Kinect Sports Rivals was announced at Microsoft’s E3 conference last year. It was originally planned for release alongside the Xbox One however was delayed for further polish. The game is finally coming out and it actually has a basic story. The story based events in the game have you competing for three of the island’s dominant teams. These include The Viper Network, Wolf Clan and Eagle Legion. I found the characters to be a bit bland and found the cutscenes unnecessary. I completely understand that they’re there to give the game a ‘story mode’, but it just doesn’t seem necessary to have unskippable cutscenes before events.
Kinect Sports Rivals is an amazing looking game. It’s easily the most colourful and vibrant game available on the Xbox One and it really shines in this area. Your champion looks incredible and cutscenes are just as good. It was evident from the start that this was a massive step up from the last Kinect Sports game.
Unfortunately navigating the menus is easily one of the most frustrating things about the game. Voice commands just don’t work well at all for some reason and gestures worked for the majority of the time but at least once or twice in every session, I’d actually press the wrong button. For me, this basically ruins gesture controls. It needs to be 100% useable and easier than using a controller, or shouldn’t be included at all. You can use a controller but it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the nature of the game.
The first thing that you’ll be doing in Kinect Sports Rivals is creating your champion. Kinect 2.0 uses 3D face shape scanning to scan your face in order to match create a champion that’s based on your appearance. The Kinect 2.0 also incorporates things like glasses detection and skin, hair and physique detection. I was actually shocked with just how cool this process was and just how much my champion looked like me in an overtop kind of way. It’s an absolutely great way to show off the power of the brand new Kinect.
Kinect Sports features six sports. 3 are brand new experiences and 3 have been enhanced through the use of Kinect 2.0 and the Xbox One’s power in general. As you progress through the six sports, you’ll be able to level-up. Doing so will gain you more coins and fans which you’ll be able to spend to buy new equipment and power ups. Each sport has three different power ups and as you progress through the game, you have the ability to increase the recharge speed and/or strength.
Wake Racing is the first sport that you’ll be able to play when you boot up the game and it’s probably one of the best. It’s extremely simple in it’s approach that’s what makes it so successful. The sport simply has you shifting your body weight left and right in order to steer your racer.
Climbing was also extremely enjoyable to play. It’s a great showcase of the new technology and really tracks your hands perfectly. The Kinect really works well with slower, precise movements in my opinion and climbing is the best display of this. Target Shooting is the last of the brand new sports and in my opinion was a little underwhelming. It just felt like it was the most tacked-on sport to me. It was great to play for a few rounds but then it just felt stale and more like a tech demo than a fully fledged sport.
Bowling returns from the original Kinect Sports but whilst it looks better, not much else has changed and it’s still not as enjoyable as Wii Sports. I feel like the addictiveness just isn’t there and whilst it’s great to see how the technology works, I didn’t feel like I had a ton of fun playing it. I found Tennis to be much the same. Tennis is my favourite sport and I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing tennis games over the years but unfortunately it tries to achieve more than it can handle. Not only is it incredibly incompetent at detecting movements, it’s just not fun to play at all. Soccer also makes a return and also fails to make a ton of impact. It’s pretty fun being able to dive and make a spectacular save but everything else feels a little underwhelming, just as it did previously.
The Kinect Sports Rivals hub is the place that you’ll spend most of your time when you’re not competing. This is where you’ll compare times with your rivals as well as engage in any rival challenges. This is the main focus of Kinect Sports Rivals. If you’re not into beating opponents times and scores then you’re not going to get a whole lot out of this game from a single player perspective.
I still found there to be pretty glaring issues with the game and the Kinect 2.0 in general. When playing the game, I was constantly faced with an error that would take over the whole screen, telling me that part of my body was not completely visible. This was incredible annoying because as far as I could tell, my whole body was visible in the dialogue window. I physically cleared my whole lounge room for a few days to review this game, so to see that I was still facing these issues was just downright annoying. Loading times also seemed to plague the game at times. I found the loading times to be almost unacceptable for a game where i’m standing up for extended periods of time. I’d expect that this would be improved with a patch.