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Kinect Sports: Season Two
Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Rare Ltd.
Synopsis: Xbox 360's follow-up answer to whole-body sports gaming, Kinect Sports: Season Two presents six original mini-games geared toward athletic inspiration: baseball, darts, football, golf, skiing, and tennis. The games are played through Kinect's controller-free interface that senses motion, detects gestures, and picks up spoken commands. Virtual athletes make their in-game personas kick a ball, swing a racket, or hit a bulls eye by performing these actions in front of the Kinect sensors. Three difficulty settings are available for each sport. Following the Kinect Sports family-friendly original, Season Two puts a new emphasis on multiplayer support, with online and same-system options for cooperative and competitive play. Xbox Live Gold gamers can compete directly against others across the country, in real time or through delayed challenges that appear as in-game messages the next time Season Two is played. Players can also leave challenges for other household members on their family consoles, to be attempted at a later time. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide
Package Contents: 8-page Instruction Manual
One of the most popular uses of motion-sensing technology is adapting it to sports titles. The reasons are twofold: these titles tend to be easy to produce, making them more appealing for publishers to approve, and they do a reasonably good job at making people feel like they are actively involved with the events. The biggest selling point for the Wii was its pack-in game, Wii Sports, which introduced gaming to a completely new audience by taking familiar sports and making them more accessible through motion-sensing controls. Kinect Sports: Season Two, Microsoft's answer to the Wii's smash hit sports series, is a sequel that offers a choice of six all-new sports for the Kinect, introducing baseball, golf, darts, tennis, skiing, and football. As expected, the majority of the included sports are heavily scaled-back versions of their real-life counterparts, so each event feels more like a highlight reel than an actual game. Some sports are better realized than others. Golf feels like the most developed of the six activities, but none offer much in the way of depth. Football is limited to a series of offensive drills, such as running in place to move down the field or pulling back your arm and flinging it forward to throw the football. The rest of the games are similar in design, taking away some of the traditional actions in order to focus on specific moments. Yet the biggest problem with Kinect Sports: Season Two not necessarily the scope, but rather the execution; the imprecision the Kinect sensor makes certain actions more frustrating than fun. It also doesn't help matters that you aren't actually holding anything in your hands, taking away the tactile feedback that would make baseball, tennis, darts, and golf feel more realistic. Baseball has you swinging your arms wildly to hit from a first-person perspective, which is more trouble than it should be, and tennis does away with positioning your on-screen character in favor of swinging an imaginary racket. Subtle movements such as tilting one's wrists or swinging with speed aren't accounted for as they are in similar titles for the Wii and PlayStation Move. Each sport also has an action-oriented mini-game associated with it, such as trying to hit as many home runs as possible in baseball, offering a party-style atmosphere for multiple players. Yet these activities are surprisingly limited for a major release. In fact, Kinect Sports: Season Two seems like it was intentionally scaled back to support downloadable content. If you aren't an Xbox Live subscriber, you'll be missing out on additional golf holes, ski runs, and events such as basketball. Despite the above complaints, Kinect Sports is an appealing looking package with an upbeat presentation, straightforward gameplay, and some genuinely humorous moments. Yet it never aspires to be anything more than a diversion, and despite being on a far more powerful console and utilizing an arguably more advanced motion-sensing device, it's ultimately a step back from Nintendo's Wii Sports series. ~ All Game Guide
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