Review: 'Kinect Sports Rivals' a moving experience

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 7, 2014 at 10:28 am •  Published: April 7, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When the Xbox One was unveiled last year, Microsoft boasted the Xbox 360 successor would feature an updated — and mandatory — version of its camera-based Kinect sensor with more accurate movement tracking and voice detecting. Then, when the Xbox One was released last November, there were hardly any games that actually employed the new doodad.

That's changing now with the release of "Kinect Sports Rivals" ($59.99), a stylish collection of virtual athletic pursuits crafted by veteran game maker Rare. "Rivals" hopes to compel Xbox One owners to use Kinect for more than just navigating menus. The game itself is composed of six activities: Jet Ski racing, bowling, rock climbing, tennis, target shooting and soccer.

While that may sound like a straightforward selection of Olympic sports coming to Rio de Janeiro in 2016, the quasi-futuristic versions depicted in "Rivals" more closely resemble those weird sports the Enterprise crew would play in the holodeck on "Star Trek: The Next Generation." For example, rock climbing features electrical obstacles and soccer has holograms.

Before any mountains are conquered or goals are scored, "Rivals" scans users' actual bodies and faces, creating a cartoony avatar that resembles their real appearance. They can later be outfitted with customizable uniforms and gear earned by playing games. It's the most innovative aspect of "Rivals" — and hopefully just a glimpse of the true capabilities of Kinect 2.0.

The sports themselves are a mixed bag. For me, virtual bowling, tennis and Jet Ski racing most closely resemble their real-world counterparts because the new Kinect does a better job of following hands. Shooting and climbing are awkward but amusing. I was least impressed with the dumbed-down soccer.