If you score well, you'll gain fans and unlock increasingly challenging courses and more cars, though I can't say I've noticed a discernible difference in handling or speed between them. At first it seems like there might be a decent amount of content, but after about half an hour, you'll realise that you're just doing the same things over and over again.
Of all the game modes, the Race and Stunt modes are the only ones that offer any lasting value. There are only seven full racecourses in total, and you have to endure an awful lot of grinding to unlock the last of them. As they get harder, the lack of precise control becomes more and more dismaying.
Joy Ride also has the same photo-taking habit as its brothers Adventures and Sport. I really wish it wouldn't do that. It's not preserving moments of fun for all eternity, it's taking embarrassing pictures of you and a mate standing up with your arms out in front of you and, usually, unattractive expressions of fear and concentration on your faces. It doesn't superimpose a marker-pen cock on your face, but it might as well. At least in Sports and Adventures you tend to be actually doing something with your body when it takes those surreptitious snaps.
Joy Ride's stickiest problem is its menu system. It uses the same functional gesture controls as other Kinect titles, asking you to hold your hand out in front of you and move it around to select icons, but after every single race it boots you right back to the main menu, five screens away from another go. For a game that's supposed to support frictionless, jump-in multiplayer, this is a real issue. The faffing makes twenty minutes playing Joy Ride feel more like an hour.
Every trip to the menu is another chance for Kinect to forget who you are, too. When you're playing during the day in ideal lighting conditions, this isn't so much of a problem, but as my play session stretched into the evening it would sign me in as a Guest and change my avatar to some hateful preset about one in three times. It's a small irritation, but it mounts, and recalibration didn't help much. Having to physically sign in over and over with hand gestures just makes you wish for a controller.
But then, with a controller, Joy Ride would just be a bland cartoon racer. Without one, it's a bland cartoon racer with an easily exhaustible gimmick. It's fun for a while, but by no stretch of the imagination is it worth Ł35. If it were bundled, or a downloadable title at a third of the price, it might pick up an extra point, but it doesn't have enough depth to justify the investment. It's not that Joy Ride doesn't work – it works perfectly well, within its own clear limitations – it's just that it's not something you'll want to play more than once or twice, with or without a pad in your hands.