E3 2011: Kinect Sports: Season Two Preview Impressions

We get our first look at a couple of new sports in this motion-controlled sequel.

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Sports are a great way to showcase motion-control devices. When the Kinect debuted last fall, Kinect Sports was the most popular game for the camera. Developer Rare brought outdoor favorites, such as soccer and track racing into people's homes, and it did a good job of showing off the new peripheral's capabilities. A year later, Rare has teamed up with Big Park, but the tradition of being able to control sporting events with your entire body marches onward. Kinect Sports: Season Two will be released later this year.

Six sports are included this time (golf, skiing, darts, tennis, football, and baseball), though only football and golf were shown off today. Like last year, these games make full use of body tracking, but voice commands now work as well.

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Voice commands were shown off in golf first. The on-stage demonstrator said, "Change club, pitching wedge, ready" and her onscreen avatar responded in kind. There are some clever motions also included. For instance, when you put your hand to your forehead like a military salute, you get a fly-by shot of the entire hole. Other than that, things played out as you might expect. You swing your arms like you're holding a golf club, and it seems as if the actions translate well in game.

The other event demonstrated was football. This paired two players together; one assumed the role of quarterback while the other was a receiver. Voice commands allow you to call plays just by shouting out what you want to do. The person playing QB shouted out "Slant 25," and the players lined up to run the play.

Everything was running smoothly at this point, but things got a little crazy afterward. Once we snapped the ball (again, by yelling out a specific phrase), the person playing QB dropped back like a professional tosser. He moved his legs to get a better stance and swayed his body as if he were looking for a receiver, but his avatar didn't mimic these moves all. Rather, his digital representation stood stock still and got sacked by a defender.

The second play ("Streak") went very much the same. The person playing QB moved around like he was in the NFL, but the avatar stood still. It's unclear at this point if the game will eventually mirror your movements or not, but it was strange seeing the demonstrator move around so much without any reaction in game. Eventually, he tossed the ball by exhibiting the corresponding motion, though the ball wasn't released until well after he completed his movement. It's uncertain if such a noticeable delay was the result of technical problems or not, but it was a shaky showing for the debut.

Stay tuned for more information on this upcoming game. Check out our live show on Thursday to see Kinect Sports: Season Two for yourself.

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