PowerUp Heroes Review
We feared Kinect would get used as a quick and easy way to shovel out awful kids’ games dressed up as full-priced releases. We’re sorry to say that we’re disappointed to be proven right – though we didn’t expect Ubisoft to be the ones dishing out the tat.
While you could argue that, at the very least, PowerUp Heroes is presenting a genre on Kinect that we’ve never seen before (if you really stretch the definition of the word), when it’s presented a package this fundamentally flawed and lacking in content, you have to wonder why Ubi didn’t just go down the online route. Because that’s exactly what this feels like, an XBLA game to spend five minutes throwing your arms at before moving onto an actual game.
It’s getting a bit frustrating having to wheel out the same criticisms every time a Kinect game gets a release. Like most motion control games, PowerUp Heroes doesn’t recognise your movements some of the time.
It’s also awkward to control, the gameplay’s shallow and too cheap, and it feels a bit broken. You’ve heard it all countless times before. What is interesting about PowerUp Heroes, though, is the unlikely accolade it holds – Kinect’s first beat-’em-up.
When an evil alien thing attacks earth, your avatar inherits a powerful suit granting them super powers and a range of attacks. Instead of mapping your punches and movement accurately, though, (that would be far too much of stretch) Kinect requires you perform a range of rather large gestures in order to create the required attacks.
Movement is restricted to side-stepping (by leaning) and lurching towards your foe (by lifting your knee). You’ll have access to two suits in each fight, with newer ones unlocked when you best an enemy and steal their powers. Each one comes with its own style and moves and it’s all predictably childish (such as lava suits or Iron Man look-alikes).
It’s kids stuff to be sure, but it’s also incredibly frustrating. Commands are often ignored or misinterpreted by Kinect and attacking is a slow and stilted affair.
Up close punches and blocks are made basic with onscreen prompts, your hero never moving with 1-to-1 accuracy, but stock animations. The later enemies only offer any challenge because they seem to be able to break the game’s rules and spam you with attacks.
They can certainly move faster than your character is capable of. There’re a handful of them (which get repeated with ‘X’ versions) so this is, thankfully, a relatively short-lived adventure.
It’s not long before Power Up Heroes makes you wish you had a control pad and a different game, though. When Kinect does work and attacks are registered, it’s still a clunky fighting system that’s far too basic.
That may be by design to compensate, but Kinect can barely keep up with this level of complexity, let alone anything faster or more in-depth.