Kinect Sports is the default choice among consumers. Its use of the Xbox 360 avatars and the familiar, though often used, sports like bowling, boxing and table tennis bring comfort to players who have played Wii Sports, and its easy-to-grasp gestures make it perfect for players to get used to the nuances of the new controller. As good as it is, though, a portion of the audience may be interested in the Kinect but want to try out the technology with other renditions of other sports. For those players, Ubisoft tasked its Milan branch with MotionSports: Play For Real, a sports minigame compilation that is billed as a complementary game to Kinect Sports rather than a direct competitor.
MotionSports offers players a series of mini-games in the following categories: football, boxing, soccer, hang gliding, horseback riding, and skiing. You begin the game with one option in each sport, and as you progress through the game you unlock more challenges in each category. Most of the events are fairly basic. For example, in the football category you begin as a running back and duck, jump, and dodge to avoid obstacles. In the skiing, you lean side to side to simulate downhill skiing, while crouching to accelerate. All of the games are fairly straightforward and simple.
Boxing is the first sport and one of two that is also covered by Kinect Sports. Like most of the other motion-controlled boxing games, the boxing is simple. You can do straight jabs to the face or body with either hand and execute uppercuts and hooks just like you would in real life. On the defensive side, you can block punches, but you can’t duck or dodge to the side. It’s different from Kinect Sports boxing in that you never see your hands delivering any blows, and there isn’t a minigame associated with you getting up from a knockdown. A few other differences include a more powerful blow that can be initiated after doing three successful parry moves and a final combo moment where, after whittling down your opponent’s energy, you can unleash a flurry of punches before the opponent is knocked down.
Soccer: Soccer happened to be my biggest disappointment. Like I said in the Football section when I talked about kicking field goals, Kinect Sports really made soccer great. The accuracy of passing and shooting, along with making the gameplay a lot of fun even without running around was amazing to me. This just fell short and made me crave having my avatar back defending corner kicks in net as goalkeeper. It had the same set up as field goal kicking and as you can see in the video below (luckily without audio of me cursing) I am just swinging my leg vigorously trying to kick it at all.
Football, which is the sport that is often highlighted in advertisements for MotionSports, plays similarly to soccer in that you take part in key activities of the sport instead of playing the complete game. Quarterback has you trying to avoid tacklers while you throw the ball to your receiver. Kicker has you trying to make as many field goals as possible, and target throw has you playing the role of the quarterback again as you try to throw at certain targets in the field. The role of the running back is assumed for the last three activities, which have you doing lateral runs, vertical runs and making a touchdown run while avoiding tacklers. Unfortunately, the controls completely kill the fun. While jumps and stiff arms are read almost instantly, and ducks are more miss than hit, often resulting in you being penalized for the subsequent hit. Side-to-side movements also seem to suffer from a second of disconnect, so your movement from one side to another isn’t recorded by the system instantaneously. Considering how often you’ll be ducking or doing spins and side movements, the poor implementation means that the flagship sport for the package ends up being the least amount of fun.
Skiing is easily the worst sport in the game. For the sole reason that it doesn’t work. It is hard to say that, but it feels unplayable. To play you bring both arms up towards the side of your head and then whip down to build up speed. You then bend your knees slightly and put your weight on whatever direction you want to go. At least that is the idea, I found myself hitting the fences and unable to turn myself a lot of the time. Almost as if the game was non-responsive to my movements. I was in amazement at how I managed to end up 8 feet off the course turned towards the east when I couldn’t do it intentionally when I tried.
The final sport in the package is horseback riding, which is rarely in video games that aren’t intended for females. The event is split up into two different event types. Races are exactly what you would expect from any fairground, minus the betting aspect. The objective is to come in first, but the horse’s stamina is key to ensuring a win. Obstacle courses have you following a specific path while you get the horse to jump over obstacles of varying heights and distances. The controls are responsive, though the races are much more fun; even the most difficult obstacle courses don’t provide much of a challenge to players with a fair amount of skill.
Kinect Sports supports online multiplayer, but unfortunately, MotionSports doesn’t. There isn’t even an option for online leaderboards for any of the events, though you do have local leaderboards. Unless you plan to only have competitions with your friends, you’ll find that this lack of online competition limits how often you’ll play the game. Graphically, MotionSports isn’t amazing, but it pulls off a few interesting tricks. The environments look fine, but the cool feature is that your live video feed and still pictures are used to present you on a big screen after each game.
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