5 Reviews

Kinect Sports

Drop in the motion

In the real world, when you throw a javelin 31 metres at an international athletics event - dodgy shoulder or no dodgy shoulder - you are rewarded with ridicule and derision. It's the way it's always been. You, sir, can consider yourself a washout.

Not in Kinect Sports. In Kinect Sports, your paltry efforts are recompensed with that-Kasabian-one-dad-likes pumped out across the arena. In Kinect Sports, you're roundly applauded across the terraces.

In Kinect Sports, you're all winners.

Only you're not. Rare may fail to realise it - then again, they're smart types, so maybe they do - but this mollycoddling of your mishaps only serves to build frustration over your own ineptitude.

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In two-player - with a friend giggling at your impotent attempts - on-screen celebration is even worse than the sound of disparagement; it's the sound of over-compensation.

Kinect Sports does not begin as a title that engenders blood-boiling competitive challenge. It's laughable, in truth. The rules and mechanics of real-world sport are bent so far, it makes it very hard to take seriously.

The way a goal kick is awarded after you've scored in football. The way there's no spinning or legwork involved in the discus whatsoever. The way you can smash the 100m 'World Record' by tickling 11 seconds.

None of it indicates this is a title that either deserves to truly elate you - or get your goat. For those emotive reactions, you need sporting challenge; and this, you'll tell yourself, this is just too easy.

But it creeps up on you. Eventually, you start caring about cracking 13 metres in the Long Jump, or pulverising your opponent at Table Tennis.

Because beyond its hideous TV ads (wall to wall with brilliant white teeth, remember); beyond its Prozac-powered incidental music and gurning, United Colours Of Benetton teams; and beyond its pluralistic celebration of winners and losers... Kinect Sports is just a really good game.

Sure, it's hardly a cauldron of fierce competition - and it's about as original as an Elvis impersonator's squirrel burger. But it looks the part, with vibrant HD graphics that are a smart halfway house between cartoonish and realistic. Most importantly, it will keep you coming back - whether you're a Granny at Xmas or a hardened FIFA nut.

Appropriately, Football is a good place to start - it's one of Kinect Sports' real triumphs. As you can safely predict, 'Soccer' (sorry) doesn't involve any running about by your good self. The CPU takes care of all that.

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You simply have to punt the ball (with your feet!) in one of three directions before you get tackled or - wait for it - the ref punishes you for 'time wasting'.

I know, I know. Rare would have been better to have taken the ridicule on the chin and called it 'laser kick' for all its real life similarities.

But in a way, this sort of nonsense is why 'Soccer' (sorry) is such a master-stroke - especially as it's almost certainly the first thing you'll play in Main Event (the closest thing Kinect Sports has to a Career Mode).

Soccer (sorry) is so ridiculous, so unlike the beautiful game, it kills dead the expectation that Kinect Sports will be related to the rules and regulations of its real life inspiration. In turn, that frees Rare up to provide you with... pretty much whatever it likes, really. And that's where Kinect Sports succeeds so well.

So, in addition to all the faux pas already mentioned, Soccer (sorry) contains no option to tinker with tactics or formation. All it has is passes, blocks, shots, headers and corners... also known as all the exciting bits of football (hooray!) without the tactical expertise.

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