Kinect Sports review

Kinect for Xbox 360 is all about getting you to jump up and down in your living room, and there is no better way of doing that than with Kinect Sports. The best way to look at Kinect Sports is to think of it as the Kinect’s Wii Sports. As the name suggests you get to play a range of sports games either on your own or with another player that don’t have any real relation to the sport that you are playing, but are fun none the less.

Soccer, bowling, beach volleyball, boxing, table tennis, and track and field are the disciplines, with the ability to play each discipline on its own or all together in a mode the game calls Party Play. The “zone” you are in, will govern the number of players and game options available. As a whole there is player on player, player vs computer, player vs online, players taking turns, 2 players versus computer, 2 players vs online, and as many players as you want in that party play mode.

Between all this gameplay is the chance to celebrate and ramp up the crowd's excitement by waving your arms in the air as if you are the next Usain Bolt.

Soccer

Yes we know it’s called football, but to be honest it’s more like Netball in its gameplay. Rather than playing FIFA, the masterstroke and Achilles Heel here is that you can’t run. Couch-loving doughnut-eating fans rejoice, lovers of the beautiful game start crying.

The game sees you passing the ball around the pitch from player to player without moving with three different directions to kick or pass it each time. There is no running into the right spot for that killer strike, or heading it into the back of the net, but you do get to choose which direction you pass, or if you are defending jump in the way of a passing ball from the opposing team.

To begin with, for anyone who has played football, it is fairly frustrating stuff as you want to be running around your living room as if you are playing FIFA 11, however once you get past the idea that this is netball not football then the gameplay all starts to fall into place and the enjoyment starts to wash over you.

It’s fun, will give you some laughs, and overall one of the better “zones” within the game. Just don’t expect PES or FIFA like abilities.

Bowling

Yep, it’s Wii Bowling without the fear of hurling the remote towards the screen. If you’ve played Wii Bowling, and chances are you probably have, then you’ll be right at home. The difference here is you can add spin and swing considerably easier, but that can also work against you if you aren’t careful.

Simple and fun, this is the most approachable “zone” and one, that come Christmas day Granny won’t be afraid to try. Something that probably won’t be the case with beach volleyball.

Beach Volleyball

As you might of guessed, this one involves you throwing your hands in the air and jumping a lot, which if you’ve got a low ceiling, neighbours down below, or a hanging chandelier, is an action you should be wary of.

We especially like the fact that this “zone” lets you play two player co-op against the computer or other players online.

It’s good fun and easy to get carried away, especially with the jumping bit. AI isn’t great, but not awful either. Still, at least you don’t have to get all serious like Maverick and Goose in Top Gun, and before you ask, we doubt Kelly McGillis will be waiting in the shower for you when you are done. Sorry.

Boxing

Just like Wii Boxing gives you boxing for the Nintendo Wii, this does the same for Kinect, and you guessed it, without the need to hold anything.

There are 12 moves to master from power punches to blocking moves and all work well as long as you are purposeful in your movement rather than flailing around like a madman. However Rare, the game's developer, has done well to keep this "zone" massively approachable and massively responsive. The Fighters Uncaged developers should give them a call. 

And before the less fit amongst you, reading this, panic that you’ve got to do 12 rounds of pounding the air in your living room, don’t, it’s best of three. Phew.

Table Tennis

Table tennis is one of those games that can be played on many different levels from messing around at the campsite to “hardcore” professional level. Kinect Sports takes the “fun” approach, and that means that while new comers will be able to pick up and play with ease, anyone else is likely to get frustrated very quickly at the sheer lack of speed and response available to you.

It’s not that the system isn’t quick enough to see your movements, it’s just that the game doesn’t, or certainly didn’t, run that fast for us.

Beyond that you can do your usual table tennis moves, smashes and serves, although we struggled to fathom how you could apply spin properly, even though it is available according to the manual. Still, it’s a much better experience than Table Tennis on the Wii. Maybe we are spoilt by Rockstar’s offering (admittedly without the sensory input).

Like beach volleyball you can play this online co-op against two other players, for four times the fun.

Track and field

The best “zone” by far, track and field is itself made up of five further disciplines: sprint, javelin, long jump, discus and hurdles.

Opt for the full experience and you get to play all five. Scores from each round are tallied up which will hopefully result in you being crowned king of the crop.

Sprint gets you running on the spot, javelin pretending to throw one, long jump running then jumping (up not forward) and hurdles a combination of the same, but on a track rather than on the sand.

If you’ve found a discipline you like you can select just that, and if you’ve got your mates around this is the one you’ll be selecting first - seeing them attempt the discus is enough fun in itself.

Verdict

While sports purists will say that some of the “zones” aren’t up to scratch, on the whole this is good fun with plenty of gaming to induce laughter when your friends come around. This is Wii Sports for the Kinect, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about how much you will play this game, and how the game plays out.

The games are incredibly easy to pick up and play, and because of that lack of controller and buttons, easy to learn. Kinect Sports is very inclusive of everyone in the family.

Whether it's the Kinect version of Wii Sports or not, we like it. Only expect to get it out when your friends come around though.