Hitting retail shelves this week, Kinect Sports: Season 2 brings five new interactive games to your Xbox 360 and Kinect. Following in the footsteps of games like volleyball and soccer, Kinect Sports: Season 2 focuses primarily on American sports. So, the question remains: will the inclusion of sports like baseball and football make this version of Kinect Sports a system-seller?
The first major component that I noticed about this game was its heavy reliance on voice commands. While the previous Kinect Sports game made use of some voice control, practically everything (excluding swinging a bat) can be controlled with your voice in Season 2. Not only that, but the voice recognition works consistently well. The game struggles a bit if you have multiple voices speaking. However, if you can control the chatter in your living room, the voice commands make the experience especially engaging.
The reason why solid voice recognition is so special is because it makes up for the system’s overall failure to make hand navigation simple and efficient. Even in the best Kinect games, a controller will always navigate menus with more ease than hand movements. With the growth of dependable (and quick) voice control, as is seen in Kinect Sports: Season 2, Kinect can truly be labeled an important innovation.
Regarding the games within this collection, I had varying results from activity to activity. Just like in Wii Sports (and in the original Kinect Sports), this collection is not a set of complete games, but rather a series of truncated classics that are more about fun than simulation. In some cases the games still managed to be fun experiences, while in other cases the games suffer from being edited to pieces.
The game I enjoyed the most was football. The developer, Rare, captures the art of the pass rush and throwing a pass perfectly. While the absence of a running game or defense are obnoxious, I still had quite a bit of fun returning punts, picking plays, and throwing bombs to receivers. The game is a full four quarters, but doesn’t take too long to play. For Madden fans, this game will probably disappoint. But for a kid who just wants to throw or score touchdowns, it is packed with ample opportunities to do so.
The game I was most disappointed by was baseball. The edits made to make baseball more party friendly fail to create an engaging experience. The games are not a full nine innings, the hitting controls are not very realistic, and most of the movement (fielding, stealing bases) are not under the control of the player. Being an avid baseball fan, I would not recommend anything about this mode excluding the home run derby. And, even in that instance, I enjoyed the home run derby more in Wii Sports than I did in Kinect Sports: Season 2.
Regarding the other four modes, golf, darts, tennis, and skiing, I enjoyed the golf immensely and had some mediocre experiences with the rest. Golf has a mild learning curve at the beginning, but once I grasped how to position my player, it was like playing Mario Golf all over again. Darts was less fun, but I did enjoyed the party game “Pop Darts” for its simplicity. Tennis was an upgrade from Wii Sports tennis, but not so much to write home about. And, while skiing gave a great sense of speed, it wound up being my least played game.
In Kinect Sports: Season 2, there are some distinct upgrades from the first game, but not enough to make this a system seller. I didn’t find anything in this game revolutionary; but, for a late night party game it should keep a group of adults or kids entertained. Plus, it’s a great showpiece for the future of voice control. However, eventually I can see it resting in the same pile of unplayed games alongside Wii Sports, Wii Play, and Rock Band.
CraveOnline received 1 advanced copy of Kinect Sports: Season 2 for the Xbox 360 from Microsoft. We were held to the embargo date of 10/24/2011. Before starting our review, we completed 70% of the game.