While recently reviewing Kinect Sports Season Two, I found myself tiring on the comic-like Avatar/Mii style graphics and craving something a little more realistic. Enter Motionsports Adrenaline from Ubisoft. Not only does it offer a suite of “extreme” sports, Motionsports Adrenaline comes with a more realistic look and presentation, so it captured my attention right off the bat. But does Adrenaline have the gameplay to match its promise?
The Kinect is pretty new in our house. In fact it is the last of the motion control technologies that we adopted so I’m really just coming to grips with what it can do and how different games are using the technology. After playing a few of the Kinect games that have a more family oriented presentation I really like the angle Motionsports Adrenaline brings to the motion control genre. Not that I don’t mind the other games. I was really looking forward to seeing a more realistic presentation in a motion controlled game. I also had the help of my nine year old nephew for this review. His first impression? Extreme coolness; however, after the newness wore off he really cooled on things.
To its credit, Adrenaline brings several interesting events to the table including Kite Boarding, Wingsuit, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Skiing and Rock Climbing. With the exception of Rock Climbing each of the events involve getting from point A to point B. Whether you’re jumping out of a helicopter, kayaking down a river or mountain biking down a hillside, everything is very on-the-rails and it all sort of blends together. While you have control of your character in each event it is limited. For example, there are defined paths during the mountain biking events. Your side to side motions really only change lanes. You just never feel like you have complete control over your character. Wingsuit is a perfect example of this as the path down the mountainside is pretty fixed. There are points where the path branches and you have to make a decision which path to take but a lot of the time you are following a fixed path and simply steering to pick up tokens.
Furthermore the controls are a little repetitive from event to event for my liking. I can understand that they’re relatively simple as a simpler learning curve appeals to a broader audience. My issue? They’re just not responsive enough. I couldn’t for the life of me get the game to recognize me squatting. This was extremely frustrating because squatting is a control in several of the events. That’s not just it though as there’s just enough lag between your motion and that of your character on screen to make some of the events frustrating. Actually being able to do a submarine roll at the right time during Kayaking was near impossible for me. Trying to paddle to gain speed, steer to stay on course and duck to avoid fallen ruins blocking my watery path had me flailing around in a mad panic rather than making me feel immersed in what I was actually doing on screen. It might be just a bit too much going on at any one time too but the slight lag drove me mad.
What Adrenaline does well is offer a good number of ways to play each event type. First of all, there are several “courses” in each event and these unlock pretty quick. Each event score you receive goes towards a master token total. As you level this master total up there are plenty unlockables. This might include new types of gear that can give you a little more speed or control. Beware though, every new unlock brings with it a higher point threshold to achieve the next unlock.
There are also several event types. Each event typically has a couple solo modes and a couple more multiplayer modes. These might simply be time trials or something more elaborate like trick events or events geared towards collecting the highest number of tokens you can. There are also several cooperative options for playing with friends and party play. The Kinect needs a lot of room as it is and you’re going to need every bit of it playing this one with friends. Good thing my nephew’s a lot smaller than I am!
While I was really looking forward to Adrenaline’s more realistic look I came away disappointed with the graphics. Ubisoft games usually look top notch and Adrenaline doesn’t look bad. The graphics are functional and look fine, but it really doesn’t do all that much to impress. The first time you jump out of the helicopter during the Wingsuit events it is pretty cool as there’s a neat sense of scale and that feeling that you are pretty high up there. The framerate is pretty solid at 30fps so everything moves smoothly. The rest of the visuals just sort of underwhelms. The water doesn’t look nearly as good as a game like Kinect Adventures. The environments are decently populated, and they look okay but not great. I also noted that from snowy alpine vistas to jungle rivers the environments are nicely varied from event to event. Overall the visuals get the job done, and that is what counts.
It seems like any game centred around extreme sports needs to come with a driving, alternative rock sound track. Adrenaline isn’t that much different; however, there really aren’t a lot of songs. You’ll hear the same track over and over again and this left me wanting more diversity. The rest of the in-game sound does nothing to impress but it doesn’t hurt itself either. In the end let’s just call it functional.
While it includes some unique and interesting event types, Motionsports Adrenaline doesn’t really hit its full potential. Many of the events blur together thanks to similar controls after repeated plays. That being said it does offer a good number of both solo and multiplayer modes though. This might be a good rental for a night with friends or family but to recommend this one as a full out purchase is another story.