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Kinect Sports: Season 2 preview: Swing and a pass


Microsoft announced the inevitable sequel to Kinect Sports during its press event at E3 this year. Kinect Sports: Season 2 features a slate of new sports, including tennis, darts, skiing and, American football and golf. I was able to try out the latter two games. One of the two didn't seem to have much substance, and the other one was golf.

Gallery: Kinect Sports: Season 2 (6/12/11) | 13 Photos

The first game I tried was football. Jumping into the two-player mode, I took up the role of receiver, while a fellow journalist played the (much more interesting) quarterback. As quarterback, players select a play, each with varying chances of success. I only witnessed passing plays and saw an option for a field goal attempt. If there are running plays, I didn't actually see one performed.

Once a play is selected, the virtual players gather on the line of scrimmage. To start the game, the person playing quarterback simply says "hike" and the ball is snapped. At this point, the play is essentially automated, with receivers running to their assigned locations. With an arm raised to throw the ball, the quarterback simply turns his body to select a receiver and then performs a throwing motion to toss the ball.

Which means it was finally my turn to participate. It didn't seem like I really had to do anything to actually catch the ball, my digital counterpart did that for me. Once the ball is caught, however, I had to run in place in order to send the receiver down the field as fast as possible. I was told that I needed to jump to avoid being tackled, though the advice came a little too late. On the next down, we opted for a simple touchdown pass. Again, the play was selected, the QB yelled "hike!" and the play was set in motion.

Something must have distracted me because, before I knew it, my Avatar had already caught the ball inside the end zone and scored a touchdown. I had done nothing to facilitate it, literally just stood there. I would imagine playing the role of quarterback is a little more exciting -- it certainly looked like it -- but my overall experience as a receiver was underwhelming. Golf, thankfully, livened things up quite a bit.

With my Avatar standing at the tee, it was time to take a quick practice swing. First, I observed the course. By raising my left hand to my face -- as though shielding my eyes from the sun -- the camera flew over the course, past an imposing body of water and settled on the green. By raising my right hand high, I initiated practice mode. To adjust the aim of my swing, I walked left or right, parallel to the television. The camera adjusted as I walked, producing a slight augmented reality effect.

Angle chosen, I took a swing and was presented with the predicted arc of my shot. Landing slightly to the right of the cup, I made some adjustments and prepared to take a real shot. Alas, I failed to make a hole-in-one, and my follow-up putt stopped just short of the cup, forcing me to take a shameful par.

Swinging felt natural enough, though I did miss the feeling of actually holding something in my hands. It was also difficult to judge the power of each swing, though that may be dictated entirely by club selection. Still, as a simple party game, it was more than adequate and the Kinect controls were well implemented. At the very least, golf was definitely the more enjoyable of the two sports on display.

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