Kinect Sports Rivals

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Key events

Kinect officially dead

Well bam, there it is.

The writing has been on the wall for some time, but now Microsoft has officially rubber-stamped it: Kinect is dead.

Microsoft pledges to support Rare

New games will be announced when the time is right.

Microsoft has pledged to support UK developer Rare after a round of layoffs hit the studio and Microsoft decided to sell Xbox One without the Kinect sensor.

VideoCan you trick Kinect Sports Rivals face-scanning with masks?

Sort of. Plus other stuff from Outside Xbox.

Hi Eurogamers, welcome to your weekly video debriefing from Outside Xbox. As summer approaches, our thoughts turn to getting in shape, and then how hard sports are, and then if there are any sports games we can play instead of doing actual sports, and then if you can cheat Kinect Sports Rivals' face-scanning character creator with rubber masks.

Kinect Sports Rivals review

Your first act in Kinect Sports Rivals is to kneel in front of the Kinect 2.0, Microsoft's fat, sinister slab of a camera - but it's no act of reverence. It's been eight years since Nintendo released Wii Sports, the game that ushered in a new way to play video games using grand swipes and waggles rather than plain button presses. Most players now view the once-exciting promise of motion control with apathy. Wii Sports' imitators broadly failed to find new and improved ways to explore the technology and following 2009's Wii Sports Resort, even Nintendo appears to have moved on from the game that was instrumental in selling more than 100 million Wii systems (judging by its half-hearted promotion of the Wii U remake, Wii Sports Club).

Rare has an unusually challenging task with Kinect Sports Rivals, then. It must reignite interest in motion control games in general and, specifically, it must convince sceptical Xbox One owners (and potential owners) that Kinect 2.0 has relevance in interactive entertainment - even as the return of virtual reality pushes it to the periphery.

Perhaps for this reason, before you're free to bat balls, climb walls or ride waves, Rare first asks you to give yourself afresh to the form - or at least to offer it your likeness. As you sit or kneel, the camera maps the contours of your face. It notices your skin tone, the sweep, flop or absence of your hair and assimilates all of the other features (glasses, facial hair) that distinguish you from the next player. The game chews the data and, finally, spits out a cartoon approximation of your likeness to represent you in the game. It's a caricature, obviously pieced together from a palette of pre-existing options, but the results are still impressive; it's a good trick that quickly establishes the distance in fidelity between Kinect 2.0 and its predecessor. This is technology that knows when you smile and when you frown, when your hand is open and when it is clenched.

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Hello, Eurogamers! This week, GDC left in its wake revelations of glittering new game technologies, but forget DirectX 12. Forget Project Morpheus. Kinect Sports Rivals can turn your face into a terrifying virtual mask with the power of Kinect and presumably some timelordy magic from narrator David Tennant. Watch Rare's first Xbox One game pour Mike into the unitard of a Kinect Sports Rivals champion in this avatar creation video.

Video: Kinect Sports Rivals preview

VideoVideo: Kinect Sports Rivals preview

Can Rare's latest game win over the Kinectophobes?

When I spoke to him last May, Phil Harrison said he thought Kinect 2.0 would redeem the controversial sensor's reputation with core gamers. If public sentiment over the last year is anything to go by, however, it certainly hasn't happened yet, despite us all enjoying the option to plug in our cable boxes and shout "Xbox mute" whenever that Hotels Combined advert comes on the telly.

Part of that is just a lack of games, though, so Rare's Kinect Sports Rivals, due out on 11th April, arguably represents the first chance Microsoft has had to really make a case for Kinect on Xbox One. The platform holder invited us up to Rare's Twycross offices recently to experience the game in person, and while Wesley reported on the future of Rare, our YouTube Editor Ian Higton captured footage and got stuck into the game. Ian's a confirmed Kinect sceptic, which is worth stating up front (and he does), so the question was whether Kinect Sports Rivals could change his mind...

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The future of Rare

After Kinect Sports, will the legendary UK developer finally give fans what they really want?

"I still feel a bit sad with you guys for the article you wrote about Rare being dead," Craig Duncan, the boss of the Microsoft-owned Kinect Sports developer, says at the beginning of our interview, not in an abrasive, confrontational way, but in a genuine, heartfelt way. I listen and believe it did make him sad. No doubt it saddened a few here.

Jimmy Fallon shows off the Xbox One

Will Forte is not amused.

Last week late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon showed off the PS4 app, The Playroom, ahead of the console's North American launch and now he's following suit with the Xbox One.

Kinect Sports Rivals Preseason will be free on Xbox One at launch

Microsoft has announced Kinect Sports Rivals Preseason, a free "trial experience" of Rare's motion-sensitive sports game.

It'll be available to download from the console's 22nd November launch in Europe, North America and Australia and feature wake racing, one of the full game's six main activities.

The Kinect Sports Hub app will also go live, and allow you to track your progress against others.

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Microsoft delays Xbox One launch title Kinect Sports Rivals

Xbox One launch title Kinect Sports Rivals will no longer be available at the platform's release.

The Rare-developed fitness sequel will now launch in spring next year, Polygon reported. The extra time will be used to apply polish and not compromise the game's quality, a Microsoft spokesperson said.

Kinect Sports Rivals was revealed in June during Microsoft's E3 2013 press conference, when the company promised it as a "day one" release.

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Kinect Sports Rivals announced as Xbox One launch title in November

Kinect Sports Rivals announced as Xbox One launch title in November

Rare has another core announcement for the Microsoft conference.

Kinect Sports Rivals has been announced by Danny Isaac as a launch title for Xbox One in November. We haven't heard that date before - perhaps he wasn't supposed to mention it.

Kinect Sports Rivals will feature the mini-games Climbing, Soccer, Wake Racing, Bowling, Target Shooting and Tennis.

The new Kinect camera will scan you and put you in the game, and not just your looks - apparently your skills, too, which sounds ambitious. All that data will be stored in that cloud and will be there for your friends to import into their game - asynchronous ghost multiplayer, it sounded like.

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