E3 2011 Kinect Sports Season 2 Hands-On Preview

By Shawn Collier on June 25, 2011, 8:30PM EDT

Kinect Sports, Microsoft's Kinect response to Nintendo's hugely successful Wii Sports franchise, was one of the add-on's best selling titles. So its not unexpected that Microsoft is readying up the game's sequel, aptly named Kinect Sports Season 2, for release later in the year. During E3 2011 we got the chance to check out the new golf and football modes available in the game and from what we can see Microsoft and developer Rare have put together an enjoyable package for fans of the original.

E3 2011 Kinect Sports Season 2 Hands-On Preview (2)

The new football mode, which was first shown off during Microsoft's pre-E3 press conference, allows either one or two people to play. When two players are included, Season 2 allows one player to assume the role of the quarterback while the other performs the actions of the receiver. Picking a play is done by either hovering over the play or using your voice. Once the players are in position the ball is snapped via a custom voice phrase command and the ball is thrown as you would normally. There was a slight issue where the throwing of the ball lagged until after the motion was fully completed instead of following the tracking of the user, although this issue will likely be rectified before the game is finished. The other play, once they receive the ball, can move their body as they normally would as they attempt to run down to the opposite end of the field to score a touchdown. Once again here the motions seem to be delayed till after the entirety of the motion is completed. While not present in our demo, Rare did state they they are working to add voice commands to actions such as picking which player you wish to throw the ball to, among other actions.

E3 2011 Kinect Sports Season 2 Hands-On Preview

The golf section of the demo, thankfully, fares much better in comparison. After landing on the green, players can raise their hand to their forehead like a visor to trigger the game's camera to zero in across the course to find the hole, which is marked by a flag icon on the screen. Utilizing Kinect's motion tracking capabilities, Season 2 can analyze which direction you are facing and utilize that to determine which way to aim the ball. Since most players will be new to the motion controls, Season 2 lets player test out a few practice swings by raising their hand above their head to signal the game and switch back to real swings by straightening their body like a normal golfer would. One impressive ability present in the demo was Kinect's ability to determine how hard the player is swinging, which we found to have extremely realistic accuracy. Season 2 also supports switching between clubs by calling out its name.

One noticeable omission in the demo was the inability to perform advanced techniques such as putting spin on the ball, although Rare did state that such features were being looked into. As for online multiplayer, they were able to reveal that the Golf section of the game will support multiplayer by sharing your high scores with your friends on Xbox Live. As for the original games found in the first Kinect Sports, Microsoft hasn't yet announced if they will be available in their original forms or upgraded in some way in Season 2.

Kinect Sports: Season 2 will be released on the Xbox 360 for Kinect on October 25.

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