There’s a reason I don’t play sports-themed games, and that’s because I’m almost as bad at the video as I am with the real sport. But I can take some comfort this time around as the game in question is the illogical and deeply flawed Sports Island Freedom for the Xbox Kinect. Don’t let the game’s title fool you – there’s certainly not a lot of freedom to be had while playing this game.
While Kinect Sports gave players a rather enjoyable sporting experience over a variety of activities, Sports Island Freedom seems to have gone into overdrive, and has packed in ten different activities for you to try and play. They are volleyball, skiing, tennis, archery, boxing, snowboarding, paintball, figure skating, kendo, and dodgeball. You may think you’re getting a great deal on this game because it includes so many games, but sadly none of them actually perform well, so it would have been better if the game only included a few activities that actually worked well.
The fundamental and glaring flaw in all of the games is just how much lag there is. While Kinect is supposed to translate your movements fluidly in-game, there is often a one or two second delay before your on-screen character registers that you’ve moved your arms or moved around. Take tennis for example – a fairly straightforward experience that only involves you hitting the ball back and forth. Even this simple task seems out of scope, as your character will frequently miss on return serves no matter how much you change your posture or angle of swing. Dodgeball is another amusing failure, with the game being unavailable to differentiate between when you want to catch the ball and when you want to throw it. Volleyball is a similar disaster, and boxing just turns into a flurry of punches that never land on your opponent.
Then of course there are the games that are just plain ridiculous that I just have to mention. My top three ‘what were you thinking’ games are kendo, archery, and figure skating. Yes, you read that last one correctly – figure skating. Your character skates around an ice rink while you hold particular poses, including one where you lean forward in a Titanic-eque fashion. Not only does this get boring quickly, it looks completely idiotic, and the buggy recognition doesn’t always register your postures. The kendo is another joke, as you frantically wave around trying to beat the crap out of your opponent. I found my experience to be slightly better when I held an actual broom handle, so you might want to try that as well. Archery is another joke, where you raise one arm to aim, and wave the other one behind you to shoot – accuracy of course is completely optional here. On top of everything, Sports Island has far too many instructions per game. You’re presented with a screen of gestures during each loading screen, and memorizing each one is certainly not going to be fun. The menus are also a clutter of options and buttons, and there doesn’t seem to be a proper on-screen cursor half the time.
Sports Island Freedom could have been a good game if the developers didn’t cram in so many activities, resulting in ten games that are all plagued by similar problems. If you’re looking for a fun sports game for your Kinect, then stick with Kinect Sports and give this game a swift miss.