Despite its myriad of shortcomings, Kinect does an admirable job of putting players in its world. Take MotionSports, for example, a game where your face is plastered across buildings and billboards, as well as the front pages of newspapers underneath glorifying headlines. In the game itself, a live stream of your actions can be seen on huge plasma screens, and your own personal commentator follows you through each of the six sports. It's a narcissist's delight. In treating the player like a sports celebrity, however, the game masks horrendous controls, crippling lag and strange design choices. Five minutes of cyber-fame really isn't worth the grief.
While Kinect Sports and Sports Island Freedom are essentially party games, MotionSports takes things a little more seriously. Instead of Avatars, each activity is brought to life with realistic character models and an impressive degree of realism. Red sunsets paint a backdrop for your hang glider as it swoops through expansive canyons. Horses bound across fences with authentic animations and skiers career down mountains with an appropriate sense of speed. MotionSports might be a hopelessly flawed game, but it does an admirable job of making you think otherwise.
Horse riding is perhaps the worst offender, which sees wannabe jockeys whipping imaginary reins to spur their horse onwards. As your steed approaches a fence, the idea is to jump in the air to command your horse do the same thing - because you know, that's what jockeys do in real life. As if realising their passenger is rather rudely jumping on their back, the horse will often decide to ignore the command, running straight into the fence head first. It's as funny as it sounds, but the novelty quickly wears off, and all you're left with is the frustration of the laggy, unresponsive controls.
It's a similar story for the other five games on the disc. In addition to horse riding, MotionSports includes hang gliding, American football, actual football, skiing and - what all sports game compilations can't be without - boxing. Each sport plays host to six or so different challenges, each offering a slight variant on the theme. This means there are actually 40 challenges in total, but only six - one for each sport - are available at the beginning. While there's an argument that it would have been nice to have all of these unlocked from the off, it does give the game a much needed sense of structure. As you progress you'll acquire points contributing to your overall fame, with new challenges unlocking as you become more famous. Your celebrity status differs with each sport, however, meaning you could be the biggest thing in the world of horse riding but completely unheard of in the boxing ring.
If you're looking for a quick rise to stardom, hang gliding is probably the best way to go about it, given the fact it's the least broken activity in the game. To the game's credit, it actually works quite well. I wouldn't venture as far as saying it was enjoyable, but the controls do work - which is a point worthy of praise. With your arms held out to each side, you mimic the turns and swoops of the glider like a child playing aeroplane. The idea is to navigate a gorge and land your glider safely on the other side, although later challenges will task you with flying through rings a la Pilot Wings. It's slow enough in pace not to be affected by lag, and is strangely relaxing as a result. Still, extending your arms for any longer than a few minutes is hard work, and the game quickly goes from peaceful to painful. Sure, it's a minor criticism all things considered, but I've got plenty more damaging accusations to throw at the game.
Being a goalie in football, for example, is so badly affected by lag that it barely resembles the sport at all. There's even a brief window of slow down to help you decide which side to dive for, but even then the game fails to register your choice in time. I expect many people will be attracted to MotionSports for the 'beautiful game', but there's nothing attractive about what Ubisoft has done with the sport here. Banish any thoughts of strategic 11-a-side matches from your mind - MotionSports take on the game is restricted to a series of penalty shoot outs, which see you taking it in turns as a striker and a goalie. While choosing to aim left or right is easy enough, determining the speed or vertical position of the ball is nigh on impossible, which makes hitting moving targets in subsequent challenges very difficult indeed. It's not just a bad case of awful lag, but a strange design choice in general. If you know your game isn't sensitive enough to register acute movements of the foot (which let's be honest, the developers must have done), why include a game mode that requires such demanding levels of accuracy?
At least the user-interface doesn't suffer from the same problems. While other Kinect games have you faffing about in menu screens for excruciating periods of time, MotionSports' UI is simple and intuitive. Despite this, some nice visuals and a reasonably interesting selection of activities, however, MotionSports is rarely an enjoyable experience. It's a matter of responsiveness, and MotionSports simply fails to translate your movements in real life to actions on the screen. I'm praying that developers get to grips with the Kinect tech pretty sharpish, because I'm running out of ways to say the same thing. This is another one to steer clear of, I'm afraid.