Kinect Sports was the number one selling Kinect title in Japan, so we hung out with Brent Poynton and Travis Ryan from Microsoft Game Studios to check out the upcoming sequel.
Kinect Sports Season 2 brings six new sports into the mix, including basbeball, skiing, darts, American football , golf and tennis. We got a first glimpse of Kinect Sports skiing, where myself and my colleague took to the floor to challenge each other to a downhill ski race. Kinect Sports makes sure to utilise the Kinect device as much as it can, mapping your body one to one with the character on screen, so you can wave, dance and see your character mimicking your every move. If you’ve yet to experience the wonder camera, it's somewhat eerie to see.
We prepped ourselves at the gate at the top of the slope, and were introduced to the new voice commands feature. Over 3000 phrases are used in this title; for example, if we were to shout "LETS GO!" right as the gates open, we’d get a speed boost as we launched ourselves down the hill.
Moving yourself left to right will steer you down the slopes in that direction, leaning forward will tuck your character in, allowing for a more aerodynamic approach down the hill. But with speed comes less horizontal control. To get a better time you must steer through the centre of two flags which are set up down the hill as you make your way down to the finish line.
Visually the game is really good, very colourful and obviously optimised for family fun. Once you cross the finish line you can gain fan points if you dance around a bit. Fans are something you collect as you play through Kinect Sports Season 2; these characters will actually accumulate and appear in the background of your score screens and cheer you on as you cycle through how many calories you lost during your play session.
Another new feature to Season 2 is the Challenge Mode. Here you can play slightly different versions of each sport and make a challenge to anyone on your friends list. The Skiing Challenge game plays a lot more differently than the Main Modes version. Here, the more rounds you play through the more difficult it gets, with the rounds going into the 100's. For instance, the first round had Travis dodging simple two-block walls as he made his way down the slope. Round two had him having to duck under higher obstacles. Once he hit a wall the challenge would end. He could then send his score to Brent, and when Brent returns online he will see a challenge has been issued and can try to beat it. If Brent does beat it, Travis is then informed that his title of champion is at stake and must rightfully reclaim what is his.
Kinect Sports Season 2 is, like its predecessor, looking like a fun party game to play with your friends, but its content doesn't really extend any further than that. I would personally play each sport maybe once or twice on my own, then pull it off the shelf if I have a party or friends over who would enjoy jumping and running on the spot for an hour. Just like every other motion sports collection in the world, then, but this one does seem more polished than most.
The Good: New Features, new content, more living room space.
The Bad: My own personal fitness restrictions.
The Ugly: Possibly something you will only play at a house party.