Kinect Sports Rivals takes Kinect seriously, in a way that no game for the Xbox One yet has. It’s absurd that the Xbox One’s Kinect hadn’t been utilized to the extent that Sports Rivals makes use of it now. Here the developers at Rare and the teams responsible for this game at Microsoft Studios give the platform a good kick in the pants.
This game can be controlled entirely by your hand and your voice. To see a list of commands available to you at any time you can say "Listen". In general though, it’s your hand that you’ll be using.
The most impressive part of this game is the creation and use of your Champion. That’s your avatar, and the person you play with throughout the game.
There’s a process which cannot be recorded by Xbox One’s built-in game recording DVR in which you’re scanned by the Xbox One Kinect and turned into a Champion. They say you’re built with Digital DNA, and as you’re "made", you fall in love with the game.
When you see yourself turned into a digital being over the course of a process which takes around 5 minutes, you’ll know. You’ll know that you need to play the game - because you’ll feel guilty leaving your avatar in the machine without having fun, after all.
It sounds absurd, but it’s true. When I first saw myself appear on the screen, I couldn’t wait to play the game. The idea that I was going to be playing a game with my hands and feet and body - that seemed fun. But seeing my digital representation created so effortlessly - that really got me.
• 3D face shape scan
• Skin color detection
• Hair color detection
• Hair style detection
• Glasses detection
• Facial hair detection
• Physique detection
Above you’re seeing a list of items this game has "under the hood" with Kinect. It’s very, strangely, accurate.
While scanning my face, Sports Rivals asked me to take my glasses off. Once I’d been scanned, it seemed like my face may have been a bit too large. In fact the system had scanned my beard and applied it - the scale was right, and my Champion really looks like me.
Games included with the first release of Kinect Sports Rivals are Wake Racing, Bowling, Climbing, Soccer, Target Shooting, and Tennis. You can play against the Xbox One’s Champions locally, against friends locally, or against everyone in the world through Kinect Sports Rivals Hub.
To play the rest of the world, you’ll need to download Kinect Sports Rivals Hub - a separate piece of software, mind you. There you can also share shots of your Champion, compare your progress with the rest of the planet, and compete in Rivals League Challenges - for this we’ve got very little experience, as we’ve only had the game before the public.
Locally, this game is easily the finest example of a reason to purchase a second Xbox One Wireless Controller yet made. But you don’t use the controller. But you do need one to play with more than one Champion at a time.
Each of the six games available here are interesting if not entertaining enough to play several times. Tennis and Bowling are most obvious how to play and to get used to. They’ve both got predecessors in previous generations of Kinect Sports as well - here you’ll see the most powerful and obvious improvements over past generations as well.
Wave Racing is a game we wish had more depth. Wave Racing is so entertaining that it feels limited. It works perfectly well, and it looks amazing, but it should be easy enough to drive as much excellence in this title as Riptide GP2, an Android game. Gameplay isn’t the problem, it’s just the potential this title has.
Climbing is the game that’ll take the most getting used to. Opening and closing your hand is not something a device less accurate than the Xbox One Kinect could work with. In Climbing, it’s just as important to be accurate with your hand movements as it is to be quick.
Soccer has a lot to live up to. This is the first time a game has been pushed as taking such an interactive stab at putting players in their heroes shoes. With next-generation head and leg tracking, Kinect Sports Rivals takes a game largely based around running and, somehow or another, keeps you entertained while standing in place.
Target Shooting requires that you be quick, and it lends itself well to making sure you trust this generation’s Kinect implicitly. If you want to learn how to interact with the Xbox One Kinect as accurately as possible, here’s a good place to start.
This review is short simply because we’ve not had a lot of time to kick the game around. It’s a multiplayer game, one made more for at-home groups of players, but still - we’ll be updating the review as we have more online experiences.
If you’ve not been convinced one way or the other by the end of this review, please feel free to return again. After we’ve had more experience, you’ll see this review grow.
If you’re new to SlashGear Reviews: they grow with each major update to the device or game we’ve reviewed. In this review you’ll see additions to gameplay especially.
Kinect Sports Rivals will be released on April 8th, 2014 in several regions. The first wave will include North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Greater Europe will have the game on the 11th of April.
This game will cost a cool $59.99 USD, as is generally true of all new releases from major studios for this platform. It is unique and it is a game that you’ll want to have if you want to prove to yourself that it’s worth having that interactive camera device sitting below your television turned on.