Having unfortunately missed the Xbox One launch line-up, Kinect Sports Rivals now stands as one of the biggest titles set to launch in the first half of 2014. As the third release in the series many may believe that Kinect Sports Rivals is simply more of the same beefed-up with next-generation visuals, however this is not the case. Kinect Sports Rivals is less about the adaptation of sporting events and more about the competition that it brings.
The most notable change that Kinect Sports Rivals presents is in that if the types of sports included. The usual football, tennis and bowling return, but now they are accompanied by the likes of Wake Racing; a Wave Race inspired virtual jet ski event that promises to differentiate Kinect Sports Rivals from the many competitors coming onto the scene. Players control their jet ski as would be expected: using their extended arms to steer, lift for a backflip off a ramp and a stamp of the foot to activate boost. Kinect Sports Rivals is also designed so that much lf the videogame can be played sitting down, and in the final build Wake Racing will support voice activated boosts to enable this.
The track design is wonderful, working well with the wide angle steering to present alternate routes that demand skill to access and boosts opportunities that can turn the tide of a race. The duration of each lap is timed well so that your arms won’t tire before the end of a race and the bounce off waves and obstacles reacts well to the shifts in your own body weight; it is possible to pull back lost control a tight corner by leaning in the direction you wish to turn.
Prior to beginning the event Electronic Theatre was given the opportunity to experience Kinect Sports Rivals’ face scanning technology. Thoroughly impressive, the software keenly recognised facial hair and skin tone and was quick to deliver its results. Manual fine tuning is available of course, though with the several people tested only one needed any kind of adjustment to become a recognisable virtualisation of their human counterpart.
Kinect Sports Rivals promises to be a more presentable affair than previous titles in the series, with a slick menu system offering its mini-games via locations on an island. Kinect Sports Rivals will also feature a story mode, online tournaments, cloud data competitions and much more, though none of this was available for Electronic Theatre to experience during our hands-on playtime. Whether or not the overarching systems – and other mini-games for that matter – can live-up to the expectations set by Wake Racing remains to be seen, but Electronic Theatre is looking forward to finding out.