Kinect Sports Rivals presents a new case for motion control, but will it stick?

By Dave Cook
7 April 2014 14:00 GMT

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Kinect Sports Rivals serves as a showcase of just how far Microsoft’s new motion sensor has come since its first iteration, but will it convince you to down-joypad? Dave Cook plays the final code and shares his thoughts.


”What Microsoft really needs in Rare’s game is a show-stopping proposition that convinces consumers that the Xbox One’s higher RRP – bolstered largely due to Kinect’s inclusion in the box – has been worth it.”

I was never that fond of the first Kinect peripheral. After a few weeks of cooing over the novelty of Dance Central and laughing as my colleagues dropped themselves into movies using Yoostar 2, the concept grew stale. The device was swiftly relegated to the cupboard, never to see the light of day again. It just wasn’t for me.

Last February, Microsoft revealed it had shifted some 24 million ‘Gen-1’ Kinect sensors since the product launched in North America on November 4, 2010. That’s not a small number, but I’m keen to see how many of those devices were actually used regularly, or merely acquired as part of an Xbox 360 bundle. Either way, all Xbox One consoles are now bundled with a Kinect device, so it’s clear that Microsoft isn’t taking the concept lightly this time round.

Enter Kinect Sports Rivals, the first in-house game that functions using the device alone. What Microsoft really needs in Rare’s game is a show-stopping proposition that convinces consumers that the Xbox One’s higher RRP – bolstered largely due to Kinect’s inclusion in the box – has been worth it. After playing the game for some five hours, I’m still not entirely convinced it’s something I’ll return to often.

The first thing you see after booting up the game is Rare’s character creation system, which scans in your face at multiple angles as well as your body shape to produce an avatar. It’s a simple process that involves tilting your head to match HUD cues and standing still while Kinect’s in-built camera works its magic. I was pleasantly surprised with my result, beard and all:

kinect sports

It was also really kind about my physique. GOTY 10/10

So that was all very impressive, and will definitely serve as something of a show-piece the next time I have friends over. However, I had a problem with my living room which, while quite long, has my TV set-up sitting at an angle in one corner. Kinect kept on asking me to step back a bit further to be scanned in, but I could only retreat about a metre before I backed into my couch.

After some table movement and TV-swivelling I was able to give myself more space to play, but you can already see how this might be a problem for some. I was impressed with the camera’s perception however, as Kinect never once grumbled about low lighting or any of that bollocks from the Xbox 360 days. This is my one and only technical complaint throughout this entire appraisal, so that’s certainly a step up from the first Kinect Sports. Bravo Microsoft.

The peripheral itself, on the other hand, proved to be a bit cumbersome. I don’t know about you, but I felt that having to perch Microsoft’s weighted sensor ‘brick’ on my thin, flatscreen television without it toppling off was quite the precarious balancing act. I was honestly worried that all my flailing and jumping around like a tit was going to see Kinect fall off at any moment, before it went smashing into my screen.

I usually have Kinect sitting below my display and that’s fine for voice commands and Twitch broadcasts, but at such a close distance it had trouble seeing my whole body when playing some events. I had to stabilise it often, and in the case of the soccer events, move it entirely so the camera could pick up my feet. Issues like these make Kinect feel like more trouble than it should be, but I appreciate that your front room will be different.

Now that the Kinect-babble is out of the way, let’s move on to the gameplay itself.

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