What, no blue shells with wings?
I'm not entirely certain where I should begin this review. I guess saying that "it's good" is a nice place to start but, generally speaking, I'm expected to write more than a few words when reviewing a video game. Even the previous (and, I'll admit, current) sentence was designed to "fluff" as many words out as possible; sort of, I'll gamble, like any one of you has done on some essay in school. I'm expected to write so many words to keep my job.
[image1]Here's the thing: I can't write nearly as much about Kinect Joy Ride as I have for Kane & Lynch, or Lego Universe, or Shaun White Skateboarding. While Joy Ride may be a fun game, it does not live by the same standards as those other games. While that list is composed entirely of full-length titles – and are priced accordingly – Joy Ride is comparable to DLC, and should almost be treated as such. Almost.
Kinect Joyride is one of the launch titles for Kinect, an attachment for the Xbox 360 that wildly changes up how games are played. And on its own merits, Kinect Joy Ride is an incredibly fun and silly game.
The Kinect controls for the game work surprisingly well. I rarely had issues when trying to "drive"; that is, not related to my own inability to win at racing games. You "steer" by holding up your hands as though grasping an imaginary steering wheel and, appropriately enough, "turning" the wheel will then steer your car throughout the game.
Speed can be gained by performing "boost" maneuvers, wherein you lean your body forward and backward like you're doing the Time Warp, or "stunts" when flying through the air, by tilting your body in various directions to flip your car, spin it, or do a barrel roll! Acceleration and deceleration are handled automatically, with the two speeds being for all intents and purposes "pedal to the medal" and "stop crashing so I can get out of last place again".
[image2]The gameplay features a fair variety of modes with enough difference between them that they won't get stale after a single play. There is, of course, the standard suite of racing modes that most players are familiar with, including a strange "battle mode" that feels like a watered down form of Mario Kart, but also a series of scenarios that feel slightly out of place.
There is the "stunt" zone, where you ride your car through a half pipe, where you gain speed and height by hitting floating bombs and performing flips and spins and barrel rolls. There is a demolition derby, where you practice "drifting" to hit as many targets as you can, before launching your car off a ramp to smash into a giant monkey figure. And finally… well, I'm not entirely sure what to call it. Car dancing in the stars? After a somewhat confusing sequence of transformations, your car turns into a plane, your Xbox Avatar leaps out onto the wings, and you (the player) have to perform various "tricks" while mimicking your on-screen character. Failure to do so results in crashing and burning.
Multiplayer modes work as well as can be expected and, to some extent, better than online modes in other titles. I was worried that the interface and controls of Kinect would cause some serious lag when playing over a network; after loading up and trashtalking a complete stranger, I was able to make him eat my fumes with no discernible lag or network issue – though utilizing Kinect's built-in microphone resulted in some painful feedback. Picking a map and starting the game took almost no time at all, and the matchmaking setup works well and actually faster, at least, than the likes of Modern Warfare or any given Halo title.
[image3]The red-flag issue, however, is the price tag. While the game is certainly fun, I can't imagine spending $50 on it, especially when it reeks of "showcase title" – the kind of game that seems to be designed more as a way of showing off technology than for great and lasting gameplay. The variety of modes the game offers seem to back this up, with some variations seeming almost arbitrary in their effort to make the player contort and twist and show off how awesome Kinect is. Where the racing, the battle, and stunt modes are enjoyable, the strange plane-dancing and demolition derby arenas were not.
In the grand scheme of things, Kinect Joy Ride alone is certainly worth playing; it's far from a complete waste of time, and the kind of entertainment that makes it worth playing more than once. I wouldn't say this is the kind of thing that would motivate you to buy a Kinect if you don't already own one; and I'd go one step further and suggest you wait for the price to drop before picking it up. It's a fun game that potentially has some lasting replay value, but it's not worth $50.