In many ways, Kinect Sports Season Two defies any reviews that anyone can give it. It is almost like eating a meal, then reviewing just the ingredients. Games like this are almost entirely going to come down to what you put into them. Kinect Sports Season Two offers the tools, but then it becomes what you make of it.
Having said that, the tools Kinect Sports Season Two offers are a bit on the slim side. It’s not the infomercial knife that can cut through a tin can, then still perfectly slice a tomato. A few technical limitations from the previous entry also return. At first, these can be written off as the Kinect being the Kinect, but other games have since come out with better motion tracking which makes the flaws in this game more apparent. Yet those can be overlooked as you and your friends play a game of tennis, silently mocking your competition for looking silly while hitting a backhand, totally oblivious to what you yourself must look like. It is the Kinect cycle of life.
This year’s outing offers six sports: football, baseball, darts, golf, tennis and skiing. Each are essentially mini-games, and with the exception of golf, each can be completed in a few minutes. Of course, they all offer a multiplayer, as well as a competitive online feature that allows you and a friend to challenge each other for the best scores.
The controls are generally fairly simple and easy to use, which makes the game a little underwhelming for more seasoned gamers, but just right for casual gamers, younger players and families of differing skill levels. This is a party game, so experiencing all six sports in around an hour by yourself isn’t that much of an issue. It’s designed for the party going crowd looking for something easy. Still, the lack of depth is an issue, and one that could have been simply solved with just a modicum of variety. There just isn’t much content, and while the mini-games all offer some fun with friends, there isn’t much reason to play them solo.
Each game has its own unique traits, but generally they all involve you moving in a certain direction, motioning at something, or reacting to something coming at you. The Kinect’s voice commands are also integrated into the game, so when you are playing football, for example, you can choose the play you want by saying it, then start the game by saying “Ready, hike.”
Each game is also a tightly compressed version of the sport it is representing. For example, football has you as either the quarterback or the receiver. You motion to throw in the direction of the receiver, then you run in place to sprint and dodge to sidestep. You have four chances to score, then the AI takes over. You see a representation of whether or not they score, then you head back on the field. Baseball has you pitch either a fastball or a curveball, fast or slow, then you take over as a pitcher for a two inning game in total. Tennis is just two shorts sets, and on.
Each of the sports has a “nerfed” feeling to them, as if any potential difficulty has been stripped out, but they will be good for kids. The biggest issue with the game is the imprecise feel that the game has. Throwing a football is easy, but dodging is a pain, and the running in place only reacts to you about half the time. The biggest victim of this is darts, which requires a level of precision that the Kinect just doesn’t offer. To win, you pretty much just have to get lucky.
The biggest issue with Kinect Sports season 2 is the lack of variety. It just isn’t all that great of a value, unless you are desperate for a Kinect game that can be played at a party, or maybe with younger kids. Even then, the content could easily have been sold as a DLC to go with the original, and that would have made for a solid purchase. But again, this game will be what people make of it. It is the tool for others to use to have fun. It just isn’t a particularly impressive tool.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
(This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360 on a copy provided by Microsoft Studios)