For a Kinect game to be fun, it has to respond properly to your actions. If you are flailing your hands in the air and there is no response--or even a delayed one--then chances are you won't play for long. Poor control is just one of the problems with Ubisoft's MotionSports Adrenaline, a collection of six "extreme" sporting activities. Unfortunately, these promising activities are rendered almost unplayable by unresponsive controls, limited options, and noticeable glitches.
MotionSports Adrenaline offers six intense sporting events: rock climbing, kayaking, kite surfing, mountain biking, skiing, and wingsuit skydiving. Each sport has the same race objective where you complete a given course in as little time as possible while collecting coin pieces that are scattered throughout the course. Though racing fast and collecting points are important, performing stunts and avoiding obstacles that come your way also contribute to your score.
The first problem with the game is that there is no easy way to learn how to perform the given actions for each sport. Outside of the basic visual aids that appear in the loading screen, there is no tutorial to show you the right or wrong way of approaching each action. In general, the controls are pretty basic: Shifting/tilting your body left or right will move your character on the screen in that direction, but sports that have you holding onto an object do not respond to your actions in a timely manner. In both mountain biking and kite surfing, you hold onto an object--the handles of either a kite or a bike--but to turn the handles, you have to shift your hands either left or right. In almost every race with these two particular sports, the motions required for turning left and right often register only intermittently or after a noticeable delay. On courses where a number of obstacles are in your way, the likelihood of hitting one is greater because the sensor won't recognize the actions in a timely manner.
To help you earn points to better your score, certain onscreen stunt markers appear. These typically direct you to throw your arms or legs in a particular direction and mimic the image on the screen. In most races, there is a noticeable delay, and any gesture that requires you to have one arm hover over your torso is almost never acknowledged. Rock climbing suffers from the weakest recognition, though. The objective here is simple: Climb to the top of a cliff while avoiding the various obstacles that come your way. The problem is that most motions require you to lift your arms above your head, pretend to grab something, and then bring your arms down to your chest. When done properly, your character should move up to the next available section of the mountain, but in most cases, the Kinect doesn't pick up the gesture, which just leads to further frustration.
There are three modes available. Quick Play lets you play either alone or with someone else. The more you play of a particular activity, the more courses and boosts for the game's cast of characters become available. Each sport has only two or three courses available, so it won't take long to unlock them all. If you are connected to Xbox Live, race challenges pop up periodically. In some cases, you need to reach a checkpoint in a certain amount of time or collect enough coins before reaching a checkpoint.
While it's nice to have these challenges, there is no clear indication as to when they start or finish; they just randomly appear. As you race, a notification will pop up saying that there is a challenge that you need to beat. At the same time, you issue challenges to other players, but you won't have any idea of what you have specifically issued. This leaves you guessing as to what some other player will have to accomplish.
While a second person can play with or against you in all races, having a number of friends around allows you to participate in the game's multiplayer mode. In Adrenaline Party, you and up to three friends play in 10 randomly chosen activities with the person or team with the highest score after 10 events being declared the winner. The mode itself is nice because it randomly selects the games that the groups take part in, but without a proper tutorial, those who play for the first time may not have much fun alongside those who are already accustomed to dealing with the irksome controls.
The final available mode is called You Against the World and has you competing against other online players. Unlike the challenges that pop up while racing in Quick Play mode, these offer event-specific requirements where you try to rack up a better score than other players. These challenges might have you finishing a course within a certain amount of time or collecting a specific number of coins, and they can only be unlocked by logging into Ubisoft's Uplay service and redeeming Ubipoints. It's an unnecessary obstacle that clearly exists only to ensure that you create a Uplay account if you don't have one already. It might also force you to quit out of the game entirely; upon leaving Uplay, you're greeted by a "Please stand in front of the sensor" message that obscures part of your screen and can only be removed by going back to the dashboard.
MotionSports Adrenaline is a mess. With so few extreme sports games currently on the market, this could have been a great opportunity for Ubisoft to lure in an audience eager to experience the exhilaration of skydiving from an airplane or climbing a mountain. Instead, this is a game that most people will begin to play, get frustrated with, and quickly turn off. Even after learning to cope with the game's shortcomings--of which there are many--trying to lure others to play along with you will be quite the challenge.