Kinect Sports Rivals

Kinect Sports Rivals Preview for Xbox One

On: Xbox One
Review Verdict Read Review
5Out of 10
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Kinect Sports Rivals screenshot
Kinect Sports Rivals screenshot

Kind of... While that's a very 'sitting on the fence' answer to a question many are asking, Kinect's biggest problem still lies in the same place it did before: the idea of motion controls. You'll still be holding your arms out in front of you, jumping up and down, or basically making a fool of yourself.

However, if the concept appeals, or you saw potential with the original Kinect, then Kinect Sports: Rivals will easily impress.

Adding in three new sports - rock climbing, wake racing and target shooting - finished off with the returning football, tennis and bowling, the new Kinect sensor is ridiculously improved over its predecessor. Picking up every movement with ease without any noticeable lag, the over-the-top gestures we've all come to love (or hate) seem to be a thing of the past.

This was showcased at GamesCom with the aforementioned wake boarding. Channeling Wave Race 64 - a fact Rare itself readily admitted - it's the standard fair of positioning your arms as if they were on the handles of a jet ski and then forming a fist with your right hand to accelerate. Turning is achieved by shimmying your hands left and right, tighter corners asking that you lean your body in further.

It works incredibly well in terms of responding to how and when you move, and the ability to do be far less animated than before - you can sit down or get stupidly close to Kinect - means it's more comfortable to play. As said, though, it's still motion control, just motion control done a lot better than maybe it's ever been done before. That doesn't mean it'll all of a sudden completely change your opinion on it.

Kinect Sports: Rivals does have plenty of potential, however. Rock climbing - which isn't exactly the most sought after simulation - decides to ape historic TV show Gladiators and one of the most ridiculous tests it put forward: The Wall. Asking you to, yes, scale a mountain face, you're more than welcome to reach out, grab a rival competitor and throw them into the abyss (in my demo, the climbers were not wearing safety harnesses).

Kinect Sports Rivals screenshot

Aside from being genuinely funny, it's how both this and the act of climbing work that's most eyebrow raising. Kinect reads your hand's movement near perfectly. You're able to move it wherever you see fit - which is, obviously, replicated in-game - allowing you to not only choose exactly which hole you grab - and therefore choosing which path you take - but who you want to grasp and where in order to (in my mind) kill them. It genuinely works and is genuinely entertaining, the real appeal being that Kinect doesn't slow the experience down or simply ignore what you're telling it to do.

Rare has built an entire meta-game around Rivals, too. The power of the cloud will bring in other player's scores, feats and times to constantly give you a new challenge as you try to return to the top of the heap. Upset, beat or just berate another competitor too much, and they will even become your 'rival', putting a target on your head regardless which sport you're taking part in.

Almost absurdly, the true highlight of Rare's first game on Xbox One is how Kinect creates a cartoon replica of you when it's time to make an avatar. Scanning your face and body type, the results are oddly good. You can even cup your ears as the device scans your head and the music will dim.

Gimmicky? Most definitely, but Kinect Sports: Rivals seems to be what Microsoft envisioned it would when the original came along: its own Wii Sports. It's damn closer now that it ever has been.

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User Comments

Darkwaknight's Avatar

Darkwaknight@ SimonMiller

Well if you were there and saw/played it I stand corrected. I was just going on her head movements coinciding with the screen avatar it looked delayed... I will see when I pick up my X1 at Launch. Thanks for the reply.
Posted 17:35 on 22 August 2013


Kinect Sports was/is great fun so any improvements made will be good.

The main issue has always been lag and lack of accurate control, so this is what I want sorted from Kinect 2.

Mind you, this is coming from someone who also saw the fun in Kinect Star Wars!
Posted 17:06 on 22 August 2013
SimonMiller's Avatar

SimonMiller@ Darkwaknight

I can say with confidence there's no lag. I did three laps of that wave race mini-game and it was spot-on.
Posted 16:52 on 22 August 2013
Darkwaknight's Avatar


Looks as poor and Laggy as the original kinect from that Video.. and there was no shot of her and the screen at the same time.. I reserve judgement and refrain from holding my breath!!
Posted 16:29 on 22 August 2013
Karlius's Avatar


I have just been watching this and was pleasantly surprised. Kinect sports was always the best implementation of the technology in my opinion and the improvements sound great. I was impressed with the quality of the scanning.

See for yourself:

YouTube Video
Posted 16:13 on 22 August 2013

Game Stats

Release Date: 11/04/2014
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Microsoft
Genre: Sports
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 1,680 224
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