Kinect Sports Rivals, the latest Xbox One exclusive, is a collection of athletic mini-games tailored for - you guessed it - the Kinect. This game hopes to compel gamers to use the improved Kinect 2.0 for more than just navigating menus.
The game starts off by using the Kinect's camera to scan your face and physique to create a digital champion in your image. The result is a cartoony avatar that actually looks like you. I must say I was impressed by this feature as we're finally getting a glimpse of what Kinect 2.0 is capable of.
Here's what Leah and I look like as Champions:
You're then ready to unlock one by one each of the six activities: jet ski racing, rock climbing, target shooting, soccer, bowling and tennis. To do so, not only must you complete a tutorial but you must also follow a weak and superfluous storyline involving three factions: the Eagle Legion, the Viper Network and the Wolf Clan. I felt the faction challenges slowed down my immediate progression and could've been offered as a side objective.
The selection of activities seems quite straightforward. However, Rivals adds a futuristic twist to each one. For example, rock climbing has electrical obstacles and soccer uses holograms instead of actual team-mates. As you progress through challenges, you can also purchase various power-ups that if used wisely, can tip the competition in your favour.
The sports themselves are hit or miss. The Kinect does a better job of tracking hands making sports like bowling a better experience. The Jet Ski racing, virtual bowling and tennis feel natural and are my favourites. The shooting is awkward and too passive as you only needed to point at a target to shoot it. I found the rock climbing to be repetitive and predictable. The simplified soccer was by far the worst as most of the mechanics are based on timing and not on the motion and direction of your kicks.
Kinect Sports Rivals still delivers a fun and competitive experience. There will always be a record to break or a bonus to unlock. You can measure yourself against your friends or against the whole world. I don't see Kinect Sports Rivals being a console seller like "Wii Sports" was for the Nintendo Wii eight years ago, however, it's nice to experience what Kinect 2.0's is capable of.
Kinect Sports Rivals is available as of today exclusively for the Xbox One.