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CrossBoard 7 uses Kinect's controls wisely in a downhill boarding experience that reminded me of the real thing. If you have the time to invest it really starts to flow.
I don't consider myself an expert when it comes to snowboarding, but I do pride myself on knowing the basics. Having found Sonic Free Riders (Kinect) too rudimentary to account for real-life boarding skills I wasn't expecting a lot from Cross Board 7.
But rather than the complex challenges and fiddly steer of Sonic Free Riders, I was impressed to find a much more controllable ride. Rather than overcomplicating things with collectibles, power-ups and the like, Cross Board 7 (Adrenalin Misfits in the States) focuses on creating a true to life - if cartoony - rendition of getting down a slope.
The controls are more sensitive than Sonic Free Riders too, although still not delivering the immediacy of a joy pad. I didn't mind this lack of precision, after all in real life you are not in total control of your board - not all the time anyway. At first this mean I was bumping off the edges and struggling to hit a clean run but with practice I learnt to look ahead more and anticipate the approaching corners, again something that mirrored the focus you need to do this for real.
Like Kinect Sports you can use your 360 avatar as your character in the game.
Once you have got to grips with the controls via the comprehensive tutorials you are given access to a range of modes for both one and two players. The usual Race, Slalom and Time trial challenges are joined by more fantastical events like Fly Distance and Balloon Buster.
Doing well in these events grants access to different locations, each with their own aesthetic, dangers and opportunities. Snowy mountains give way to rivers before taking you to glaciers, caves and even desserts and volcanoes. They all look good and feel distinct from each other.
This isn't a perfect game by a long shot. The Kinect controls where you lean to steer and move limbs to trigger jumps, stomps and balancing are sometimes a bit hit and miss. As I said, this gets better with practice, but you do need to invest pretty heavily to get the most out of it.
The way the achievements come thick and fast makes it clear that this is a game aimed at more casual players. However, it is probably only the more committed players - either the core gamer or those with more than a passing interest in the sport - that will have the perseverance to get past the initial stages.
Cross Board 7 recreates the sense of flow you get from a real slope.
A good thing about this though is that, like Kinect Sports you can use your 360 avatar as your character in the game. Not only does it make it easier to read the visual feedback but it also adds to the overall feel of the experience to see your hand crafted virtual self carving down the slopes.
And this is why the game works for me, it simply feels right. CrossBoard 7 recreates the sense of flow you get from a real slope. Of course, the real thing is a very different experience, but something of it has been captured here. And the slight vagueness of the Kinect controls actually work in its favour.
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