Enter the motion control, enter the sports game. The release of any motion controller has in the past always been matched with the release of a sports title and Microsoft has followed suit with the predictably named Kinect Sports.
Industry standards such as bowling, table tennis and boxing all have a home here along with new entrants and sports involving full body movement like track and field, soccer and beach volleyball.
After getting used to the idea of not having a controller, and finally getting bored of pretending to use the force, the standard sports like table tennis have no real point of difference than on other machines. You still swing your arm in either a forehand or backhand movement and when it recognises your attempts at top spin you can at times feel vindicated for putting in the extra effort.
The soccer and track and field games involve your feet and body, which is new, and my kicks at goal generally went in the right direction. Running on the spot, knees pumping saw you build speed for track events and colour-coded help in timing jumps saw the hurdles and long jump increase both heart and profanity-per-minute rates.
While we all dream of being the next Rocky Balboa the boxing has difficulty registering your movements and any attempts at playing defensively are largely pointless. With my arms up, prepared to defend the first salvo and counter punch when I could, my partner had me down for the count at 38 seconds into the first round using a windmill style of her own creation.
Kinect Sports lives up to its ambitions, even if its ambitions aren’t very lofty: It’s a sports title that can be pulled out at a pinch, a fun experience with friends and family, and it delivers in that regard.
You can set yourself up for a long game of table tennis or a full ten frames of bowling single play but the most enjoyment is to be had in the team party mode.
The game prompts you to divide yourself into two teams and then assigns you a mascot who will be your representative on the sports field. In party mode you will play through six randomly selected mini-game versions of all the sports on offer with the winner of each receiving points.
Competition quickly becomes fierce and a bouyant soundtrack between games keeps the energy up. When party mode came to an end we were surprised, embarrassed and delighted to watch highlights of our competition. Kinect had been recording our actions and was now showing us what we looked like as we ran arms flailing on the spot, launching ourselves into a long jump, or rolling a gutter ball.
All of the events in Kinect Sports have multiplayer support both locally and online, and most can be played either competitively or cooperatively. While at most two players can take part simultaneously on a single console it is possible for you both to team up against online opponents in beach volleyball, soccer, and table tennis.
Sports are much more fun to play with friends than they are to play solo, though depending on the size of the space that you're playing in, you might find that slower, single turn based sports like bowling and long jump are the only ones that you can play comfortably with people in the same room.
When two players are in front of the screen it is best to be between eight to ten feet from the Kinect unit. Wild elbows and flailing arms become a danger in the more up tempo sports.
While Kinect Sports falls flat in the single player experience the fun to be had with friends carries it. Occasional motion control issues and the space required can hinder some of the fun but overall, and in a market flooded with choice, Kinect Sports holds its ground and should bring some high energy entertainment to your living room.
A sufficient launch title.