Kinect Joy Ride Review
Kinect Joy Ride box art
System: X360 (KINECT) Review Rating Legend
Dev: BigPark 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Microsoft Game Studios 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 4, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Nightmare drive
by Andrew Groen

Kinect Joy Ride may not be my favorite game on Kinect (very far from it, in fact), but I've got to give it kudos for at least one thing: you can play it while sitting. Holy moly! Glory Hallelujah! I don't have to stand uncomfortably during loading screens anymore! However, that jovial celebration wore off quickly as I realized Kinect Joy Ride was one of the more vapid and frustrating games to be released at the Kinect launch.

Kinect Joy Ride screenshot

As gamers we all tend to go a little softer on launch software than we do on games that come out a year or more down the line. There are a number of reasons for this. We're excited about the new hardware, and we're also understanding of the fact that games are hard to make on new systems. There are all sorts of lessons developers need to learn over the course of several games developed on a system, and that takes time.

Kinect Joy Ride will be afforded that courtesy, but it still won't be enough to excuse this game's terrible controls and complete lack of depth. Joy Ride could have served as an interesting tech demo at Microsoft's booth at an industry trade show or something similar, but that's about all. The fact that they've released this anemic package to the retail market and, worse yet, they're charging $50 for it, is an insult to gamers.

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Within a half-hour of gameplay, Joy Ride has essentially shown all of its cards. You're very unlikely to encounter anything after that point that will completely take you by surprise. During race events you slowly (and I mean slowly) gain fans that will allow you to unlock new cars and race tracks. The problem is that the huge majority of both of these things are extremely similar. Each track is generally pretty wel- rendered, but in substance it's almost exactly the same as the track that came before it.

Kinect Joy Ride screenshot

The story is exactly the same with all of the unlockable cars. Many of them look good, but they drive similarly. It's hard to tell the difference between even the most disparate varieties of cars. That's all due to the downright awful controls.

As with many other games released at Kinect's launch, we really don't know yet whether Kinect is to blame or if the individual games are to blame for poor controls. But what we do know is that Joy Ride is the poster child for what Kinect is not capable of, and it will be a substantial hit to the entire racing genre on Kinect. Gamers who spend their money on this game will not be likely to reinvest in another racing game when it comes around.

Kinect Joy Ride screenshot

The Kinect controls have you holding out your hands in mid-air pretending to hold a steering wheel. This is the first problem. As everybody knows, hovering your arms out in front of you for more than sixty seconds is bound to lead to sore arms. It's not a pleasant experience. But even while you're doing that, Joy Ride isn't doing a good job of interpreting your movements anyway. One moment you'll be gently twisting your wrists to do a slight turn, and Kinect will completely ignore you. Then move your hands just slightly more and you'll go careening into a wall. And that's only if you're lucky enough to have all of that picked up by the sensor. Far too often you'll just be ignored entirely.

Screenshots / Images
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