Microsoft introduced Kinect Sports in 2010 as a way for Xbox 360 owners who just picked up the Kinect accessory to experience a variety of sports-themed mini-games, which included Bowling, Table Tennis and Boxing. On that note, the series made the official jump to Xbox One in Kinect Sports Rivals, which sets to make the overall sports experience less childish, as the cartoonish Xbox Avatars were replaced with ones that capture players' faces. Some fan-favourite sports return in Rivals, although some new and exciting sports also made the cut.
Avatars as unique as a snowflake
As we mentioned earlier, Kinect Sports Rivals uses the power of the Xbox One's Kinect sensor to create an avatar. When you first launch Rivals, you'll stand in certain positions for the game to successfully capture your likeness. One of the more time-consuming portions of the avatar creation process scans your face at multiple angles in order to capture every little nuance; long, but definitely worth the wait.
Once you're done creating your avatar, you'll receive a close representation of yourself, which will battle Rivals players around the world. If you prefer not to have your likeness sent out for the entire world to see, Rivals gives you the option to randomize your avatar.
Let the games begin
Kinect Sports Rivals includes a number of fan-favourite sports, such as Bowling and Soccer, although the majority of sports included in the game are new. In total, you'll be able to take part in six sports, including Rock Climbing, Wake Racing, Tennis and Target Shooting, in addition to the other two sports previously mentioned. Our favourite sport was Tennis, which as you'd expect, allows players to swing a virtual racket to score points against their opponent. Our least favourite was Target Shooting, as bullets automatically travel from the gun as soon as the reticule makes its way over the target.
Rock Climbing is without question one of the most interesting activities, as the player uses his or her arms and body to make their way up an obstacle. From time to time, you'll need to cover a large distance by physically jumping in order to reach certain rocks. Wake Racing, on the other hand, will give adrenaline junkies the fix they need, as they'll race on wave runners against opponents. Each race features ramps that players can propel their wave runner from and perform tricks to help recharge their power-ups, as well as earning additional experience points.
Rivals allows players to jump into any of these activities directly after completing its avatar creation process, although playing through its Story Mode seemed to be the best way to experience each sport. Rivals teaches you how to properly play the sports through the use of an ex-drill instructor turned coach who barks orders. Once you pass the tutorial, you'll then play a real game with or against one of the three teams included in Rivals: Wolf Clan, Viper Network and Eagle Legion. As you progress through Rivals, you'll be able to join one of the teams, who will offer some unique equipment attributes as well as challenges.
Level up to become the best in the world
Kinect Sports Rivals features a levelling system, which rewards players a number of ways when they play any of the included sports. At the end of your match, you'll score experience points for the sport you just took part in, which will unlock equipment that can be equipped to offer a new power-up, improve the effectiveness of the power-up and increase the recharge rate of your power-up. You'll also get points used to purchase equipment or new clothing for your avatar, and you'll gain fans as well. Rivals' levelling system also helps in matching players against one another, as your opponents will become more challenging the more experience you gain in a particular sport.
Kinect Sports Rivals is a solid entry to the series
Kinect Sports Rivals offers some unique gameplay mechanics for each sport and certainly helps players feel better connected with their athlete by using their likeness. Being able to play against other athletes around the world is one of the neatest features of this title, especially when you become more experienced and compete against challenging players. If you enjoyed previous versions of Kinect Sports, then you're going to dig Rivals. Just make sure you use the Kinect in an environment that allows it to read all of your movements without any trouble.
GAME's Verdict: 7/10The Good
- Classic and new sports offer a lot of variety
- Unlockable equipment helps give players the edge when competing
- Using the player's likeness for his or her athlete
- Only six sports included, two of which were previously included in Kinect Sports titles
- Target Shooting doesn't let you pull a virtual trigger