Review: Kinect Joy Ride

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Let’s face it – most of us bought our Kinect units to have different game play experiences. Dance Central and even Kinect Adventures are titles we’ve all played to death. I’ll admit was pleasantly surprised when I eventually got around to Kinect Sports and found out it wasn’t just a Wii Sports knock-off. Did I have the same experience with Kinect Joy Ride, the new motion-controlled kart racer from BigPark and Microsoft Game Studios? Read on to find out!

The hot: It’s fun enough as a Kinect launch title. You get avatar support in-built, and there are enough game modes to keep things interesting. Pro Race, Battle Race, and Xbox Live Racing are fairly stock standard, Mario Kart-esque modes. You control your car in these race types by holding your arms up as if you were holding a steering wheel, and turning that imaginary wheel to the left or right to steer. You can pull back to build up boost speed, and push forward to activate it. There are a couple jumps here and there that require you to lean left, right, forwards and backwards to flip your car about for style points.

The REAL fun comes with the stunt and style modes, Trick and Stunt. In Stunt, you’re placed in a huge half-pipe and your goal is simply to do cool things. Trick mode gets you to match poses for points, all the while Kinect takes pictures of you looking ridiculous – it’s super fun and also super embarrassing.

The meh: Most of this game sits as ‘meh’. The controls are okay, but it was hard to steer and activate boost at the same time. Or steer and use power-ups. Or steer without some attachment; the biggest thing my non-gamer friends commented on whilst playing this was that they wanted something to hold between their hands to simulate an actual steering wheel, ala Mario Kart Wii‘s wheel-remote.

Since you’re standing up and only controlling steering, the Xbox handles shifting and braking for you, which takes a huge element of fun (and control!) from the game. Imagine if you could sit, using your foot for acceleration and braking, and using a hand to shift imaginary gears. Awesome; Forza Motorsport 4, I’m looking at you.

The cold: Again, nothing’s that bad, it’s just…blah. You’ll get a kick out of Joy Ride initially, but very quickly, you just won’t care. It’s taken me so long to write this review because I just don’t have any real feelings about it.

The bottom line? Kinect Joy Ride is a poor Mario Kart clone that won’t hold your interest for long. For kids, this’ll work; for everyone else, a rental will do just fine. This game gets a solid average rating from me, and a huge desire to move on to bigger and better games. Next!