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'Rivals' takes 'Kinect Sports' to the next level

Apr 11, 2014

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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>Kinect Sports RivalsThe Kinect has come a long way since it was first introduced in 2010. Like all motion sensor systems, it took a while to iron the bugs out. In all its glory, Kinect Sports Rivals represents just how far the technology has come.

Motion sensor games live or die on the feel of things. If it doesn't feel like you are swinging a baseball bat, if it doesn't feel like you are steering a boat, if it doesn't feel like you are throwing or rolling a ball then nothing else really matters. Kinect Sports Rivals achieves that and more.

The set-up behind each activity borrows from American Gladiators or The Running Man. You are a rookie superstar looking to make an impact on the Kinect Sports world. That includes perhaps joining already established teams and definitely competing against bitter rivals.

>Kinect Sports RivalsGetting suited up is an impressive experience. The Kinect scans your entire body and face then through some tech wizardry, pumps out your digital replica. For a laugh, I tried the process out on several family members and the cat. The results were uncanny, except for the cat who wasn't impressed in the slightest. Hello, Grumpy Cat.

Once you are ready to go, you are introduced to Coach, a blustering, grizzled veteran who details each sport and dispenses advice with all the grace of Nick Fury chomping on a cigar on the flight deck of a SHIELD Helicarrier.

The available sports are soccer, target shooting, Jet Ski racing, rock climbing, bowling and tennis. 

Soccer is a simplified adaption of the Kinect Sports version. Like a game of table football or foosball, you pass around enemy players who move back and forth trying to block your passes and advancement up the field. When your rival has the ball, you play as the goalie only. That's pretty much it and therefore, it gets dull fast. Soccer is the weakest of all the selections.

>Kinect Sports RivalsTennis and bowling are more advanced than the other motion sensor renderings you might have played. You can put a spin on the ball in bowling, which adds a whole new layer to the experience and in tennis more than just your standard swing is available to you, which expands the strategic options. 

Target shooting requires you to use your hand as a gun while challenging a rival while Jet Ski racing feels like it should, riding and controlling a motorcycle on water.

Astoundingly enough, rock climbing is the most divergent and possibly the most realistic of the bunch. Reaching and remembering to grip the tricky hand-holds while hoisting yourself up and around obstacles is more complicated and a lot more entertaining than you would ever expect.

To make things even better, each event has its own power-ups, such as charging up shots and special techniques. In rock climbing, you can cruelly pull or knock a foe off the cliff face. In target shooting, you can blast away your rival's targets, decreasing their points and force them to stop shooting and dodge the barrage of an auto turret. If successfully executed, both underhanded tricks are extremely satisfying.  

>Kinect Sports RivalsAs you might expect, by advancing in rank, you gain points and currency to spend on outfitting your warrior. If you take things one step further and use the Kinect Sports Rivals Hub, you can face even more rivals, gain fans and special items.

Kinect Sports Rivals outclasses Kinect Sports in every way. Personalizing the experience and incorporating power-ups and sneaky moves sure does enhance all of the collection of mini-games. 

Kinect Sports Rivals is a valiant effort on Rare's part. It does everything right and everything well but if a Star Wars title incorporating light sabres or optional motion sensor gameplay like we've seen in recent releases cannot grab the attention of gamers, like rhythm games, you have to wonder if that boat sailed a long time ago.

Kinect Sports Rivals Kinect Sports Rivals
Format: Xbox One
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Rare
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
Official Site:

Rating: 7 / 10

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