Kinect Sports Rivals Preseason - First Impressions

Over the past week I have gotten the chance to play several Xbox One game demos in advance of the November 22nd launch date of the Xbox One itself at an event here in Toronto. Many of my experiences were fairly shallow on non-full versions of games, but with vertical slices of gameplay and repeated stress tests. Kinect Sports Rivals Preseason was one of such games I have gotten a chance to get my hands on, and here is what I thought about it.

Kinect Sports Rivals Gameplay: More Precise Control, But…

The Kinect is bundled in with each Xbox One not just for ease of access with the home entertainment arena, but to play games with. Kinect Sports Rivals was supposed to be one of those Day 1 launch titles that would further illustrate why the device was necessary, but instead we are left with a preseason taste in wake riding. It is the one of six available sports to play when the full game launches in Spring of 2014.

The command layout is simple: raise your hand to start, place your arms with clinched fists to accelerate forward and move your arms forward on the right to turn left and your left arm forward to turn to the right. It doesn’t take rock science (or Geology, as I like to refer to it) to play the game.

What it does take, however, is patience. I have limited experience with Kinect 1.0 that was introduced during the Xbox 360’s life cycle, but almost each game I played using the device was hot garbage. With Kinect Sports Rivals, racing along the waves felt more precise using the Kinect 2.0 device. The subtlety of adjusting the arms to turn was noticeable, as slight maneuvers were achievable.

That is to say, they were achievable over repeated plays. Starting out the first time, the layout of the map meant that you would be crashing into objects near the finish line to end up in 7th place instead of 2nd. Lack of reversing means any time you are slowed into a corner, you explode and are reset along the course. Patience is a virtue, but for a game aimed at a casual and younger audience it is understandable if kids playing this game could become frustrated on their first encounter.

Kinect Sports Rivals Visuals: Stylized, Well-Functioning Environments

Kinect Sports Rivals Preseason will launch at 1080p, but at 30 FPS. While it would have been better, obviously, if the game were at 60 FPS, but the frame rate is virtually locked-in at 30. Even among explosions, crashing waves, screen splashes and high-volume moments in races, I could not see any noticeable slowdowns in gameplay.

Additionally, the cartoonish nature of Kinect Sports Rivals was a welcome look for the Xbox One. So many of the console’s launch titles are grimdark, brown-and-bloom and generally mature in their visual nature, but this Kinect-utilized game showcased a variety of bright colors in a tropical setting. It is nice for Microsoft to bring wake racing for the Xbox One for free at launch, even if it is not a full game in of itself.

Kinect Sports Rivals Preseason Final Thoughts

Seeing as it is free, I can’t help but recommending picking up Kinect Sports Rivals Preseason at launch. It’s a commitment-free experience into a full Kinect game, and will help you get used to the controls ahead of upcoming Xbox One games with similar control schemes, such as Swery65’s D4.

That said, the controls are still Kinect-based, and will never truly mimic the intended control scheme of a D-pad or analog stick. You can get better and better with time at moving around on a virtual Sea-Doo, but I feel this particular sport would be better suited for control-based play.

I only got to play one of six sports, however. The others include soccer, tennis, bowling, rock climbing and target shooting, all of which ideologically make sense with using only your body as a controller in tandem with the Xbox One’s Kinect. More fun is on its way next year, but after about 30-60 minutes with the Kinect Sports Rival Preseason trial it became quite boring quickly. Kudos to you if you can last longer.

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Tags: Kinect Kinect Sports Rivals Microsoft Video Games Xbox One

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