At Gamescom 2013 the Start Replay team were luckily invited to the after show Microsoft party, it’s here that we got the chance to play the next generation Kinect game, Kinect Sports Rivals.
The first thing we instantly noticed were the differences in the next generation Kinect, showcasing a much more powerful and accurate set of features compared to its predecessor. For example, in Kinect Sports you would customise your character using sliders to choose physical attributes. The new hardware however, scans your entire body, including your facial structure, and ends by building a very accurate depiction of the player. This power alone clearly shows the leap this ‘Kinect 2.0’ has taken and what we experienced throughout the party backs this up furthermore.
Rare had developed a special Gamescom hands on for Rivals, which allowed for competitive Jet Ski racing and rock climbing – Josh was the first to give it a try and chose Jet Skiing as his first activity. Almost instantly he got to grips with the controls, which were very natural and intuitive to his movements. In typical fashion you’re stood up and assume the position with the throttle as your right hand, controlling your speed by clenching and opening your hand to accelerate and decelerate, movement was controlled by pulling back with each arm. As he belted around the three-lap racecourse he also performed some stunts by pulling back or leaning forward, which would allow for back or front flips over jumps. Once his energy bar was full, lifting and then stomping his left foot would initiate a boost of acceleration. In next to no time Josh finished second on his first go, only by a hair, but upon his second attempt he won the race leaving the opposition well in his wake.
Next we moved onto rock climbing where I decided to jump in. Rather than acting as though you were on a vehicle racing, this game allowed you to see your player scale giant rock walls letting you directly control your movement as though you were climbing the wall yourself. The controls were as expe wer as I reached up with each arm, grabbing with your hands to stick to the rock face, pulling yourself up by thrusting your still clenched hands downwards. You could also jump to cover a larger distance by jumping on the spot, arms stretched high and hoping that you will be able to latch onto one of the nearby areas. As the name suggests it isn’t all climbing, your rivals are also climbing up the same rock face and pose a threat as each player, yourself included, has the ability to pull a fellow competitor off the rock face and see them plummet off the cliff face. I was doing well at this sport until my other teammate Tom decided to best me by two seconds on the climb, defeating my record and winning the match.
From what I played of Kinect Sports Rivals, I clearly see this being a major game to play with all your family and friends. Along with its ability to detect even the most subtle of movements such as a hand opening and closing, the new Kinect can simultaneously track multiple players at once with great precision allowing for greater rivalry and competitiveness. Unfortunately those were the only two activities available to try, but we were assured by one of its creative directors that everything from bowling to shooting would include the same addictive gameplay. The Kinect hardware has been vastly improved and we’re all excited to see Microsoft taking its revised hardware seriously, especially by packaging it with every single console. We’ve yet to see how much use other developers will take from the new equipment, but rest easy that the Kinect’s future is looking bright and we can’t wait to spend more time with it.