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Review: Kinect Adventures - Xbox 360

by Steven Williamson on 2 December 2010, 17:15 3.6

Tags: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Children's

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Explore the world by leaping about in front of your telly.

The Xbox 360 is about to enter a new era of social and party gaming. Though Microsoft says that Kinect will also cater for hardcore gamers over the next few years, the hands-free experience is largely aimed at families, as well as people who are new to gaming and casual gamers that aren’t daunted by a bit of physical exertion. If you’re a gamer of old-skool morales though, who’s only form of exercise is twiddling your fingers and thumbs on a daily basis, then Kinect probably isn't for you, not just yet anyway.

The fact that Kinect Adventures comes bundled together with the sensor is a dead giveaway of what to expect. In the same way that Nintendo used Wii Sports as a demonstration of the technology and a glimpse of what the potential of motion-sensing gameplay, Microsoft uses Kinect Adventures to give you a sample of how full body motion-control does actively encourage you to immerse yourself totally in the game. We never expected Kinect Adventures to be a great game, and we were right, but it has left us feeling quite excited about the future of Kinect and intrigued as to how it will evolve.

Kinect Adventures is woefully short on content, offering just five mini-games to play over a selection of difficulties. Nevertheless, they do provide some entertaining moments and a few giggles as you prance around the room frantically to carry out some of the fast-paced objectives from plugging up leaky holes to navigating a raft through turbulent waters. Providing you have the space in your room (approximately 8ft) you can share the fun and ridicule together in two player co-op mode. If you have less space than that, sadly you'll have to play solo or one at a time, but you can still enjoy the multiplayer experience online.

In Adventure Mode, you simply work your way through the mini-games in strict order, earning medals along the way. The first game that you'll face is RallyBall, which is similar in premise to Atari's classic arcade game, Breakout, albeit with a hands-free twist. You stand in front of the T.V. and can see your Xbox 360 avatar on screen.You have to use your whole body to prevent balls from getting past you. Right in front of you is a brick wall that you have to smash, so you must reach out with a hand or foot, or even your head, to send the balls hurtling back toward the wall to break through. Smash down all the bricks and you progress to the next stage.

The mini-games are quite short, about 3 minutes in length, and consist of three stages that grow in difficulty. Though the action is over quite quickly, things do get more intense and challenging as you progress. As our first ever Kinect experience outside of the dashboard, it's a very impressive start. Whatever movements you do in your gaming space, play out exactly on screen - every tilt of the head, shake of the arm, or wiggle of the foot. Considering you're holding nothing in your hand, it does feel incredibly natural to reach out and smack the ball back toward the wall.

The next game, 20,000 Leaks, takes things a stage further. Here, you’re enclosed in a glass cage under the sea and a variety of creatures smash holes in the glass. You have to plug the holes up with your hands and feet to stop the glass from completely smashing. As you hit the second and third stages, you’ll find yourself frantically moving around the room trying to cope with plugging up three or four different holes at once. The premise is extremely simple, and if you were playing this game just with a controller you'd be very disappointed, but it showcases Kinect brilliantly. You really get a feel for how Kinect maps the 3D space in your room and it doesn't take long before you're moving around your own environment comfortably and intuitively plugging these leaking holes