MotionSports was always going to find it hard to make a name for itself amongst the Kinect launch line-up. With Kinect Sports hogging the limelight, another avatar based sporting mini-game collection would have simply crumbled under the pressure, and so, MotionSports took a slightly different approach.
What you have here is a collection of sports with an emphasis not on weird looking avatars, but on realism. With the list of recreated sports on offer spanning a few common choices, with a few more bizarre picks in to round everything out (hang gliding, horse riding, football, skiing, American football and boxing all get a look in here), MotionSports does enough to stand out on its own, with several "sports" that are only found in this compilation. The only problem is, that edge towards realism also plays havoc with the controls.
If you're playing against a computer controlled opponent, the chances are you're going to lose, and lose badly. Clearly, the pressures of being a launch title have weighed heavily on MotionSports, as several of the minigames are so horribly unbalanced. In football, for example, where you take it in turns to both take, and save penalties against the computer, your AI opponent is something of a footballing God. They'll always go the right way, always dive at exactly the right time, and you'll always be just that little bit too low. We're still not even all that sure how exactly you're meant to dive to save the ball, as diving in your living room doesn't seem like the most sensible of options, and leaning left and right doesn't always have the desired effect.
But boxing, perhaps, is the worst contender of the bunch. Holding your arms up to your face, as if you were genuinely boxing, you'll throw lefts, rights, and uppercuts at your opponent, all while dodging their moves like a butterfly. Or, at least, you'll try to. While we found ourselves breezing through the first round, no sooner had we started the second round than we found ourselves staring at the lights. Going from fairly easy to ridiculously hard in the space of two levels, the boxer you face goes from being a complete greenhorn to a digital Ali, dealing stupid amounts of damage with each punch, and dodging all of yours, perfectly.
Thankfully, in terms of difficulty, these two are the worst of the bunch, but many of the other mini games in the bundle have their moments of frustration - usually due to the inaccuracy of the controls. American football offers a similar microcosm to MotionSport's version of football, as you leg it from one end of a pitch to the other, dodging the burly opponents as you race towards a touchdown. It's fairly straightforward, and the controls work pretty well, but it still seems to have trouble recognising you ducking from time to time.
One of the more unusual minigames for a sports collection, Horse Riding, also suffers from similar problems with controls, as, although it's just about playable, your horse simply doesn't seem to respond enough to your controls. Playing with your hands out in front of you, as if you were gripping some imaginary reigns, you've got to shake the invisible reigns to make your horse move, while holding your right arm out to the side will make your horse steer right, and holding your left arm out has the opposite effect. The goal of the game is to drive your horse (do you drive a horse?) through a series of jumps, leaping over the bars as you reach them, in the shortest time possible. The only problem is, when your horse seemingly has the turning circle of a small house, and is hell bent on continually accelerating until he breaks the sound barrier, it's a bit hard to steer with anything approaching a level of accuracy.
Thankfully, the controls in the Skiing game are a lot better, and it's here the package really starts to shine. Doing as you'd do in real life, including miming pushing off to pick up speed, you'll hurtle down a hill, doing your best to not end up rolling into a giant snowball, as you either slalom, or ski jump your way to success. Using your entire body as the controller actually works well here - although being crouched in the skiing position for so long does take its toll on your back.
Of all the games, however, hang gliding is easily the best - simply because it actually works. With no computer opponents to deal with, there's no-one to beat you up, chew you up, and spit you out within a few seconds of starting, so the game suddenly becomes a lot more fun. Again, with your arms out in front of you (or bent at the elbow), you lift your right arm, and lower your left to turn left, and do the opposite to turn right. Your goal is simply to navigate a number of worlds, from a bustling cityscape, to a sparse canyon, using the thermals for lift, before coming in for a perfect landing. It's responsive, relaxing, and actually quite a lot of fun - if only the rest of the game had been more like this!
In the end, MotionSports is a fun collection of mini games, most of which work fairly well, but it's greatly let down by its difficulty. It's no fun finding yourself getting knocked out within a few seconds on the boxing game, or having every shot saved in football, and if it happened to us, we're sure it'll happen to families, children, and you as well. With no AI to deal with, hang gliding is the pick of the bunch, although skiing is pretty fun as well, and these offer the package some redemption.
If you're dying for a sports bundle, however, we'd go for Kinect Sports - unless you really like horse riding, or are a complete masochist.