November 2, 2011

Bring the Danger Home

Lasting First Impressions of Motion Sports Adrenaline from Ubisoft

MSAD007_X360_Pack_Render_2DFollowing up 2010’s poorly received Kinect Launch title, Motion Sports, Ubisoft aims to take us to the air, the mountaintop, and the water to bring us a taste of the extreme sports in Motion Sports Adrenaline.  This time around, Ubisoft is looking to capture the thrills and amazement of such dangerous sports as Wingsuit Diving, Kitesurfing, Rock Climbing, Mountain Biking, Kayaking and Skiing without the risk of personal injury.  Sounds exciting.

I recently had a friend over and I was showing off some of the latest game releases, including the wonderful Rocksmith and, knowing he was intrigued by Kinect and having never seen it in action, we decided to throw in MotionSports Adrenaline and give its two player action a spin. The menu system in the game is straight forward and very easy to use with the Kinect controls so it took no time at all to navigate to the Adrenaline Party and get it set up for 2 players.  In Adrenaline Party, you are given a random selection of 10 activities from the available 6 sports.  Some of these activities will be presented as a race between the two participants or a relay of one sport where each player will ‘tag’ off and pass play back and forth as the game prompts.

MSAD_Degree_Screenshot_4_ US_ONLY

Each of the available sports are well represented and look beautiful.  There is much care and detail put into the imagery presented in this game.  There are basically two possible objectives for each of the activities: the first is a time trial where you attempt to beat a specific time to achieve a gold medal, and the second is a coin count, where the objective will be to collect a specific number of coins or more.  It’s all pretty straight forward.

Unfortunately that is where it seems to fall apart. For each of the sports presented to us, it was unclear as to how to control the characters on screen.  It took us several tries to figure it out and get it right and even after we did understand it, we never really felt like we were truly in control.  Several times during the course of each sport, there are opportunities to obtain an Adrenaline Boost by performing a specific pose.  Many times it seemed the Kinect just wasn’t reading us correctly as it was difficult to obtain the bonus boost.  Additionally, during the relay events, the game would prompt us to switch out by having the current player perform a pose, while the new player performed a different pose and then swap out the player.  This was never achieved correctly in the several events we played.  Unfortunately it is this kind of unclear instructions and failure to recognize the player that was ineffectual in impressing my friend during his first try at playing Kinect.


After he left, I tried the single player party and played through all 10 presented activities.  My initial experience was unchanged after this additional play.  The Kayaking sport in particular was very difficult to figure out. The instructions explain to essentially paddle your arms above waist height to paddle quickly. I tried this sport twice and neither time did the onscreen kayaker ever begin rowing no matter how small or exaggerated my actions were.  The Mountain Biking event doesn’t truly give the illusion of biking either as you are only ever in one of three lanes with no freedom of movement.  Steering the bike only moves you from one lane to the other.

There is very little variation in the actions the player performs to control the sporting events. For example, the same controls are used to for both the Kitesurfing and the Mountain Biking sports, while another set of controls are used for Wingsuit Diving, Skiing, and essentially Kayaking.  Rock Climbing is the only sport that really differs from the rest, but even this one is boring as you’re just reaching out with each hand in the direction you want to climb.

After my completion of the Adrenaline Party and a few individually selected activities, I was done.  There was nothing here to make me want to play anything more.  For a title that attempts to bring the thrill of these extreme sports home, it truly fails to excite.

Ubisoft, I gave you an hour and I am NOT IMPRESSED.

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About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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