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'Kinect Sports Rivals' glitchy but entertaining


April 15, 2014

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    To put to use the new Kinect that comes with the Xbox One, developer Rare has put together a sports video game called “Kinect Sports Rivals.” Published by Microsoft Studios and released April 8, “Rivals” is a collection of six sports-themed challenges, from rock climbing to bowling.
    First, the Kinect scans the player and creates a digital champion in what is supposed to be the player’s likeness. Although sometimes it’s a complete failure, it’s always fun to see what it creates. Then, the characters are placed within the world of “Kinect Sports Rivals,” where gamers battle it out across the game’s island setting, competing in sports including bowling, jet ski racing, rock climbing, soccer, target shooting and tennis. Players can choose to complete training missions that teach the basics of each sport, or they can jump right into the action against artificial intelligence and/or friends and family.
    “Kinect Sports Rivals” does a great job with the presentation, with no frame rate drops and average graphics. The game incorporates a particularly funny plot that revolves around three competing teams —The Eagle Legion, The Viper Network and The Wolf Clan — and includes clichéd characters that add some humor to the game. There isn’t a huge learning curve to play the game, so most anyone can begin having fun within minutes. I enjoyed the role-playing elements, with which players can level their champions based on the number of fans they’ve collected as well as through individual events.
    Of course, because it’s a Kinect game, there are a couple of issues with it. Sometimes, its tracking is a little off, and this can be really frustrating. For example, when target shooting, the reticule occasionally will jump around as the Kinect attempts to read how the player is pointing his or her arm. Navigation is also marred by the same issues when a player is using his or her hands and even voice, but if needed, the controller can be used to navigate menus. Another annoyance is that the champion creation must be done each time the game is played. I think the developer should have given players an option to skip this step and instead included some generic champions from which to choose.
    Although the Kinect does have some issues, most Kinect games are very entertaining and work well. “Kinect Sports Rivals” definitely gives players something to do with their Kinects other than Skype and navigation. Gamers who are looking to get up off the couch and add a little physical interaction into their gameplay will be delighted to add “Rivals” to their collection.

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