We work up a sweat with a football, javelin, the long jump, and the 100-metre dash in Microsoft’s sporty minigame collection.
Kinect Sports is a game that demands more than just your skill and concentration. In our latest hands-on with the game at Microsofts Play Day in Cologne, we worked up quite a sweat running, jumping, and waving our hands manically. Though we no doubt looked a little silly pawing at thin air, the responsiveness of the controls and the pick-up-and-play nature of the games meant there was still plenty of fun to be had looking the fool.
The first minigame we checked out was the 100-metre dash. Though you can play it solo, we had a crack at trying to beat one the developers at his own game. Gameplay was simplicity itself; we braced ourselves on the start line and waited for the off. As soon as the screen flashed GO, we ran as fast as possible on the spot and watched as our avatar mimicked our running onscreen. We were told that getting our knees up as high as possible increased the speed, and indeed, on our second run, we were able to easily beat our opponent with some comically extreme knee raises.
Long jump worked on a similar premise, albeit with the requisite jump at the end of the run. A highlighted area at the end of the track indicated when to jump, and we leapt into the air as high as possible to try to cover a good distance. A trick to extending the jump was to flail our arms in the air while jumping, which looked incredibly silly, but added to the fun. The javelin event also started with a long run, but required us to hold our hand above our shoulder as if we were holding a javelin. A marked area let us know when to throw it, and we launched our hand from our shoulder to see the onscreen javelin soar into the air. The javelin could be thrown both over and underarm; we found the underarm method landed us with the longest throw.
The final minigame we saw was football. Though it wont be rivaling the likes of FIFA, the gameplay mechanics were fun and a distinct departure from the other Olympic-style games in the collection. Rather than controlling our players directly, they were moved by AI, leaving us to concentrate on passing, tackling, and goalkeeping. When we were in control of the ball, a set of directional arrows appeared under our players so that we knew to pass to those players. By kicking, we could pass the ball, and a hard kick would make a shot on goal. When we werent in possession, we could obstruct our opponents; a gray line appeared underneath them when they prepared to pass, and by sticking one of our legs out in the same direction, our avatar would block the pass. We could also save shots on goal with our keeper by sticking our hands out in the air in the direction of the shot.
All of the events required a substantial amount of physical activity, and we were looking rather flushed after a couple of rounds of the 100-metre dash. Although the minigames were incredibly simple, they were lots of fun, particularly when we were able to challenge an opponent. One nice touch was the video replay that Kinect took during each event. The embarrassing footage is uploaded to a server and can be shared with others on social networking sites and YouTube, which is ideal if you wish to show up a friend online. There are more events yet to be revealed from Kinect Sports before it hits store shelves in November, so keep reading GameSpot for more soon.