Kinect Sports Season 2

A More Refined Sports Experience

A Good Reason For Owning Kinect

November 3, 2011
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In truth, Kinect Sports Season 2 feels more like a substantial piece of DLC than a whole new game. This is mostly due to the fact that there are only six sports to play here, and they’re all radically different from the track and field focus of the first game. Combine them together and you have the complete package. Still, the sports are fun and Season 2 sports enough refinements to help set it apart from the first game, and it’s one of the best reasons to own Kinect; so it does have that going for it.

Kinect Sports Season 2 feels even more like the Kinect version of Wii Sports. It has tennis, baseball and golf in it, all of which were featured in Wii Sports. And while swinging your arms around may feel fairly similar, even if you aren’t holding a controller, it’s still a lot of fun. The other games – darts, football and skiing – are also very enjoyable, simple, and easy fun. But as I said, along with various versions of these activities, that’s all there is here. It’s not a bad group to select from, they’re all fun, but the inclusion of a few more would help this collection feel more substantial and more like a full sequel.

All of the second editions of Kinect launch games are making a big deal about their voice command feature, and I admit it’s pretty nice. It’s very convenient to just tell your game what to do without having to use a controller or wave your arms around. Forza 4 also has this, which is awesome, and Mass Effect 3 will feature this same kind of voice command, and going by how well it’s been implemented so far, I think that’s a good move. However, you need to be aware of your speaker set-up. My center speaker is actually pretty near Kinect, which means if the background music of the game is too loud, Kinect has a hard time registering my voice commands. It’s not a big deal to turn down the game or mute it until you get things set up, but it is something to be aware of. Voice commands can also be used in-game, and again it works well depending on volume. I really enjoyed calling audibles in football or just saying “ready, hike!” to snap the ball. Every game has smart, useful ways to use voice commands and it’s one of the better refinements this time around.

Kinect controls also felt refined, or at the very least it seemed like I had less trouble doing things than I did in the first game (which still worked well enough as it was). However, where running and jumping like you had to do a lot of in the first game feels fairly natural, holding nothing but air while I swing my virtual golf club or tennis racket felt a little weird. I almost would rather have at least the handle of something, especially in golf, to give some sort of tactile feeling to what I’m doing. That weirdness issue aside, Kinect tracks all of your motions well, almost too well actually. While I would often try to mimic just the right kind of motion playing baseball or golf, my kids were much less accurate but got nearly the same results (sometimes better). I guess that makes it fun for everyone, but I’d still like an edge for my more accurate, athletically precise movements. Also, be careful you don’t throw your shoulder out playing these game. For some reason having nothing to hold made me a bit more reckless with my swings and throws and my shoulder was fairly sore the next day because of it.

Kinect Sports Season 2 takes all the things that worked well from the first game and tosses in some new sports. You can still have fun party challenges – which has a new spin-for-the-sport feature and is nice because you can change it by spinning again if you don’t like what you get – the silly, goofy versions of the sports to play with mascots in crazy outfits, and lots of two player competition which can get pretty intense in a family. Also, leave plenty of space so you don’t smack each other swinging for the fences. We learned that lesson in a very tearful manner. If there was a way to have the field events from the last game and these more traditional sports all on the same menu to choose from, it’d be the perfect package. As it stands, this feels like a substantial update to Kinect Sports, but not quite like a full sequel. Still, refined motion tracking and solid voice command support, as well as some really fun sports makes Kinect Sports Season 2 one of the best ways to show off what Kinect can do and will make you feel happy that you own it.

Score out of 7:

Graphics: 5 – Continues the tradition of the bright, colorful, kid friendly, avatar-based look of the first game (hence all the Wii Sports comparisons). Menus are simple and easy to navigate. The game looks good, quite good actually, but it’s not one to show off HD graphics with.

Sound: 5 – Very much reflects the style of the graphics; bright, happy, friendly and fun. The clips of familiar songs for the celebrations enhances the whole party atmosphere which makes this an infectiously fun game to play.

Controls: 6 – Kinect controls feel even better this time around, more precise and responsive. Voice commands are a nice touch and add a little something extra to the games, although it all depends on how much noise is in the room for how well they’ll work.

Gameplay: 5 – While the selection of games feels a bit shallow, they’re all very fun to play and great to play with friends. It’d be nice if you could choose both from these sports and the field events of the first game from the same menu.

Story: N/A

Content: 7 – Just good, clean, family fun.

Final: 5 – Kinect Sports Season 2 doesn’t feel quite like a full-on sequel mainly because there are only six new activities to try. However, there are lots of other refinements to an already proven formula, so if you’re looking for a fun family game or one to play with friends when they’re over, and want a good reason for owning Kinect, this game is definitely one the best ones around for all of that.

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