiased. I have to agree 100% with this review, i am totally enjoying Kinect Sports right now .... the biggest issue I've had with this game is, people living on the floor below mine, have complained about making too much noise (when playing the sprinting games) :)

Posted by MegaGoat

It lost a star ffor not including equestrian events

Posted by Alex
@SilverArrows: 
 
I hadn't touched this one when I recorded the podcast, just Kinect Adventures and Kinectimals, neither of which I like one bit. This one just works a hell of a lot better than either of those two games.
Staff
Posted by Chaoskiller2000

Nice Review, I look forward to checking this out someday!

Posted by SuperSambo

Games don't have 5 different level of qualities and not all media can be judged equally. You cant compare a comedy about 2 talking babies to a porn film full of leathered up homosexual men, but they both may be 4 stars in their respective fields.

Posted by monster9999

Nooooooo my bet,(Lost 10000)

Posted by FritzDude

Looking forward to Ryan's "RIDER MEET HORSE, HORSE MEET RIDER" review of that other game.

Posted by AlisterCat
@TadThuggish said:
" The quick look showed a game of three stars or less (potentially a two).  This seems like a real apologist review, trying to spin at least one first-party Kinect thing into something worthwhile.  I don't think Whiskey Media is corrupt as other sites are, but this feels forced and out of a perceived quota instead of honestly saying "It's like Wii Sports but jankier." "
It's not a review until someone disputes the reliability and or credibility.
Edited by ape_dosmil
@TadThuggish: How the fuck can you tell from watching the quick look that this is a 3 star or lower game? Firstly even to rate it in your own opinion you'd have to play it for yourself. Secondly, you're not even trying to tell us what the score should be in your opinion, you're trying to tell us what the score should be in Alex's opinion. And then you essentially go on to question his integrity as a journalist without any evidence. Nice. You're a tit.
Posted by dragonzord
@FritzDude said:
" Looking forward to Ryan's "RIDER MEET HORSE, HORSE MEET RIDER" review of that other game. "
I'd rather see space poncho man's
Posted by Romination

Alex needs a character design. He's done enough reviews by now. 
 
I hate the box for this game. Look at it. It's... it's so bad... What would have been better- just an avatar kicking, but it's LENTICULAR so that it shifts into a human kicking at other angles.

Edited by Marokai

Not that I'm upset about more reviews, but has something happened that renders the usual Jeff/Brad/Ryan trio unable to review games, or something? In the last month, Alex has reviewed six games himself. Is there some reason that the others aren't able to handle these, because frankly, I don't buy the "it's the busy season so they're calling in extra help!" excuse. It's always the busy season this time of year and I see very little that makes this year different than the last or the year before that. Just curious.

Posted by buft

great review, i've been wondering what my next kinect game should be and i think the bowling has tipped the scales in this titles favour

Posted by JCat

Wow, and this review was from Alex, who clearly is not a big Kinect fan, based on his annoying whining from the most recent Bombcast. In any case, thank you Alex, for giving the game what it deserves.

Posted by OmegaPirate

Really? this has looked terrible in every video i have seen of it thus far!?! 

Posted by Vitor
@Romination said:
" Alex needs a character design. He's done enough reviews by now.  
 
Agreed - although I do like just how much his current review avatar looks like that call of Duty Black Ops dude. 
Posted by KuribosShoe
@Marokai said:
" Not that I'm upset about more reviews, but has something happened that renders the usual Jeff/Brad/Ryan trio unable to review games, or something? In the last month, Alex has reviewed six games himself. Is there some reason that the others aren't able to handle these, because frankly, I don't buy the "it's the busy season so they're calling in extra help!" excuse. It's always the busy season this time of year and I see very little that makes this year different than the last or the year before that. Just curious. "
last year they didn't have any help.  now they do.
Posted by Napalm
@Marokai said:
" Not that I'm upset about more reviews, but has something happened that renders the usual Jeff/Brad/Ryan trio unable to review games, or something? In the last month, Alex has reviewed six games himself. Is there some reason that the others aren't able to handle these, because frankly, I don't buy the "it's the busy season so they're calling in extra help!" excuse. It's always the busy season this time of year and I see very little that makes this year different than the last or the year before that. Just curious. "
I was about to ask, "so.... is Alex a part of the Bomb now?"
Posted by KuribosShoe

Alex knows how to review games, there's a lot of games coming out and not a lot of movies.  It's that simple.

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