It was inevitable that after the Kinect peripheral was announced that a barrage of 'average' games were going to be created simply to try and milk the cash cow that the Kinect peripheral has created. Hudson's Sports Island Freedom is unfortunately one of those titles that almost every games reviewer doesn't want to review but has to. Don't skip to the review score yet though as I need to tell you why the game is so bad and should be avoided at all costs.
It doesn't start bad for Sports Island Freedom as there's an impressive ten games to choose from including Paintball, Kendo, Archery, and Tennis. I'm afraid that's where the good points of this game end. Straight away the game becomes frustrating and broken with the Kinect sensor struggling to pick up my arm movements. For some reason rather than just showing a graphic of my chosen hand to move over the screen and select what I want to do, Sports Island freedom shows two hands, left and right, which not only confuses things, I think it confuses the game as when I hover over a target, it doesn't pick it up and resets. This is frustrating and a bad start to a game that I thought I would enjoy.
When you think things couldn't get any more frustrating and depressing, you make it to the menu where you have to negotiate your way through a couple of hundred options to make it to any game. Granted there's a lot you can do, but with the Kinect technology available it would have been nice for Hudson to actually use it. Single player is where you'll spend the majority of your time as this is where you can pick and choose which of the ten games you want to play, without having to have a friend endure the torture of playing.
One of the games that I was excited to see was paintballing as I'd imagined that if this was good, we'd see similar technology in the future for games like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor. For the sake of everyone's sanity I hope Activision and EA stay away from Hudson’s approach. The paintball works with two teams starting either side of a square room with boxes dotted around randomly. Players move by stepping forward or backwards and move by holding you arm up in the air. To shoot players just make sure they are on your screen and the auto target is very generous. Simply raise your arm to shoot a paintball bullet that will splatter in your opponent's face. Sounds fun but just isn't and doesn't seem to work.
Tennis and Volleyball follow a similar suit with the players being very unresponsive, sluggish and generally giving you the feeling that you've been punished for doing something bad. Kendo is very bizarre as it seems to be whoever swings their arms around fastest wins. The Archery was actually okay but only because it's much better than any other offering. Pulling back an imaginary arrow and having to compensate for the wind makes it interesting but by this time the game has frustrated you so much you just want to play something else.
Using the word lightly the 'best' multiplayer game mode is the boxing as both players frantically throw as many punches as possible. I’m not saying it's good, but for the twenty seconds you’re pummelling the air trying to beat my friend it is a good laugh. It's just a shame that the hardest part is trying to find a friend who will endure such torture. That torture is more evident when you attempt to play online as everyone is obviously choosing to watch paint dry as to be honest, that's probably less depressing and more fun.
Visually the game looks similar to Wii Sports but worse. It's as if Hudson has been challenged to make a game within 72 hours and I’d be very surprised if Hudson thought they've done a good job. It's also very disappointing that you can't use your avatar in game and throughout your experience you will constantly have to get Kinect to re-recognise your profile, unless you stay in front of the sensor at all times. That means no toilet or food breaks.
Overall Sports Island Freedom is probably the worst game I've ever had to review. The best advice I can give you is don't purchase this game and instead purchase Kinect Sports or Motion Sports, either or will be a thousand times better and much more fun. The game is so frustrating with poor game physics, terrible use of the Kinect technology and overall lack of spit and polish. So, Sports Island Freedom anyone?
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