So the first comparable sports compilation comes to us, Big League Sports, I would think to compete with the Kinect Sports franchise, but it didn’t seem like it – here’s what the synopsis states:

All games are filled with one or two key moments that make the difference between winning and losing. Big League Sports skips the jump ball, ignores the kickoff, fast-forwards past half-time, and heads straight to the do-or-die moments where champions are made. Compete in six of the world’s most popular sports: football, basketball, soccer, baseball, hockey, and golf. Rise to the occasion in 18 skills challenges where you’ll use Xbox Kinect to make the highlight-reel play. Track your single-player stats on the leaderboard or challenge your friends in a variety of multiplayer games.

Overview

Unfortunately this game makes Kinect Sports look god like, I mean it is the best sports game we have at the moment, but this game really emphasises that statement.  As the synopsis states, the main sports are chopped down into basically a mini-game. I was really hoping we’d be able to play some full sports, but this title doesn’t do justice. There are some neat ideas involved, maybe Rare will pick up on them in the next Kinect Sports if there is one.

The Menu

Navigation is done via the hover and lock method. There’s only 3 options, which is fine, but you can choose from Tournament, Sports and Options. Tournament mode lets you choose 3 of the 18 mini-games to play in a row. That’s the only difference, Sports lets you choose individual mini-games and the options included are high scores for local players only, music/sfx volume, storage device and credits. It’s pretty simple, so I’ll get down to the sports, since that’s what really matters anyway.

Soccer

Big League Soccer
Big League Soccer is the first mini-game. Basically you are at the far end of the field. You run in place to start moving, but you don’t have to continue to run. The avatar character will run automatically the rest of the way. When prompted, you either dodge or jump against the defenders. When you get to the last one, sometimes you will kick it to the corner to set up a head shot but if not, you then kick it into the net. You can at least aim, but there’s an arrow that moves up and down which gives you your height. You do this 3 times. If you fail anytime, your multiplier gets reset. If you are successful throughout, it switches you into pro mode. The only thing pro-mode does is remove your icon notifications of what to do, although if you pay attention it’s not too difficult and I kind of preferred it. If you are looking for a soccer game, you will have to wait for FIFA 13 or keep playing Kinect Sports 1. Here’s a video I made of it, yes this is all it really is (in all of the videos, I left the instructions on how to play so you can get a feeling for this game):

Soccer Blocker
Soccer Blocker is a little better as you have freedom, it’s kind of like the Kinect Sports mini-game, although I still prefer the Kinect Sports version. All you have to do is block the balls, at random times, you will use both arms out to each side to dive. Here’s a video of it:

Score Kicker
Score Kicker is again like the Kinect Sports one, except this one isn’t all that bad. The ball doesn’t always line up with your foot so you do have to kind of move around sometimes. It has the arrow deal again but you can aim. Here’s the video to give you more details about it:

Football

Big League Football
This mode is similar to the soccer one, except you are free to stiff arm when you want. That’s really the major difference, they also added a lower your shoulder gesture in this one. This mode reminded me of the backbreaker animations which was a pretty cool game, but that was actually an in-depth game not this 2 minute deal. The whole spiking celebration is strange to me, I get that it’s for extra points, but this game is only competitive locally with more than 1 player, with no online multiplayer or leaderboards there’s really no competition, but I guess it’s better than nothing at all. This one also has a pro-mode if you are successful. Anyhow, here’s the video of it:

Field Goal
This one probably has the best name, lots of creativity here 🙂 Anyway, you raise your hand, kick the ball, and then you turn into an airplane using your arms and guide the football through 1 of 3 field goal posts, and getting bonus points in between. It’s ok, it’s weird, but the majority of mini-games are so it is what it is. Check out the video for better details:

TD Toss
This one I thought was actually pretty decent. If this was in the Kinect Sports 2 football, it would have made it a little better. You hike the ball by putting your hands together, dodge incoming defenders, turn your body to the receiver you want to throw to and then throw to your receiver. It then switches you to the receiver and then you have to catch it. It’s really not that big of a deal, but if this was in KS2, wouldn’t you agree it’s a little something extra that would have tasted better about the whole football aspect so to speak? Here’s the video of it:

Golf

Big League Golf
So, stick with Kinect Sports Season 2 for this one. I thought 9 holes was short…this one only has 3. You can’t change clubs and power and direction is based on the arrow deal. One arrow starts moving left and right, and then you begin to swing and a power meter starts to deplete. You finish the swing and the avatar hits the ball. You turn into an airplane again and guide your ball where ever. Putting is kind of the same, except no power meter, just direction. Here’s a video of the first hole:

Putting Challenge
This was kind of cool, it reminded me of Putt Putt which actually would work well for a Kinect game, but please developers if you are reading this — Make it worth buying!  Put like 100 different holes or even 200, add a tournament mode, add a campaign/story, add customizable characters — no more avatars — add anything else you can think of, enough of these games that only last hours. Anyhow, it’s actually quite easy as you can tell from my video, it would have been better if there was some kind of challenge to it:

Drive Contest
Another airplane one…the only difference is there are trampolines you can bounce the ball off of. Nothing too special about it, I didn’t really care for it, but here’s the video of it anyway:

Baseball

Big League Baseball
Baseball is probably the only somewhat realistic game in this game. It does offer 3 innings, or rounds as the game calls them, but it’s missing a ton of stuff from KS2. Pitching is odd, power doesn’t matter, you first watch a reticule move around in a pattern, then throw the ball to lock it in and then you do the airplane deal to curve the ball, and duck to sink it – very weird! Batting is also strange, power doesn’t matter and you can’t bunt. You can’t catch, you can’t run. It’s basic…something. The video will probably put you in awe, I only recorded one inning, didn’t want to torture everyone:

Fielding Frenzy
This mini-game I actually thought was kind of cool. If Rare put in these kind of fielding activities in their baseball, I think it would have been that much better. It is another freedom one, which I love these so much better than the pose/gesture deal. There are ground balls and jumping involved to catch and you just move your glove around. It’s neat, but again, not really challenging. Here’s the video of it:

Homerun Hero
Name sound familiar? That’s because it’s the exact name of a Kinect Sports Season 2 mini-game, but at least it’s not the same exact game. Anyhow it’s another airplane one, hit the ball and guide it through some targets. The whole guiding the ball thing is just really strange to me, maybe you’ll like it, but I really think this is more for kids to just have fun. Here’s the video of it:

Hockey

Big League Hockey
This takes after the soccer and football league mini-games. It’s a little different as you get to shoot at the end, the motions are there at least, but it’s the only hockey out there so I couldn’t compare it to anything. This one has a pro-mode as well. I guess it’s ok for what it is, it’s better than nothing, I’m from Hockeytown so I feel the pain with my Canadian brothers 🙂 Here’s the video:

Goalie Gauntlet
This is another free moving one, it’s like the soccer goalie one but I still liked it. I was too far away and then too close in the video when trying to slide my foot, so the controls weren’t messed up, I was 🙂  Here’s the video:

Slapshot Challenge
Guess what – another airplane challenge!  Except it’s with a puck, it’s all new, so it didn’t really bother me as much as the other ones, it’s neat, not amazing though. Here’s the video:

Basketball

Big League Basketball
Same as the others, except you dribble instead of running, but you just have to dribble once to start. The only different gesture is dribbling but you still dodge and jump. It’s ok, nothing spectacular. It also features the pro-mode. Here’s the video of it:

Shot Blocker
This is an odd one, you have super human jumping abilities and have to block 2 shooters shots. It’s all about timing, as long as you time it right, it works. Wasn’t as exciting as the other free moving games, here’s the video:

Shooting Challenge
This is kind of like a 3-point shootout, but it’s 3 balls or 6 balls if you count the same racks, instead of the normal 5. The 3rd ball is your money ball, or they refer to it as the star ball. This one is a little different from other basketball type mini-games that have been introduced. Instead of actually jumping and then shooting, you crouch to make your avatar jump and then stand up and shoot to release the ball. You just have to get the white line in the green section of the meter. It’s pretty basic. I was messing around a lot in this one so it did lose tracking of me, but again my fault, not the game. Check out the video:

Those are all of the mini-games included. Some side notes — you actually do have an objective. You are trying to build a golden trophy. It requires 3 pieces. Each piece is acquired from obtaining a gold on each mini-game in each section. To get a gold piece, you need 1000 skill points total. You accumulate skill points depending on well you do in each mini-game. I did find that actual scoring is based on your reaction time. The whole game is wash, rinse, repeat so don’t expect anything amazing or challenging. It took me about an hour to get the gold trophy for soccer, so all in all, it’s probably a 6-8 hour game including all achievements.

Multiplayer will only benefit if you have more than 1 player in the household, but its taking turns with everything and it’s local only, nothing online in this one and nothing simultaneous. After every event, it does attempt to make a quick collage of photos that Kinect has recorded, similar to Kinect Sports, but not as humorous. One other mention, they have dynamic weather like Cabela’s Adventure Camp, well not full weather but clouds at least. You will see it sunny and the clouds move and make it dark, then the clouds move past the sun and it’s bright again especially on the baseball/soccer games. The actual fields/ice/court are really detailed and detailed well. The little details like those are much appreciated.

What else is strange is that I get devs like to get on board with using the cartoon avatars games, but you can’t use your own avatar, so why play with the cartoon avatars? This game would have actually been a tad more fun if it was using realistic people. Anyhow, that’s really all there is to it. Another title that could have been so much more.

The Controls

I will mention that Activision seems to have a really good QA department or they know what developers to use, as with all of their games I haven’t really had any control issues besides my own faults. The menu navigation seems smoother than other games as well. It’s good that they seem to be obsessed with making the games work right, now if they can only fix the content and they could be releasing some quality titles. Also all of the gestures the avatars do are pre-animated, you can’t really do any of it, the only ones that allow movement are the free motion ones I noted. Last note, there is slight lag in the game, so with all of the timing activities, you have to include for this delay, if anything, it adds a bit of challenge to the game.

Conclusion

Well, I think most of us were hoping something to compete with Kinect Sports, unfortunately that’s not what this game is. It’s basic things at best, might keep you entertained for a day or two. I may be too generous or not generous enough in giving it a 5, but Big League Sports surely isn’t rubbish like some other recent Kinect titles. Hopefully Activision can get on the band wagon and start making some really nice games. Realistically what they’ve made for Kinect has been pretty fair, they aren’t must have titles for the general public, as they are hitting several niche markets. You may love this game, you may hate this game, that is why I made a video of every single activity in here so you can decide for yourself.

As I mentioned though, I really feel its more or less for kids that don’t care about playing a full sports game or a season, etc. which I’m guessing is why they used the cartoon avatars and hence the really strong arcade atmosphere. The one good point about it is that if you are older or can’t be as active as what Kinect Sports requires, then you can probably play this as it doesn’t require much activity at all. It’ll probably be the closest sports title without involving the normal activity level.

I know most of us want a full-blown sports title already and we can only look forward to Tiger Woods in the shortcoming. We want the other sports as well and I’m at the begging point now, so please 2K and EA Sports, get us baseball, hockey, basketball, tennis, FIFA, boxing and everything else already. Hell, Rockstar can even re-release their table tennis game with Kinect integration, that game was awesome and really in-depth, just someone give us something already that will take us months to finish or even never finish – 6-8 hour games for $40 is getting to be a little pricey in my book, especially when you can spend $60 on a quality title and play it for months or even years.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Big League Sports
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?