One of the most anticipated sports games ever for the Kinect Xbox 360 line of games has to be the recently released Kinect Sports: Season Two. It’s fun, exciting, and a great way to challenge your friends/family members and get in some exercise at the same time! But, does it have the re-play value to make you keep wanting to come back to it and play it? Is it as fun to play the games solo as it is to play with others? And, what are the games you get to play?
Right from the time you plop the game into your Xbox 360, you can pick whichever of the six sports you want to play, start a challenge, or choose the quick play option, which is basically what it sounds like: quick versions of each game. And, the menu is voice-activated, which is one of the cool features about Kinect Sports: Season Two. You can challenge a friend and play him/her later by using Xbox LIVE, post your scores and photos/videos of playing the game of Facebook by using KinectShare.com. Besides this, you there are new Achievements, exciting activities and unlockable avatar awards, and players of every skill level will find something to challenge them.
There are six games you get to play: football (American version), baseball, golf, tennis, skiing, and darts. A screen shot from the football game graces the front of the game’s box. It is fun, but it’s probably the least fun and realistic of the games included. You can’t play an entire game of either football or baseball, which is a drawback,if you want to play an entire game. I am guessing that the developers of the game, Rare, wanted to instead have shorter versions that could be played in a sort of party atmosphere. They likely just wanted to provide enough of a taste of playing each game to allow a person/group of people to play each of the six games in the space of an evening.
The football game is the four-down backyard kind, where you have four downs to score. There are six different plays to choose from. You start by fielding the kickoff, then you have to run in place to get as many yards as you can on the return. On each of the downs, you can pass to one of three receivers, kick a field goal, or punt on the fourth down. If you play it in the cooperative multiplayer mode, one player is the quarterback and the other is the receiver. Some things you can’tdo are stiff-arm a oppenent or run around him/her.
There are a few problems with the football game: whether you can shake a tackle or not seems to be random. Also, your Avatar may decide to pass the ball without you making a motion for it to pass. It’s also somewhat awkward to select a receiver, in that you have to make an exaggerated motion to do so. On top of this, there’s a delay that provides one with a limited window of time for a pass to succeed.
Baseball is somewhat better. Two players play at the same time, one pitching and one batting, like in the Wii Sports game. If you’re the hitter, you can try to hit the ball as hard as you can and hope for a home run, or you can bunt the ball and try to make it to first. If you are the pitcher, you have a variety of pitches to choose from, ranging from curve balls to fast balls, and you can vary the speed of each pitch. Also, if the ball is hit to an outfielder, you can stretch your arm out to try to catch it. Also included is a Home Run Challenge, where you attempt to hit more home runs than your opponent.
There are some flaws with the baseball game, as well, in that, for instance, whether or not you hit a home run seems to be based on chance more than your abilities to actually hit one. Also, if you’re the pitcher, it can sometimes be difficult for you to get the avatar to do the pitch you want it to do. The speed of the pitch is pretty random, also. Still, it’s more fun to play than football.
The other sports are the most enjoyable, IMHO. Though other games are more realistic when it comes to golf, and the golf version plays kind of like the Mario Golf game, it’s better than the football and baseball games included. You can only play nine holes, but Kinect Sports: Season Two is, as I mentioned, best enjoyed as a party-style game or one you play with family members/friends during the course of an evening. Therefore, playing 18 holes of golf, I’m guessing the game producers felt, would possibly take away from the experience of playing each of the games in one evening’s time frame.
One good aspect about the golf as opposed to the first two sports I mentioned is that the game seems to recognize speed more, and the distance the ball travels is dependent on how fast and hard you swing the club. You can change the direction of your shot by stepping forwards or backwards. It can be tricky to line up your shot, which is a drawback. But something cool you can do is that you can use your Voice Command, you can ask the caddy for a different club. In the Challenge Event, you challenge someone and you hit balls off a boat at targets in the water, just as you might do aboard a cruise ship.
Tennis is also great fun. You can do forehand and backhand swings, and even put topspin on the ball. Also, if the ball is called “Out!” you can yell “Objection!” to challenge the ruling. In the Challenge mode, you get to hit the Kinect Sports mascots with tennis balls, which is a nice touch to the game. Tennis is one of the funnest of the games to play with your friends/family.
Skiing is the fifth sport included. To gain speed going downhill, you crouch, as if you were really skiing. You tilt from side to side to steer, and jump in place to perform jumps. If you play the Multiplayer mode, you’ll race down a course and weave through pylons to gain speed, and the winner is decided by whomever gets the fastest time and least penalties. The Challenge mode requires you and a friend to go through a more difficult obstacle course downhill, and you must dodge, duck, and jump obstacles. The only flaw about the courses is that they are all straight downhill slopes, with no twists and turns. Including these in a future game would be an improvement, but still, the skiing game is great fun.
The Darts game is, IMHO, the most enjoyable of the six. That’s because it most closely mimics in your motions how you would actually throw darts at targets. You hold the imaginary dart just as you would a real one, line up your shot, pull back at the elbow and release. How fluid your motion is, and the force at which you throw the dart, determines whether or not you hit the target and where you hit it. In the Challenge mode, you try to hit spinning balloons on a wheel for points. It’s a very good simulation of how it feels to actually play a game of darts, and to me, I’d say it’s the most fun of the six games included.
The graphics are not very realistic. more cartoony, like in many sports games for the Wii. The music is fairly lively and upbeat, but nothing all that impressive–still, it goes well with the game, and yet another cool feature about the game is that if you accomplish something in one of the sports, you can dance your Avatar around in celebration. What’s more, there’s even a calorie counter included, to let you know how much energy you’ve burned off while playing.
Kinect Sports: Season Two has some flaws, perhaps the greatest being its current price of approximately $50.00. But, it’s a fun collection of games that will provide hours of enjoyment, in particular if you play the games with friends or family members. I would recommend Kinect Sports: Season Two, but if you can find a good deal at a local store or online on it, to ease the sting of the price tag, that’s the way I’d go.