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CVG
6 Reviews

Joy Ride (Kinect)

The hand in front of your race

I dare you. I double dare you.

Go out and get in your car. Start the engine and stand up, so that your head is sticking out of the sunroof.

Recruit a stumpy helper to kneel at your feet. He or she will be accelerating and braking for you as you steam down the motorway - completely out of your control.

For a nice final twist, remove the steering wheel and get a boffin friend to replace it with an imperceptible camera to track your movements instead.

The calibration of the steering is very important, so make sure your chosen boffin is diligent: It needs to be impossibly sensitive. Shift your imaginary wheel an inch to the left, and the car should screech a full 45 degrees, usually smashing you into a rock face.

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Enjoy the drive!

Don't do any of that, obviously. You'll be arrested. And rightly so. You'll also probably die.

More to the point, it won't exactly be much of a thrill. You can sort of understand why criminals get an adrenalin rush from speeding away from a bank heist, or a daring smash and grab - and, therefore, why it's fun to play at doing so on a games console.

But the sunroof-stumpy-boffin-imaginary-wheel combo? That just sounds like hassle.

Astonishingly, some people at Microsoft thought this could be the basis for a fantastic Kinect launch game. A racing title in which you have to stand up while your avatar sits down? Who gave the rubber stamp to that? Even the boxart shows a smiley man driving whilst resting on his arse. (His passenger is stood up, arms aloft. But then passengers can do just that: They're not driving.)

Hassle. It's pretty much the epitome of the Joy Ride experience.

It's not even the game's fault. If you remember, Joy Ride was initially a controller-based racer. It was supposed to be Microsoft's answer to Mario Kart. It was never going to work, obviously - but by hastily translating existing code to a motion controller, Microsoft has taken an unoriginal concept and put it into tailspin.

Each mode of Joy Ride - Pro Race, Battle Race, Stunt, Dash, Smash, Trick - is based around the same mechanic. You raise your hands up to chest height as if you were grabbing a steering wheel to begin. The car (and we still can't really believe we're writing this about a racing game) accelerates and brakes for you - you have no control on speed, aside from a 'boost' option. To execute this, you pull back on your imaginary wheel, which fills up a power gauge - and then push forwards.

Throughout the race, you can lean left or right to power-slide or - if jumping through the air - to pull off tricks. You move your 'wheel' left and right to steer.

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All of this is fairly impressive to a degree. The game responds with hardly any perceptible latency, and the boost feature is fun - and far a more frantic experience than a mere press of a button. In terms of responsiveness, Joy Ride has come a long way from the sluggish early demos we saw at E3 in June.

In addition, the modes themselves offer some nice diversity: Pro Race is, as it sounds, a standard free-for-all versus seven other drivers. Stunt sees you shooting up and down a half-pipe course, grabbing goodies such as cherries and coins whilst smashing glass ceilings - all against the clock.

Dash is a straight time trial in which your 'lean' is all important as you look to avoid obstacles. Smash tasks you with crashing into increasingly bigger objects until you topple a huge target.

Trick has the least to do with racing. Here you have to match different poses as your car soars through the skies. By virtue of having very little to do with accelerating or slowing down, it's Joy Ride's least frustrating mode.

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