The original Kinect Sports was a big hit on the 360, selling over a million copies and becoming one of the top three games that people purchased with the Kinect. It's no surprise, then, that Microsoft thought it would be a great idea to bring out a sequel, and this time, it feels like they went for some popular and ambitious games. When it releases, Kinect Sports: Season Two will have six different sports. While it would have been nice if they had let us try baseball, darts, skiing and tennis, the E3 demo had some pretty good sports choices for us to try: football and golf.
Football was the first sport we tried for Kinect Sports: Season Two, and you have the option of playing a co-op or solo game. Much like the sports in the previous package, all sports in this game abide by a less-than-strict rule set. In the case of football, it seems to have taken the rules from the Blitz series or Madden NFL Arcade. You have four downs to get to the end zone by any means necessary. If you're playing solo, you take the role of both quarterback and receiver, while a two-player game divvies up these roles.
The first thing we got to experience was the voice controls. We were told that just about every menu can be navigated via voice, and for our demo, we were able to read out the names of the plays to select them. The plays were split into three different types of yard gains, and while we didn't see too many running plays, we saw tons of passing plays. After selecting a play, setting up for the hike requires you to crouch down and then either stand up or yell hike to get the ball to your hands. From there, you can step to the side to direct where the ball will go, and you throw to chuck the ball. As the receiver, you automatically catch the ball. You simply have to concentrate on running in place to move forward and jumping to avoid tackles. You can also stiff-arm defenders, though the timing for that feels like it needs some improvement. It felt like the receiver was an auto-pilot if a good throw was made, especially if the coverage is light. A busy field will ensure that you'll have to work for every yard, but if the quarterback always throws to the correct spot, you won't face much trouble.
Golf feels a bit less technical than a standard Tiger Woods game, but that doesn't mean it's any less fun. Voice controls come into play here for selecting clubs and, initially, it seems to be the only way to determine how far you'll hit the ball. There may be a way to determine swing strength, but we weren't able to figure that out during our limited time with the game. Outside of basic swings and club selection, there are a few interesting things that can be done in this game. Placing your hand on your forehead as if you're trying to look at something distant will let you see your path to the hole, while squatting down close to the ground will let you do the same on the green. They're nice little touches that add some depth to something that remains relatively simple.
Sometimes simple is all you need in a sports game, and for what it's worth, Kinect Sports: Season Two does just that. It's a simplistic sports game that is tons of fun for those who know the basic rules and want to play something less complicated than a normal sports offering. With some pretty big sports involved in this package, don't be surprised if it becomes another hit for the system. We're hoping to have a chance to try out a few more sports before the game hits store shelves this fall.
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