MotionSports Adrenaline ReviewMatt Andrews
The world of extreme sports has been delivering adrenaline rushes and fractured appendages throughout human existence. Ubisoft Motionsports Adrenaline has set out to create an exciting take on the most exhilarating activities of the great outdoors, allowing gamers to kite surf, rock climb, wingsuit skydive, mountain bike, ski, and kayak from the safety of their own homes.
The game makes some great first impressions. The product itself screams professionalism with nice cover artwork and thorough manual included. The name Ubisoft encourages high expectations, and even the opening cut scene has an air of excitement to it. The first bright spot in Motionsports Adrenaline is a smooth, simple system of menus using only the Kinect. To consumers' dismay, this is mostly because the game is so shallow itself. Each of Motionsports Adrenaline's six sports offers at most two different game modes, only one of which offers a multiplayer option. The different modes of play fail to make up in creativity what they lack in variety. You'll be asked to race through a course as quickly as possible in a typical time trial, or collect coins and score points in the freestyle option. Disappointingly, these options remain unchanged through the very different sports offered. Nevertheless, once you choose from one of the five stock characters to play with, it's very easy to get right into the action.
In a very short amount of time, it becomes inherently clear that the core gameplay in Motionsports Adrenaline is lacking. Players will be asked to navigate rivers, mountains, and trails that offer few options. Your decisions will be limited to very obviously marked shortcuts, and the choice between a series of jumps or rails. The smooth function of the menu was promising perhaps Ubisoft has captured the full potential of the Kinect to create a truly entertaining game. Let's not kid ourselves, they haven't come close. The motions devised to control your character lack creativity and require little to no coordination. Steering in all games requires you to simply lean with your body or only your outstretched hands. Other controls include crouching to avoid hazards in your wingsuit, and pumping your arms to paddle your kayak or accelerate your skier. The game seems to struggle with proportional control as well. It's near impossible to make minor adjustments to your character's direction or speed, and attempts to use a larger, very quick motion reveal the game's unresponsiveness. This is in part due to the nature of the Kinect, but when you're lucky enough to get a speed boost enjoy it while you can, because the unresponsiveness will cause you to lose it prematurely courtesy of a poorly placed tree or upcoming curve in almost all cases.
Players have the option to perform tricks in many of the sports. In order earn the points, the player must strike a pose required by a trick icon. That's correct, the game not only dictates when you can perform moves, but also which moves you'll be performing. Continuing with its lack of depth, you can count the total number of moves on one hand, and the poses remain the same whether you're kite surfing or mountain biking. The game contains an online and offline record book and challenges, allowing players to compete locally against their friends, or via Xbox Live against a world of other gamers. Regardless of who you choose to play with or what mode of play you select, the core gameplay remains the same: uninteresting and clunky. Nearly no freedom is allowed to the player and coupled with the lack of variety and depth, the game falls short in general gameplay.
Visually, Motionsports Adrenaline is on par with other Kinect titles. Screenshots won't wow anyone, and environments, though generic, are visually stimulating and appealing. However, the game once again fails to provide any depth at all, offering just three environments per sport, many of which resemble locations from other sports. Players will be rewarded with "gear" for one of the five stock characters they'll be able to use. I mention the reward system here because any unlockables are purely visual, with no effect on gameplay. Compounding the disappointment, unlocking new gear with one character unlocks that gear for all characters, disseminating any replay value. Beyond providing no change to the gameplay experience, the actual gear that the character is wearing never changes in shape or form either, only color! When the final upgrade for each sport was unlocked only to find that a Degree deodorant logo was slapped across the character's chest, the game went from disappointing to borderline insulting to the consumer.
It's hard to look past the many and severe flaws of Ubisoft's Motionsports Adrenaline, but let's quickly recap the redeeming qualities of the game. It's easy to play, so young children may enjoy it. Additionally, if you turn up the air conditioning just a bit, you can use your Kinect without breaking a sweat. That's about where the pros end. On the other hand, unless you enjoy absolutely shameless advertising, or you want to beat every level on the first attempt for a confidence booster, this game should be avoided at all costs. When you consider that the game can be completed in about five hours and the gameplay isn't enjoyable enough to deserve that much of your time, there's just no upside to Motionsports Adrenaline.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.