Havenâ€™t publishers learned their lesson from the Wii? That system has had year after year of completely terrible shovelware (titles that are created to fill a niche and sell product, but arenâ€™t actually any good at all), with everyone and their dog responsible for turgid piles of sports compilations that really stretch the definition of both â€˜sportsâ€™ and â€˜motion controlâ€™. And now weâ€™re seeing the same thing happen on the Kinect. Come on, Microsoft, I thought you said youâ€™d police things a bit better than this.
The latest offender is from Ubisoft, who frankly I would have expected better from. MotionSports is, predictably, another largely terribly collection of mini-games, full of broken motion controls and poorly designed challenges.
But first, the positives! Well for starters, the selection of sports on offer here are at least different from most other collections. American Football? Skiing? Horseback riding? Youâ€™ve got to admire their originality, at least.
And there is at least one good â€˜sportâ€™ here, and thatâ€™s hang gliding. Itâ€™s not perfect, but soaring gracefully over, through and under canyons, cityscapes, and other locales is actually a surprising amount of fun. Itâ€™s pleasantly peaceful, and makes a nice change of pace from all the super-active Kinect games Iâ€™ve been playing. If someone fleshed this mode out and made it into a full game, I wouldnâ€™t complain.
Itâ€™s a shame all the other games included in MotionSports are the opposite of peaceful. In fact, theyâ€™re generally just frustrating and boring, a wonderfully oxymoronic combination. Letâ€™s break them downâ€¦
American Football has you performing various tasks on a field, such as dodging barriers and opponents, hurling a ball, and so on. Half the time, I felt like my movements were ignored, resulting in much knocking into barriers â€” which, I feel I should point out, have no place in a real match of this strange sport.
Horseback riding was the strangest of the lot. You have to open your arms out to steer, pump them up and down to move faster (donâ€™t let anyone see you do this), and jump to make the horse leap. Controlling the horse is like trying to steer a tank through an obstacle course designed for a tricycle. Keeping your equine beast going where you want it to go is absorbing, yes, but itâ€™s absorbing in the same way as getting your arm slowly cut off.
Soccer focuses mainly around kicking and defending, much like Microsoftâ€™s Kinect Sports. Unlike that title, however, the user interface (UI) guides telling you whatâ€™s going on are very poor, and sporadic motion control hijinks ensure youâ€™ll be letting a lot of goals through. The game also requires you to step well back from a ball youâ€™re about to kick, then perform a run-up. Having to move so far back that I was clambering over my couch did not impress me.
Boxing isâ€¦ well, yet another attempt at punching air, only less responsive than versions from competitors. And Skiing, like horse riding, is another exercise in poor steering - although there are moments when it can be fun, generally when youâ€™re heading straight down the hill.
There are few customisation options, which to be honest was actually quite refreshing. You can jump into events fairly quickly, although of course you soon might not want to. Each sport is broken down into a collection of sub-challenges, which â€” in a moment of very poor design â€” you have to unlock one by one. Requiring medals in each previous sub-challenge to progress is simply ridiculous, especially since the game gives you very little feedback on what you might be doing wrong in any given event. I predict most gamers wonâ€™t ever bother unlocking much here, if they were unfortunate enough to own this game.
And thatâ€™s about it, really. Everything about this game is either bog-standard and forgettable (audio and graphics fall under this heading) or broken and un-enjoyable (nearly all of the actual gameplay). Hang gliding is a rare moment where fun can be had, but it sure isnâ€™t worth the price of admission. Come on guys, do better than this. Please?