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Kinect Joy Ride – Hands-On

19:2305/10/2010Posted by Chris MorellNo Comments

When discussing Kinect, it can be difficult to come up with the most appropriate description, bearing in mind its appeal will always vary between personal tastes and what each person wants from their gaming system. After standing before Microsoft’s motion-sensing hardware for the first time – more specifically for the arcade driving game, Kinect Joyride – we can at last do our best to relay our feelings on the machine and how you can expect the game to play on launch day should you decide to take those first tentative steps towards that much-touted ‘new way to play’. Although our time with it was brief, what we found was a fun, albeit slightly underwhelming experience.

As helpful as a PR rep might be as far as posture is concerned, nothing can stop the nervous feeling of stepping in front of Kinect before a large audience knowing from previous footage just how utterly ridiculous you’re about to look. As with anything particularly new, our first few moments were spent fumbling about trying to work out the sensitivity of the system itself, flailing our arms and leaning from left to right in an attempt to get into the swing of things as quickly as possible. Thankfully, it didn’t take long at all to acclimatise– and while you’ll never shake that feeling that you look ridiculous to those around, it shouldn’t matter too much when you’re hopping about in the comfort of your own home.

Placing your hands at a ‘ten and two’ position, the game is controlled entirely by the movements of your upper body. Pulling your fists to your chest causes boost power to build up at the bottom of the screen, which is then released by a quick punch forward with both hands. A bending movement followed by a stand provides your vehicle with a few simple spins and flips, if indeed we were doing it correctly, but the game appeared to be forgiving enough for our inexperience not to be a problem. The controls are simple yet effective, likely representative of what Kinect will have to offer through its initial holiday line-up.

The handling itself is at first jarring, with the first lap coming across as something akin to Bambi’s famous slip on the ice. Eventually, a sort of rhythm begins to set in; with the body movements required for the turnings, as well as the charging and subsequent boost triggers coming together to form a workable whole. That said, fans of serious racers should take note; that deep and rewarding driving game for Kinect may be coming, but Joyride certainly isn’t it, displaying a focus on arcade family fun instead of anything racing pros can happily get lost in. It’s intended to be a good laugh and that’s exactly how it seems, even if our fears regarding the game’s replayability and long-term appeal still stand.

Sporting a bright colour scheme and contrasting palette, Joyride is anything but an ugly game. The overall look is a simple one, preferring an unassuming and family-centric style to anything remotely realistic – it’s all heavily reminiscent of the Wii’s back-catalogue, which may have the unfortunate side effect of alienating members of the Xbox 360’s key install base. The game is pleasant to look at and inoffensive in every way, something that serves to highlight that fact Microsoft’s intentions towards Kinect and the hardcore audience are still unclear at this current point in time, regardless of the inordinate amounts of PR fluff being pelted our way.

Some may argue that Microsoft’s Kinect lacks the precision of the Playstation Move and from what we’ve seen and played that statement is not entirely without merit. What games like Joyride represent is a step in a very interesting direction; driving with the movements of your hands is an idea that will appeal to many racing aficionados, but the technology still has a long way to go before it becomes truly revolutionary. We’re not saying that Kinect is incapable of influencing the industry in such a way – we’re just saying that the true leap forward won’t come with Kinect Joyride, and if we’re completely honest, the fact that this wasn’t bundled with a handful of other simplistic games is downright perplexing. Fun, simple yet still very much a matter of taste, watch out for Kinect Joyride on store shelves this November.

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