Deca Sports Freedom Review
Posted by Corbie Dillard
When sports compilations go bad
Sports compilations are quickly becoming a dime-a-dozen when it comes to showing off new motion-sensing technology. Rare's Kinect Sports did a nice job of showing off some of Kinect's impressive features, and now Hudson has decided to bring its oft-forgotten Deca Sports (known as Sports Island in Europe) series to Kinect along with a whole new collection of sports to go along with it. But do you really need another sports compilation?
When you first look at Deca Sports Freedom you can't help but get excited about the heaping helping of rather unique sporting events, many of which have never before been attempted with the Kinect accessory. Sadly this is also where the excitement turns to frustration as the entire package becomes infested with sloppy controls and a horrible menu system that makes playing the game feel more like a chore than a fun gaming session.
There are ten sports to choose from in the package: Tennis, Beach Volleyball, Archery, Kendo, Mogul Skiing, Figure Skating, Dodge Ball, Snowboard Cross, Paintball and Boxing. You'll also be able to tackle all of these sports in single or multiplayer fashion and take on opponents both locally and online. Of course you'd better reserve yourself to local opponents since locating an online opponent is like tracking down the Holy Grail.
The majority of the sporting events play out pretty much like you'd expect and try to keep the actual movements and controls as realistic as possible. Sadly, the control response on most of the events is so erratic and unresponsive you'll often wonder if you're even having much to do with the performance of your onscreen character. Some sports like Archery and Figure Skating keep things simple enough that the sluggish controls aren't given enough room to hamper the experience, whereas the majority of them try to squeeze in so many movement variations that the gameplay system just can't keep up with the event and turns into a complete mess of missed or inaccurately-executed actions.
To add insult to injury the menu system and player interface makes even getting into the game itself a challenge. Not only will you often find yourself guessing where your hand should be to select a particular menu, you'll also find yourself struggling to select the SKIP option in between almost every round of an event in order to bypass the seemingly endless barrage of cutscenes. Let's face it, when you can't even get the menu interface right, you know things have taken a turn for the worse.
One of the few highlights of the game comes in the visuals department. There are some really amazing areas and backdrops to behold in many of the various events, some showing a surprising level of detail. Of course the characters themselves tend to detract from them as their movements and animations tend to be unusually unrealistic at times, some bordering on being laughable. It doesn't help that the menu system is extremely bland as well and really clashes when placed up against some of the aforementioned backdrops strung throughout the game.
After the musical masterpiece of Kinect Sports, there really was nowhere to go but down, of course Deca Sports Freedom went the extra mile when it came to downgrading the musical score quality in the game. The majority of the audio tracks are every bit as forgettable as virtually every other aspect of the game, and the sound effects that are tossed into the mix don't do much to liven things up much.
Deca Sports Freedom attempts to bring a host of unique sports to Kinect, but manages to get just about everything wrong with the execution. Sure a couple of the sports are mildly enjoyable, but they're heavily overshadowed by the extremely erratic controls, not to mention a sloppy user interface that turns the experience into a lesson in futility rather than fun. While Kinect Sports was a great example of what can be done with the Kinect accessory, Deca Sports Freedom is just basically one example after another of what not to do with it.