Yesterday I attended the Sega event in New York City and I had a pretty darn good time. There were a huge variety of games on display there (many of them hands-on) including Sonic 4, Sonic Free Riders, Virtua Tennis 4, Conduit 2, Shogun 2: Total War, Vanquish, Sonic Colors, Yakuza 4, Kingdom Conquest, Crazy Taxi, and Chu Chu Rocket. There was a lot to see, but of course we want to hone in on the titles that actually had co-op! When I originally arrived, I only expected to find co-op in Conduit 2, but much to my delight I found that Sonic Free Riders and Shogun 2: Total War also have co-op modes! Expect some information about Conduit 2 later this month (I can't write about it just yet), but there's plenty to talk about regarding Sonic Free Riders and Shogun 2.
Sonic Free Riders:
All right, so this was actually the first time that I played a game using the Kinect, and I have to say I didn't perform too admirably. You lean forward and backward to control the direction of your board, you jump to get extra air time on jumps, and you waggle your hands like a frantic child to shake rings out of cans you pick up. Yes, you do look pretty special, but it was actually a pretty fun time.
There are five game modes (plus a tutorial mode) in Sonic Free Riders. Non-co-op modes include World Grand Prix (single-player story mode), Time Attack (you can upload your best times to Xbox Live), and Free Race (competitive mode which has Normal Race, Ring Collection, and Damage Survival submodes). There's a co-op specific mode called Tag Race. Players start in splitscreen, but can join hands to fuse boards and power up which increases their speed. The challenge arises in learning how to turn and jump together. Sometimes you are necessarily required to fuse together, other times you must initialize it yourselves. the last mode is Relay Race which can be 2-4 player co-op or 2v2 competitive. It's a tag-team mechanic, so player 1 does one lap, then jumps out at the end and player 2 jumps in. For all modes, co-op is local only, and online play only supports one player on a console at a time.
Sonic Free Riders is due out Nov. 4th.