Kinect Sports (Xbox Retail/Kinect)
Given the popularity of Wii Sports and the natural fit of athletic games and motion controllers, it should be no surprise that this type of game dominates the Kinect’s launch slate. If Rare’s Kinect Sports is not the genre’s front-runner, it’s at least the first out of the block for the Xbox 360. After selecting an Avatar to play with, the demo’s welcome screen allows you to warm up a crowd with your hands by triggering fireworks, initiating a crowd wave and most satisfyingly: the raising of both hands in triumph to elicit wild cheers. For some gamers, this effect might never get old. Of the game proper, you will be dropped into two of the full title’s events. The first is a 100m dash, which will require you to furiously jog and wave your arms in place. The Kinect does a good job recognizing your movements, if you can keep yourself from if not dashing headlong into your TV or at least from drifting out of the sensor’s range. After the race, you are shifted to a bowling alley for two frames (the 9th and 10th) of ten-pin, with product placed logo balls (T-Mobile! Samsung!). Pre-throw lane positioning done with your physical position works well enough, but the throw, done with just a wave of your arm forward, lacks the ‘feel’ or at least the illusion of control that was found with this game’s Wii counterpart.
A World of Keflings (Xbox Live Arcade)
The Lilliputian 4x adventure that was A Kingdom for Keflings returns with the same light-hearted tone, but with new environments to explore and expanded building customization options. The demo takes the player, personified by their XBL Avatar, though the process of collecting resources, personally or by assigning a diminutive Kefling, and constructing buildings either by request of your subjects to advance a basic storyline, or however your choose. The game’s pace is slow enough, the most urgent matter was the appearance of a dragon, vanquished by the use of a ‘shoo!’ emote. The basic controls never get in the way, and it is the rare title that is built to complement the cartoon-like XBL Avatars that often look jarringly inhuman when used in other games. Unlockable emotes, along with new building blueprints and upgradable Keflings, add a slight RPG element that will dole out new content to retain player interest. While the game’s music is public domain quality, and the Simlish-like speech of the Keflings can be grating, their tongue-in-cheek humor will keep the cut-scenes from being skipped at least the first time through.
Dead Space 2 (Xbox Retail)
Isaac Clarke, the Gordon Freeman of spaceship engineers, returns for more sci-fi survival horror in this sequel to the exceedingly well-marketed 2008 original. After a lengthy and first-game-spoiler packed intro video the demo drops you, to the benefit of returning players and the detriment of newbies, into part of a stage taking place on a necromorph infested space colony to experience the genuinely creepily lit, intractably detailed atmosphere that isn’t diminished by the plethora of stock enemy jump-out ‘scares.’ The trial stage not only lets you try out four of the weapons and the physics based TK-like powers, but do a little puzzle solving and maneuvering in zero gravity. Overall there isn’t much new: the 3rd person gameplay with the spinal heath meter, the in-world game/inventory menus, and QTE cutscenes all make a return, but the sequel’s most anticipated feature, multiplayer, is absent from the demo.Play any? What'd you think of these demos?