Here are the basics: Sports Island Freedom is a Kinect game for the Xbox 360 in a similar vein to Kinect Sports, except it cannot hope to ever come close to that which it tries to compete against. Once again a complete lack of accurate motion tracking shafts this game something chronic. The extent as to how bad the Kinect implementation is extends through to the game’s menu system, which is so frustratingly verbose and cumbersome that you’ll be tempted to give up before you’ve even navigated your way to a sporting event.
There are ten events to choose from, most of which are available in Kinect Sports, only they actually work in that game. You can choose between: Beach Volleyball, which is unresponsive and as such difficult to win; Tennis, which is severely hampered by poor tracking (good luck serving); Archery, in which you will be unable to fire arrows without messing up your aim; Mogul Skiing, which is fundamentally broken; Boxing, which is repetitive and has very few moves that work; Snowboarding but rather – and I can’t believe I’m suggesting this – play Crossboard 7; Paintball is so terrible I nearly gave up gaming for good; Figure Skating is an on-rails event where you repeat the same moves to the same music over and over; Kendo, which is so basic a Vervet monkey could ace it; and Dodgeball, which totally needs more Ben Stiller. I know what you’re thinking: surely out of ten events, at least a few of them are enjoyable? No; they’re all pretty much hindered by appalling motion tracking or a difficulty curve so low it feels as if the game is playing itself.
Do you really need me to go on? Yes? Alright, let’s look take a closer look at one or two of the events.
Paintball is an atrocity to the hobby of gaming. When I looked at the cover of the box and saw that a Paintball event was included in the game, I immediately started to wonder how they would pull that off using just Kinect. I now realise that that thought was a completely moot point because the game does not pull off paintball at all. The event switches to a first-person view and dumps you into an arena full of obstacles for cover; you and your AI (misnomer of note) team mates have to shoot the hell out of the opposing team in either a Last Man Standing or Capture the Flag event. Last Man Standing makes no sense because everybody keeps respawning after being shot; somebody who designs real FPS games please explain to Hudson how Last Man Standing actually works.
To strafe left and right you literally take a step to the left or the right. Want to move forward? Then take a step forward. You move you crosshair around by holding your arm out straight in front of you and moving it in the direction you want to aim. To fire your gun you’re supposed to somehow extend your arm even further (remember, it’s already straightened so that you can aim properly) once you’ve locked onto an enemy. The only person who could hope to do this would be Reed Richards.
What about Mogul Skiing? Well, initially I had no idea what that event actually was so if anything at least this game has expanded my general knowledge. You have to navigate over some humps of snow before hitting a ramp, which you then use to get airborne to pull off some tricks and flips. This event, as previously insinuated, is completely broken. Navigating the humps of snow is relatively easy, but actually pulling off any tricks during your jump is nigh impossible. The game takes its time to explain exactly what body movements it requires in order to get you to do spins, grabs, flips etc. None of them work. Not a single one. The only time I managed to pull off a move was after what must have been my thirtieth attempt: I hit the ramp, twisted my upper body trying to do a 360, failed as per usual and then got so irate that I threw my hands up in disgust, flipping off the screen. That, however, seemed to work because my character suddenly responded and did a ski-crossing pose, landing it quite comfortably. Retrying the same thing afterwards did not yield the same result.
In closing, if you are looking for a sporty title for your shiny new Kinect peripheral then avoid this offering from Hudson Soft; Kinect Sports is a much safer offer. Sports Island Freedom is hailed as Hudson’s debut use of Kinect’s technology – it shows because the developer fails to implement effective motion tracking in the game. The result is a title that feels rushed, unpolished and an attempt to cash-in on early Kinect adopters’ willingness to pick up anything for their new toy. Hudson Soft has since been closed down by publisher Konami. Coincidence? Perhaps, but that’s probably wishful thinking.
About 90% of the events simply do not work properly. Those that do are extremely limited in actual player input, which is probably why they work in the first place.
Cheap and cheerful is the design motto here. The game is nice and colourful but the animation is embarrassing and the menu system will make you want to introduce a fork to a toaster.
Stock-standard sporty music similar to that which you’ll find in Wii Sports, except not as unobtrusive. The music in certain events (Kendo and Figure Skating in particular) will drive you nuts.
The reason you’ll play this game for more than a few hours is because about 75% of that time will be spent fumbling about the menu system.
Overall: 3/10 (not an average)
Utter rubbish. If you buy this game then I’d advise you not to procreate; the world has enough stupid already – thanks.
Last Updated: February 10, 2011