Scotsman Games review: Kinect Sports Rivals

AS an exhibition of the new Kinect’s precision motion control sensors on the Xbox One, Kinect Sports Rivals is largely persuasive. As a game, it struggles to provide entertainment beyond the initial burst of introducing new sports and novel means to participate in them.

The football mini-game lacks the nuanced controls of some of the earlier activities. Picture: Contributed
The football mini-game lacks the nuanced controls of some of the earlier activities. Picture: Contributed

Kinect Sports Rivals - Xbox One

Score: 7.0 / 10

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Given it has been developed by Rare, the British firm beloved by a generation of gamers for titles such as Goldeneye and Donkey Kong Country, it seems fitting that the presentation has a pleasantly 1990s-influenced art style.

After creating your own avatar as prompted by an overzealous David Tennant, the first event - wake racing - continues the retro theme, bringing to mind the thrills of Wave Race 64.

‘Fluent’ controls

With the player able to mimic the controls of a jetski by holding their arms out in front of them and making a fist with their righthand to pull the throttle, it is possible to complete a race while remaining seated, albeit veering to either side for sharp turns.

The well designed controls and immediately-improved latency compared to the original Kinect make for an enjoyable introduction to the game.

The next event, rock climbing, showcases equally fluent motion controls, with an emphasis on more nuanced movements. As you reach up and grasp one hold and then another, carefully shifting your weight and closing your hand to ensure a secure grip, it feels like Rare have done a fine job in advancing the kind of control system that captured the public imagination in the era of the Wii.

‘Unreasonable demands’

Sadly, the first two disciplines of Kinect Sports Rivals are far and away the best. The remainder boast considerably more ambitious mechanics which do not always gel and make unreasonable demands for space in order to control your doppelganger. Football, for example, requires a large room to swing at the imaginary ball and jump from side to side when asked to perform heroics as a goalkeeper.

Such sweeping motions lack the finesse displayed elsewhere and consequently you do not get the feeling that the action on-screen is always a faithful reflection of your movements.

Whether pinpoint accuracy matters during the kind of relaxed gathering for which Sports Rivals is designed is a question for the individual gamer, but it is disappointing nonetheless given the widely-mooted upgrades to the Kinect sensor.