- Kinect Sensor Required
- Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
- Developer: Rare, Big Park
- ESRB Rating: "E" for Everyone
- Genre: Sports
- Pros: Nice presentation; tennis; golf; voice controls
- Cons: They picked the wrong sports for this game; load times
The six sports presented in Kinect Sports Season Two - baseball, football, darts, golf, skiing, and tennis - all play somewhat reasonably like their real-world counterparts. The problem is that some of them just aren't fun here and I can't see any of them really drawing you back to play them more than once the way bowling, boxing, and table tennis did in the original Kinect Sports. It has to be noted that the original Kinect Sports had some duds as well - volleyball, soccer, and track & field - but it did also have those three other standout sports that made it worth returning to weeks and months after release. Kinect Sports Season Two, on the other hand, doesn't really have that one great thing that keeps you coming back.
Tennis - Tennis is one of the better sports in the game. Your player moves to an appropriate spot on the court automatically, but you still have to turn your body to be in the right position for backhands or forehands. You can also direct your shots left or right depending on how you swing, add power by stepping into the shot, and even do drop shots. There is quite a bit of disconnect between what you're actually doing versus what appears onscreen, though. The game sort of plays itself as long as your timing is decent. You are usually better off swinging early rather than trying for accurate timing. Once you figure out the rhythm of the game (swinging way early), it does play fairly well and like I said, it is satisfying when you hit a shot exactly where you wanted. You can also argue with the umpire using Kinect voice controls, which is always a hoot.
Darts - Real-world darts is fun. Videogame darts is not fun. In Kinect Sports darts you move your hand around to line up a cursor on the dart board. By pulling your hand toward your body, you lock the cursor into that position. Then, by flicking your hand forward like you are throwing a dart, you throw at the board. The speed of your hand moving forward determines where the dart actually ends up - high or low or dead on to where you were aiming. Playing with any real accuracy is kind of a pain, though. I can hit 20's all day long in this game, but hitting doubles or triples with any regularity is a much bigger problem. Part of it has to do with the janky way you "aim", but also because Kinect is far from perfect at reading the speed of your hand when you throw. I'd rather play real darts.
Football - Football is a huge mess. It is too easy and way too boring. You snap the ball and then throw to a receiver running a route down the field. When they catch the ball, you have to run in place and step side to side to dodge defenders. It isn't fun. At all. And I hate games that make you run in place. Not just here, but all Kinect games that do it. It is just stupid.
Skiing - Skiing is, well, skiing. You lean left or right to turn, crouch to build up speed, and jump to fly through the air. It is better than the skiing in any other Kinect game so far, but not all that fun. It does control fine, but after you make a run or two it loses its luster.
I think my biggest problem with the sports in Kinect Sports Season Two, and all of the other sports and minigame collections really, is that when you dissect everything down into simple parts that will actually work with Kinect, a lot of the fun of that sport disappears. When Kinect is used well, it can be amazingly fun. It has limitations, though, and when real sports and games are dumbed down and simplified enough to actually work within those limitations, they aren't all that fun anymore even if they might work with the motion controls okay. Just being functional, while a major success compared to some Kinect stinkers released so far, isn't enough. Games need to be fun too.
Specifically to KSS2, Kinect football is awful from the ground up. I thought last year's MotionSports title would have made that clear. Tennis and golf, while fun and the best of the bunch, are too easy and basically play themselves. Skiing is boring past your first couple of runs down the hill. Baseball is too dumbed down and, frankly, the delay between you swinging and it registering in the game screws the timing up so bad it just isn't fun because you never feel like you're actually making contact. Never mind how awful pitching and fielding are. And darts just plain will never work in a videogame because aiming with a cursor is the dumbest thing ever, yet that is really the only way to play darts in a game. They just plain picked the wrong sports for this one.
One area where Kinect Sports Season Two does hold up well, however, is the presentation. It absolutely looks and sounds and feels like a bigger better, more polished sequel to Kinect Sports (until you actually start playing). Your Avatar is the star of all of these sports and looks good. The stadiums you play in also look nice. There is nothing super detailed anywhere, but it all fits the tone and theme and looks nice. The menus are easy to navigate as well. Also, like the first Kinect Sports, licensed music plays during games at appropriate times and is a nice touch that makes the whole experience feel more like a real sporting event than a game.
One issue is load times, however. There are some strangely long load times in this game, even when the disc is installed to your hard drive. I'm talking a full minute wait for an event to start, and some long load times between golf holes. It isn't ever consistent, though. Between some games, or some golf holes the load times will be super fast. Other times, it'll go slow.
Kinect Sports Season Two is a letdown. It features some of the best presentation and most functional menus of any Kinect title, but drops the ball when it came to choosing sports that are actually fun to play with motion controls. We all know videogame football, baseball, golf, and tennis can be a blast, but they have to be significantly dumbed down to really work with Kinect and the results just aren't very fun for very long. Darts was a mistake from the word go. And skiing is always going to be sort of boring when you aren't A) actually in the mountains, or B) able to perform ridiculously huge unrealistic videogame tricks. Kinect Sports Season Two is a collection of watered down sports that just aren't fun. The original Kinect Sports wasn't perfect either, but it had some great standouts that kept you coming back. Kinect Sports Season Two doesn't have those one or two great activities that you'll want to play over and over again that would make it worth owning. It can be fun in short doses, and with friends of course, but won't hold your interest long term. Rent it.