X13 Preview – Kinect Sports Rivals

Kinect Sports was a game that many thought was a direct rip-off of Wii Sports. And they were sort of right.

Kinect Sports Rivals, however, shows just how much ingenuity developer Rare has in the tank, and just what they plan to do with the franchise.

If the title wasn’t obvious enough, you won’t be using the controller for this one, as this is Microsoft’s all-new Kinect sensor. And there are some wicked awesome things you can do with it.

Game world aside (it looks beautiful, by the way), when you want to start a jet-ski race, for example, all you need to do is put your arm up, much like you might do in real life to signal you’re ready to go! Spinning around requires slight body motion and turning left and right is very subtle but effective, not requiring large sweeping motions at all. This is how Microsoft proves just how precise Kinect for Xbox One is.

There are also amazing voice commands you can use, and while they’re also possible on the existing Kinect, there’s an all new mechanic in play for Xbox One’s sensor that makes co-op gaming awesome, and it’s called beam forming. This is the same technology that some new wireless routers use, and what it does is sense where the source of wi-fi (or in this case, voice commands) are coming from so that it can tell who said what. If you’re playing a two-player game in Kinect Sports Rivals, you can yell out “speed boost” and have the system know who it was that said it based on where the voice came from. It also happens to read your lips and make sure it’s getting it right.

If that’s not cool, we don’t know what is.

Actually, that’s not the only trick Rare has up its sleeve. When you first start up the game, it will ask to do a full body and facial scan so that it can create your “inner athlete” as the character you’ll play (that’s just a way of saying no matter your body type, it’ll basically show you how you’d look after 90 days of P90X). This is super cool, and while we didn’t try it out in person, every demo we’ve seen of it online has worked amazingly well.

In all, variety is the name of the game here. You can activate speed boosts and other power-ups with voice or motion commands, giving you a choice for how you want to play the game. There are six games in all, including some more mainstream sports like tennis and soccer, but also some awesomely odd ones like rock climbing and target shooting.

In all, there’s only one real thing to say: Kinect Sports Rivals is a game you should have on day one on Xbox One. If you’ve got a young family, or a bunch of friends, or just want to have something to play that might be a little less serious than Ryse or Dead Rising 3, this is your game.

The only problem with that, see, is that the game won’t be out until 2014.