Microsoft have taken innovation to the next level with the Microsoft Kinect. With the next generation of motion controller, that incorporates microphones, a video camera and NO controller to hold, Microsoft are hoping to capture a large proportion of the Video Game market this year and catapult the XBOX 360 into the stratosphere, making it the most successful home video games console.
Will it work? Well while the Kinect is an awesome product, if you don’t have decent games to play with it, then it is going to end up a failure. While hard-core gamers will continue to use the regular controller until the Kinect is perfected over time, the initial battle for Microsoft will be with the casual gamer – if they can wrestle those away from Nintendo and the ubiquitous Wii, then they have a chance of being very successful.
One of the most successful and fun games to play on the Wii was Wii Sports – it provided the casual gamer with a lot of fun games that could be played by the whole family. It was therefore inevitable that Microsoft would introduce their own sports compilation.
What is Kinect Sport?
Kinect Sport is a ‘star’ game for Microsoft that not only aims to highlight the ability of the Kinect, but also aims to gain a foothold into the very lucrative family market that Nintendo has cornered. Kinect Sports provides beach volleyball, bowling, table tennis, track and field, and boxing. The idea of the game is simple – to provide multiple fun sports games that can be quickly and intuitively played, and enjoyed by the whole family.
Kinect Sports aims to use the full body detection of the Kinect to provide a fully interactive game that far outweighs anything you’ve experienced on the Wii.
So what is Kinect Sports actually like?
The first impression you get of this game is one of awe – it really has taken what Kinect has to offer and made it work really well – you may have played Wii Sports, or even Wii Tiger Woods, but this is truly an immersive game that requires a lot of physical movement to fully enjoy – not only is this great exercise, it’s also amazingly interactive and fun to play, and you’ll simply be amazed at the complexity of movement the Kinect can track.
I have to admit that it does take some time to get used to, especially with games like track and field that require you to ‘run’ on the spot – it feels a little awkward at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be burning rubber in the 100m event (although I simply loved watching my Javelin sale away into the distance – OK so it only went 10m first time!).
What is really is impressive is some of the things you can do in the more interactive sports. Table tennis is a blast, and you’ll be amazed what you can do with the table tennis bat and how often you’ll find yourself lunging to reach the ball as it scoots to the left or right!
Soccer is one of the most fun games on Kinect Sports and really shows the nuances of the Kinect. It’s amazing how you’ll develop different techniques as you play the game; perhaps twisting a little, or moving your foot in a different way – but the Kinect tracks this so well, that you concentrate more on improving your skills rather than trying to trick the Kinect. The Volleyball was my favorite multi-player game and you’ll find yourself shouting at the other player as well as the computer while you spike the ball!
In most of the sports, it’s amazing how you get into the game and simply forget that you’re actually interacting with a computer – it’s addictive, fun and more than anything really tiring! There’s no doubt that I will be very fit within a few months!
What is even more pleasing is that as the game moves into the higher levels, it’s not simply a case of the action getting faster – I found that Wii Tennis didn’t become challenging, as once you had mastered the speed the game was easy – this isn’t the case on Kinect Sports – the artificial intelligence of the opponents is actually fairly impressive, and the strategic elements become far more important!
I was impressed with the game on solo mode; in multi-player mode you do need a lot more room, and I did find there were the occasional glitches where ‘legs’ were not recognized etc, but these were minor and infrequent . The biggest problem of the Kinect Sports game is the lag – while this doesn’t seem to matter in games such as Track and Field, it is noticeable at times and you find yourself adjusting and trying to anticipate the lag, especially in games like Table Tennis.
Overall, Kinect Sports is a great game not only for casual gamers, but also to be a great showcase for the Kinect. It is accessible to all, whether you are a hardened gamer who is hyper competitive, or a casual gamer who just wants some fun, and all levels of player will be able to fully participate and have fun.