STAFF REVIEW of Motion Sports: Adrenaline (Xbox 360)

Thursday, December 15, 2011.
by Adam Dileva

Motion Sports: Adrenaline Box art If you want to get your sports game fix, it?s normally not a problem. Hockey, Football, Soccer, Rugby, and even Cricket games come in yearly iterations, but what if you?re into something a little more extreme? There?s been a light sprinkling of downhill biking and skiing games in the past, but very far and few in between, and they usually aren?t all that great.

Motionsports Adrenaline tries to rectify this by putting some of the more intense extreme sports out there in this one gaming package. In Adrenaline, you?ll be wearing a wingsuit and free fall down a mountainside, use the wind to kitesurf some insane layouts, kayak down some fierce rapids and waterfalls, downhill biking at breakneck speeds, extreme skiing with massive jumps, and even rock climbing while avoiding falling boulders. It may sound a little cheesy, but I don?t recall a game collection quite like this one (even without the motion controls) that has multiple unique sports all in one package.

Adrenaline requires a moderate amount of space to play in properly. While I didn?t have to completely reorganize my living to play, I did need to stand a little further back than some games allow. Also, I?ll let you know right off the bat that the controls aren?t always the most responsive. You will become frustrated at times trying to properly steer but with the actual steering not happening properly or with a slight delay. The event you?ll notice this the most will be in the Rock Climbing, as it has you reach our your arms in a direction then pull them back into your chest (as if you?re pulling yourself up) but you?ll notice a distinct lag from movement and game input.

As you travel around the world to different locations for each event, your goal is to score as high as possible to pick up coins that will fill your boost meter quickly (which in turn helps you cross the finish line quicker). As you do your best to avoid obstacles, most events will also have you performing stunts mid-air as well by mimicking the pose needed. As you score higher, you?ll unlock new gear to wear that will give you boost from the beginning and other bonuses as well, if you choose to wear these better clothing. In each event, there are only two or three courses available, so it won?t take long to unlock them all and to bring on fatigue from repetition. If you?re playing connected to Xbox Live, periodic challenges from other players will pop up on screen for you to contest, but it?s very confusing and it doesn?t tell you what you really need to do to ?win? against them.

So let?s talk about each event shall we. First off is the Wingsuit event; this event begins with you jumping off a cliff into complete free fall down a mountainside. As you barrel down the side of the mountain, you need to hold your arms out to slow down, lean to the sides to steer horizontally, and put your arms at your side to speed up. You?re able to crouch and jump to steer ?up? and ?down? (camera is from behind you looking downwards). There are some branching paths depending on which path of coins you wish to try and collect, and you?ll also need to mimic poses to do stunts as you soar through the corresponding markers for bonus points.

For the Mountain Biking event, you?ll be speeding downhill as quickly as possible as you gather coins, take jumps, and navigate steep corners. You hold out your hands as if you?re holding onto the actual handlebars, and move your hands as if you are turning on a real bike. You?re riding on essentially 3 lanes and you turn your handlebars to choose the lane with the coins and without the obstacles. As you get to the tight corners, you need to turn at the appropriate time to get a speed boost. You never feel like you have complete control of your biker beside you?re really only choosing between the three lanes for the duration of the race.

The Kayak event will have you rushing down white-water rapids and jumping down waterfalls. You steer by leaning your body, speed up by paddling, and even do a roll by going underwater by crouching. The problem with this event is that you always need to keep your speed up by constantly paddling but you need to turn very often as well, and it seems like Kinect doesn?t like when you?re trying to do multiple things at once. It becomes very difficult to duck, then paddle, then steer, then paddle, then duck for the whole race. You never really feel like you?re in control of your kayak as you?re constantly trying to fight either the steering or the paddling.

Extreme Skiing will have you barreling down the mountain while avoiding trees and taking huge jumps. I found this event to have the same problems as Kayaking, as you need to keep pumping your arms to push with your poles as you lean to steer also. When you take a jump, stunts are performed by copying the pose of the ring you pass through (like all the other events) and you?ll even need to crouch just before landing to get a soft landing and keep your speed. This does become tiring when you?re constantly jumping and crouching while flailing your arms to keep up. Sometimes ramps will have a tree branch attached to the end where it will automatically grind then jump for you, leaving you to just do the stunt pose for more points.

I found the Rock Climbing event to be the most frustrating, control-wise. You need to reach out your arms in whatever direction you want to go (provided there?s a hand hold for you to grip onto), then pull your arm back into your chest, as if you?re ?pulling up?. I found it took many times of the same gesture for Kinect to register exactly where I wanted to go, and when it did work, there was always a delay between my movement and the on-screen gesture. You?ll need to avoid falling boulders and mossy handholds will slow down your progress. This was easily the weakest of the events, and that?s not even taking into account the frustrating controls.

My favorite event is Kite-surfing. This has you on a wakeboard being pulled by an attached parachute in the wind. You move by leaning and holding onto the handle bars in front of you and you?ll need to steer and jump to find the best areas for coins and stunts. There?s not much to this event, but I found it the easiest to play as you?re essentially just steering and jumping.

There is a severe lack of tutorials for the game which will have you struggling early on to perform well at all (not even taking into account the controls). There are some slides before the event begins that show you how to play said event, but if you?re switching events often or forgot, you?re on your own and will just flail your arms around trying to figure out if you had to raise your arms or jump to boost. Adrenaline doesn?t teach you how to play well aside from these quick slides that most people will skip past.

As for Adrenalines graphics, it?s simply adequate but underwhelming. When you?re speeding down the mountain in a wingsuit or taking jumps on your skis, the frame rate stays solid and nothing terrible stands out, but when you slow down or finish an event, you can really see how basic the modeling and textures are (especially the water after a Kite-surfing event). The same goes for the game?s audio. While there are some licensed rock songs, there aren?t many, and you?re simply better off streaming your own soundtracks while playing.

If you have up to three other friends that want to play with you, Adrenaline Party is the mode for you. It allows for 10 randomly selected events to compete in; the player with the highest score at the end of the events is the winner. The two problems with this mode is that the scores don?t work towards your game unlocks and again, the lack of tutorials. New players are going to be confused how to play while veterans will have that unfair advantage.

There is one other mode that allows you to compete against other online players? scores (unlike the pop-up challenges). You Against the World mode has one huge problem with it though; it?s not unlocked until you create a Uplay account and unlock it with Uplay points. This means you?re forced to sign up for their service if you want to unlock the full game to play. I honestly didn?t unlock this mode as I save my Uplay points for other Ubisoft games, but being forced to take this extra step seems completely unnecessary and is just a ploy to force you to sign up for Uplay. I have nothing against Uplay at all, but being forced to use your Uplay points and sign up might seem a little too much for some people.

Motionsports Adrenaline is a blatant advertisement for Degree deodorant, as it is plastered everywhere (one of the modes even has it in the name). It seems out of place and very tacky, but I guess you want to smell good when performing these extreme sports. Maybe if the game came with a free coupon to get a stick of it, I might have let it pass.

It won?t take too long to unlock everything in the game and once you?re done playing each event a few times, there?s very little reason to keep on playing unless you really want to move up the leaderboards by beating scores. With shoddy controls at times and very little replay value, I can already tell you that the game has been shelved for me and I have no reason to ever go back, which is a shame, as I though this game could have had so much potential. Instead, each event basically plays the same (aside from the uninteresting Rock Climbing), and if you get it to control properly, it?s really not even all that fun for more than an hour or two.

Overall: 3.0 / 10
Gameplay: 3.0 / 10
Visuals: 3.0 / 10
Sound: 3.0 / 10


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