Sonic Free Riders, from the Sonic team and O-Two, is like Mario Kart but not suitable for chubsters as this is a Kinect title - so involves some fairly robust controlling motions. But does the Kinect experience take-away from the gameplay? And can it be as addictive and successful as the Mario Kart series has been? We get hands on to find out.


Sonic Free Riders

What platform is it on?

Xbox 360

When's it due out?

10 November 2010

What other game is it like?

Super Mario Kart, SSX

Does it use any new tech?

Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360

The pitch

Sonic is speeding onto Kinect in an action-packed experience unlike any other! Become your favourite character as you jump on your board and get ready to compete in exhilarating, adrenaline-fuelled races against tough competition. For the first time, use full-motion body control to twist and turn your way through a range of visually stunning courses.

The storyline

There isn't really one but all your favourite Sonic characters are on board

Our first impressions

Sonic Free Riders is a fast paced, skateboard based racing sim that takes its inspiration from Mario Kart with a bit of SSX thrown in for good measure. But you won't be using your control pad for this game. Oh no, this is a Kinect title so it requires a bit of effort. 

You can select to play as one of many characters from the various adventures of  the world's most famous (and only?) blue-hedgehog. Like Mario Kart, the shapes and sizes of your character determine what your skill levels will be. 

You speed up your character by kicking against the floor, which seemed pretty natural considering there is no actual skateboard underneath you, and then you have to do your darnedest to stay upright as you fly down steep hills and over jumps. Jumping on jumps is key, you get boosts for tricks performed in mid-air. 

As well as the balance aspect you also use your arms to collect rings and there are also other arm-based movements, like the occasional swim, thrown in. You can also lock targets on your fellow racers and unleash collected weapons on them using your arms too.

It's a fairly full-on experience with hardly any let up in terms of physical exertion. If you're not kicking the floor like a mad-man, your crouching to get maximum speed or waving your arms around like a Manc at an early 90s rave. At times it can seem a bit much.

We tried out a three lap race, competing against 11 computer controlled opponents. Each lap took around a minute and a half and by the end, we're not ashamed to say, we was cream-crackered. This Kinect malarkey is hard work.

Sonic Free Riders isn't exactly what core gamers will call a serious title, but it's hardly a Wii-style title either. On the one stage we were able to try out, there were a number of different moves that were required and if the other stages can vary these actions up a bit (and maybe calm them down a bit as well) then Sega could be onto a winner with its launch Kinect title.

Please note

Gamescom is a fantastic chance to see the latest games due out over the coming year, letting us get a glimpse into what are going to be the big titles and the ones to avoid like the plague.

The big problem however, is that for most of the titles that glimpse is, well, just that. At the show you'll get to play a level here or a multiplayer map there.

So with that in mind we present you with our Quick Play.

What we've done is broken down the key facts you need to know and then given you our first impressions based on around 15 minutes of gaming. For us that 15 minutes isn't enough to do a First Look review. How can you rate a game that offers over 30 hours of gaming on just 15 minutes of play? However, it should hopefully give you an idea, a feeling, a notion, of what to expect come launch day.