Posted by Jon Wahlgren
Just as generic as the name implies
Kinect is but a spry young thing and already its humble catalogue includes a notable amount of minigame collections. Between the pack-in Kinect Adventures and Rare's Kinect Sports, the case for another set is a rough one to make. Ubisoft's MotionSports is a competent enough package, but it's failure to really excel at anything makes it a tough sell.
MotionSports' offerings aren't particularly bad, and certainly its takes on soccer, football, skiing, boxing, hang gliding and the somewhat out-of-place horseback riding are enjoyable for a spell in the right company. It's all just kind of bland, despite the game's attempts at liveliness with its over-exuberant commentator and misguided stabs at being edgy.
Each sport has around a half-dozen events, with generally only one open from the start (boxing has two to allow multiplayer). Your performance is tracked very much in the vein of Wii Sports, increasing (or decreasing) your "fame" across play in each one, and performing well opens up new events and variants of the sport.
Soccer is probably the best of the bunch and focuses mostly on penalty kicks, and the initial mode is a shoot-out where you alternate between kicker and goaltender. As kicker, you bend down to place the ball on the pitch, take a step back and kick in the direction of where you want to shoot. Placing the ball is more than a glorified "press start" action and is instead a clever way of determining an anchor point as the game actually uses that spot for the ball's location (using a physical object like a coaster on the floor for reference is a big help). The tables turn as goalie: right after the striker kicks the game slows down for a second to give you enough time to figure out where to dive. It's quite fun and does the best job of the bunch at recreating the thrill of the real sport, although kick detection sometimes suffers in the subsequent events that require more precise shots, as subtle tweaks sometimes go unnoticed or entirely misread. By and large it works well, but when it doesn't it feels broken.
Boxing is quite simple, giving you three attacks (punch, hook, uppercut) and a block to duke it out with either the AI or a human opponent. The only detection issue we came across was when attempting uppercuts, but everything else seemed to work fine, if all together a bit basic. Football is largely a series of timing-based obstacle courses played in a variety of positions. Running plays are either through actual obstacle courses or with defenders coming at you, but in both cases you'll be jumping, ducking and side-stepping (and stiff-arming if facing defenders). Then there are throwing games that we didn't seem to be able to fail at, with the receiver magically running towards our passes.
Skiing is pretty much slalom racing and jumping, where you stand in place and lean back and forth to steer, hopping to soar off the slope. Hang gliding has you standing with your arms out like you're holding on to the bar and tilting them to steer through obstacle courses. Horseback riding is something of a thematic odd-one-out but is essentially another obstacle course-based game where you guide your horse around the track and over fences.
With the exception of soccer, nothing here really feels like a new experience; motion-based boxing has been on Wii since day one, even longer in arcades, and the rest are merely serviceable takes on minis done elsewhere. Not bad, just bland. The presentation doesn't do it any favours either: all of the graphics are very generic environments and people that, while far from sloppy or bad, do little to give the game any sort of character, or even stand out in any fashion. The music is boring, indistinct rock and the commentator is plain obnoxious, going a bit too far in his praise for every positive thing you do. Buddy, we know we're good, but we're not that good.
And this game will just not stop taking your photo. New players get three photos snapped upon first play for plastering all over the billboards on the results screen, and further photos are taken discreetly during play. All of these photos aren't necessarily a bad thing (a definite example of flaunting Kinect's abilities), but if you perform well during an event then you'll have to go through a newspaper/magazine cover photo shoot every time.
The whole thing gets tedious after a while and there isn't any way to disable it or tell the game to use one of the three photos it already has of you on file. More annoyingly, it slows down how quickly you can get back in to play, and since most of the games can be completed in under two minutes it feels like you spend more time waiting in menus and getting your picture taken than you are playing. It's also odd that with the amount of photos snapped the game still had trouble recognizing us whenever we started the game, insisting we were new or guests instead of registered players.
MotionSports is a game with six motion-based sports, graphics and sound. That may sound like a bland and uninspired description, but that's what you get with a bland and uninspired minigame collection. It's not a terrible package and certainly has enough enjoyment in it for a one-night stand, but it doesn't do anything particularly well to warrant much attention unless you're a die-hard penalty kick obsessive.