Kinect Sports Rivals does a lot of things really well — but the hardware, or quite possibly the software driving it, wasn’t up to the hype and fun of a motion controlled gaming experience.
Lucky enough for me, I live in a loft with a wide open space complete with cement floors and windows that let in plenty of natural light. I considered my living space somewhat optimal for Kinect gaming, but I soon found out Sport Rivals isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. From the sensor complaining about lighting conditions to the random glitches, the game still has a few bugs. Even after re-calibrating Kinect multiple times and having rearranged most of the furniture to get the best results, I still encountered the same problems over and over. I’d say the accuracy of picking up my motions were somewhere between 80 to 90 percent, while its a vast improvement over the first Kinect, the number of errors were way too high for the Kinect to position itself as a reliable gaming device.
When it worked, it worked and timing your movements and speeding past your opponent felt exciting. But all too often I found myself looking for something to throw its way. It’s frustrating as a group of friends and I attempt bowl, only to have our on-screen counterpart twerk it and swing it’s arm around like a drunken bird. Other sports performed well, so it’s surprising to see how random and unreliable it is. Even in what I consider to be a large living space Kinect continues to struggle to operate smoothly.
If Microsoft can’t get its hardware functional enough to power the sort of sports mini-games that Nintendo made popular when the Wii launched, I’m afraid developers who want to create a more ambitious gaming experience won’t bother. It’s not that the game isn’t fun; watching my friends goof around offers entertainment in and of itself, but the number of times I lost an event due to the hardware’s inability to sense my movements was frustrating. I fought the camera more than I fought the boyfriend. Who I might add, magically experienced no issues with the wave runner.
This is the sort of thing that should be great when my nieces and nephews visit, but trying to get my friends to stand in the optimal range while explaining the sort of deliberate movements Kinect needs for the game to function feels like bathing the dog. I can’t even imagine the frustration with kids who just want to play and move around.
The new Kinect works better than the original version, but it’s still not to the level of casual fun they use to market it. Kinect Sports Rivals had the responsibility to sell the capabilities of the hardware, and sadly Microsoft seems to have dropped the ball.
Character customization on the other hand was extremely impressive. Kinect Sports Rivals gives players the option of scanning their face into the game to create a custom avatar. To be honest it rendered an animated version of myself I was pretty proud of. Just take a look at the video, Kinect nailed my dashing good looks and even got my smirks rights. If you aren’t happy with the look Kinect gives, you always have the option to be re-rendered or make slight adjustments to your hair and other features afterwards. The downside is having a component of the game that generates more excitement and laughs than the actual game-play itself.
Kinect Sports Rivals, a game poised to show off everything the Xbox One sensor can do fails to meet its expectations even a month after it’s release. A first-party game, that was set to offer a combination of sports that should communicate the flexibility of the hardware and a chance for Microsoft to show that it’s learned from its first-gen mistakes. In the end it’s a $60 Dollar disappointment, nothing more than an entertaining distraction, but not intended for serious gaming.