So I’m getting around to “re-reviewing” the older games, it’s quite useful to be honest. Most of these I played as soon as Kinect came out so I didn’t know what to expect nor had anything to compare with so it’s good to take a second look at some of these. Deca Sports Freedom is one of those. This was one of the original launch titles with Kinect and it was really bad back then, but since then it seems to have been patched and it works for the most part. The big thing like I said, I have other games to compare now, so my scores have changed. If by some miracle, you haven’t heard of this one, here’s the summary:

Ten sports. Zero controllers. Play your favorite sports with complete freedom to  move in this first Deca collection designed for Xbox Kinect. Swing rackets,  spike volleyballs, throw uppercuts, glide across the ice, and much more as you  play each game with complete realism. Choose from Tennis, Boxing, Figure  Skating, Archery, Snowboard Cross, Mogul Skiing, Dodge Ball, Kendo, Beach  Volleyball, and Paintball. If you do well, your avatar will score perks just  like a real athlete, earning licensed Adidas apparel to wear in-game. If you do  really well, your avatar can even take the clothes outside the Deca world.

Overview

Overall, it’s pretty mediocre. There are things I still don’t like about it, but there’s other things I do now like about it. I’ve also included videos for every event as I didn’t have the option available when I first started reviewing these. Anyhow, it does feature Xbox Live matches which is more than I can say for example, Big League Sports. Probably the good thing right now, since this game was severely bashed in the beginning is that you can pick it up for dirt cheap, if you don’t own it yet or maybe want it now. Anyhow, onto the review!

The Menu

The menu uses a hover and lock method and it works for the most part. There are other areas during the event when your hands disappear and you have to choose buttons by guessing. It was quite annoying then and still is quite annoying now. The main menu consists of Single Player, Multi-player, Xbox Live, Records, Tutorial and Locker Room. As usual, I’ll break each one down.

Single Player/Multi-player

Single player allows quite a few options, although there are only 10 events. The single player options are Open Match, League, Tournament and VS Match. Open Match allows you to play whatever with whatever options you want. League is broken down into 4 teams, and the team that accumulates the most points wins. All 10 sports are played and each sport gives points to your team. There are 4 leagues to choose from; Local, National, Global and Ultimate, all referred to their difficulty levels. You can take a break from the league mode as it does save your progress where you leave off.

Tournament mode allows you to choose 1 sport for 8 teams to play in a tournament style match. If you beat the team you are matched up against, you advance to the next round to go up another winning team, basically a ladder style. There are 4 cups to play as well; Local, National, Global and Ultimate, again referred to their difficulty level. You can also resume where you left off in Tournament mode.

VS Match plays a randomly selected sport. The number of wins can be set from 1 to 10 and determines the winner. Now the only thing different between single player and multi-player is the League mode, which isn’t available for 2 local players, which I’m not certain why, but it is what it is. Now that you are aware of the modes, I’ll break down each event. I am describing them from the Open Match mode as the other modes skip a lot of the options.

Events

Tennis
Tennis can be played locally with 1-2 players, and online with 1-4 players. I’ll be noting the number of players in each event as they vary. The tennis itself is alright. It’s nothing like any tennis mode I have played with any game, so it’s in its own category. You first start off by choosing Singles or Doubles. You then choose your team which I go over later in the team area. Once you choose your team, you can then choose some details on the sport, read the rules, go over the tutorial, and view the controls. The details area allows you to customize the type of game. In all of the sports, you can change the COM level from Easy, Normal, Hard and Ultimate. In Tennis, however, you can change the number of sets from 3 games, to 1 set and to 3 sets. You can also change the type of court from grass, hard and clay. There’s also an option to change Kinect’s viewpoint from either looking straight at you or above you looking down.

Anyhow, after choosing your options you begin your game. You begin serving normally, tossing the ball with one hand and swinging with the other. You can swing with a lob, forehand, backhand and overhead for a smash. You can also move left and right during the serve, although after that, your movements are controlled automatically. There seems to be ways of hitting the ball perfectly which gives it a power boost as well some different spins but I couldn’t figure it all out. Anyhow, the video probably explains more than I can. I played everything on Ultimate difficulty so anything that may seem easy, it doesn’t get harder than this:

Beach Volleyball
Beach Volleyball can be played locally with 1-2 players and online with 1-4 players. This one I didn’t like 2 years ago and I still don’t like it now. The Kinect Sports version is still the best. There’s just all kinds of things wrong with this one. In the details area, you can choose either 1 or 3 sets and the set points, either 5, 11 or 21. You can also change the viewpoint. Once you start, you serve like normal and then it gets weird. The ball seems to ignore gravity and it just floats around. You can do normal volleyball gestures, but you have to time it correctly. Because of the physics issue, it’s not easy to determine when it wants you to do gestures. Anyhow, the video explains it better again:

Archery
Archery can be played locally with 1-2 players and online with 1-4 players. This one is ok, but as time went on, we’ve seen archery done better in other games. I suppose the good thing about it is that it works and can be made into a challenge even though it seems like luck plays a key role to it. Anyhow, the details allow you to change to either 6, 10 or 16 shots. It consists of 2 distances, 30m and 50m, so depending on the shots you will either have 3, 5 or 8 shots per distance. There is a new option with this one, sudden death, which is the tie breaker – however, actually getting the same amount of points in this one seems a little far-fetched. You do the normal draw your arrow back and flick your dominant hand away from your face. It works, not much else to it, see the video below:

Kendo
Kendo can be played locally and online with only 1-2 players. The details allow you to adjust the time per round from 1, 3 or 5 minutes and change the number of strikes per round from 1, 2 or 3. There is a sudden death option available as well, in case both teams win 1 round each. This one is fairly simple and quick to the point. You swing one of 3 ways and you can dodge. Check out the video below:

Mogul Skiing
Mogul Skiing allows 1-2 players locally and 1-4 players online. I didn’t understand this one before and I still don’t understand it now. It’s the most off the wall event I’ve ever played in any game. Anyhow, there are no custom settings for this one. Basically, you do some bunny hill hopping and then hit a couple of ramps that shoot you straight up into the air. During this time you are to perform a trick. It’s very slow and I really don’t comprehend it. Here’s the video of it:

Figure Skating
Figure skating allows 1-2 players locally and 1-4 players online. When you first choose the event, you have 3 different songs to choose from which are, Madama Butterfly, Carmen and Violin Concerto, basically I think they are easy, normal and hard difficulties to be honest. Anyhow once you choose one, you can get into the regular section to begin playing. There are no customization options for this one either. The figure skating is the normal do some poses again as we’ve seen in other titles. It’s self-explanatory, view the video below:

Dodge Ball
Dodge ball allows 1-2 players locally and online. The details area allows to choose 1, 3 or 5 sets. You can also have a sudden death match as well. Dodge ball could have been a little better, following actual rules allowing you to get team members back in if you catch it. There is a jump ball in the beginning and then you can throw, pass, catch and evade. Last time I played this I couldn’t get it to work right, but this time around I didn’t seem to have any problems possibly due to the patch. It is what it is though, check out the video below:

Snowboard Cross
Snowboarding allows 1-2 players locally and 1-4 players online. When you first choose the event, you can choose a beginner, intermediate or advanced course. There are no customization options. I’m not certain about this one anymore as other games that have snowboarding allow you to turn sideways. When I turned sideways, the Kinect viewfinder window was still showing me facing forwards. The controls are all awkward as you lean with your head basically and use your arms for tricks which I wasn’t able to perform any. Overall, it’s done better elsewhere but you can be the judge yourself:

Paintball
Paintball allows 1-2 players locally and 1-4 players online. When you first begin, you can choose either Elimination or Capture The Flag. Once you choose a mode, you can only adjust the amount of time you play for, from 1, 3 or 5 minutes. Paintball in a nutshell is a very basic first person shooter. Once you get used to the controls, they work fairly well for the most part, but the gameplay itself is just too slow and the AI is horrendous. You basically move with your feet, use your arm to turn your head and aim, do the pew-pew gesture to shoot and you can sidestep and crouch around cover. Like I said, it takes a bit to get used to, but once you do, it’s not bad at all. I preferred the Capture The Flag mode so I made the video of it:

Boxing
Boxing can be played locally or online with 1-2 players. The details area allows you to adjust the number of rounds from 3, 5 or 8. This version of boxing is pretty bad, you just wail away although in the video I made it look like you have to some skill. There’s not much to it, it wasn’t good back then and isn’t any better now. I’d still like to see a real boxing game one of these days, but anyhow, check out the video below:

Xbox Live

This is one of the few games that actually let you play online with people, so keep that in mind when you are asking why I changed the score. The xbox section allows you to join a player match, ranked match, host a match and create an Xbox Live Party. Surprisingly enough, the servers are still online and you can play online although I couldn’t find a soul playing this game so I can’t tell you how well it works online.

Records

The records area keeps track of everything you participate in. You can check the number of wins you accumulated in League and Tournament modes, along with your rankings and achievements. You can also check leaderboards with friends, the world and your individual scores.

Tutorial

I do have to say, the tutorials are pretty in-depth. You are first presented with an example and read what you are supposed to do. It breaks down everything into simple things to remember. After that, you have the option to practice and it will let you know if you did it right or wrong. At least the tutorials were done well.

Locker Room

The locker room consists of Options, Team Editor, Credits and to change your storage device. The options allow the BGM/SoundFX volumes and the time until confirmation to be adjusted. The Team Editor allows you create a custom team which is where I’ll go into details about team members. When you choose to create a custom team, you begin with choosing your members. You can only have 5 players on a team.

Team members are rated on their power vs. speed and technique vs. reach. Basically, height and weight – height has taller athletes with better reach, but shorter athletes are more agile. Heavier athletes have more power and lighter athletes have more speed. If you use your avatar, it does actually rate you based on how tall it is and how heavy it seems. Once you choose your members, you can then choose a uniform, either a Deca Sports one or one from adidas. After that, you can change the colors and then choose to save it. If you save it, you can then choose a team name and then a team logo. If you don’t use a custom team, there are 8 teams pre-defined for you. These teams consist of:

  • Average Joes
  • Mad Maidens
  • Boost Force
  • Disco Knights
  • Crusaders
  • Hard Hitters
  • Speed Strikers
  • Team Thunder

On another note, when you do choose an event and are in the ready to play area, you can select the team arrow thing above them and you can re-arrange your players based on their stats. Also note, when changing your own position (such as if you wanted to play round 2 in Kendo instead of round 1), it does change your viewpoint based on what position you play so its kind of neat.

Conclusion

2 years ago, I didn’t care for this game at all. Now, it’s not so bad, compared to Big League Sports, for example, it’s about the same except it does have online features. Little did we know back then not a lot of Kinect games would feature online play so it’s a bonus now. Anyhow, as I mentioned, the game was severely bashed back then so you can pick it up for dirt cheap (which is what I did) now and take another look at it.


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