Review by TheBendy
Reviewed: 02/23/11 | Updated: 02/24/11
Worth The Wait! Completely Playable!
Well, it's a bowling game, so there's not much of a story. The story that is there consists of doing events in career mode. Career mode includes: league bowling, tournament bowling, the spares challenge, rival challenges, and practice. Leagues can be a bit slow going, as they play out as 4 vs. 4. You can choose whether or not you want humans or the cpu to control any given player(s). In other words you could have the computer bowl for your team, and vice versa. And yes, controlling half your teams bowlers and half the cpu's bowlers is possible as well. I use the spares challenge mainly for practice. The game will present the player with increasingly difficult spares to clean up. Getting good at this mode definitely helps increase your skills for all bowling modes. Rival challenges are player vs. cpu 1 on 1's. This is my favorite mode to play in the career, and it offers the most unlockables for progressing/beating opponents.
The graphics in this game are top notch for Kinect games. It blows away Kinect Sports Bowling in terms of visuals. Instead of avatars, this game uses realistic human character models. Plenty of detail was given to the actual bowling venues, as well. Reflections can be seen on floors, and the instant replays really give the user about as much of a sense of "wow" as possible in a bowing game. Alleys vary alot in presentation too. There's a two laned railroad themed alley, a neon "techno" themed alley, etc. The graphics that appear on the display screens after getting a strike or spare look almost movie quality, at times. Bottom line, the graphics in this game are sure not to disappoint anyone.
The gameplay is very similar to the bowling in Kinect Sports. You just pull your arm back, then forward to release like before. The aiming arrow is always straight out by default. Just sidestep to line the arrow up with the pin(s) you want to hit, then bowl it. New to Brunswick Pro Bowling is the ability to "fine" aim. To do this, the user lifts their non bowling arm up shoulder length high. Then, they move that arm left or right to aim their shot accordingly. Lastly, they drop that arm, once the shot is lined up how they want it. This works well for players who prefer to remain central, and not sidestep to bowl. So, how does this work? Well, say I'm lined up dead center with what would have been the head pin, and the only pin remaining is the one to the far left. I could use "fine" aim to line the arrow up diagonally towards that pin. Now, if I bowl as normal, (pull back, and follow through), the ball will head diagonally towards that pin rather than straight out. Also new to Brunswick Pro Bowling is "Oil Patterns". You can now select "Oil Pattern" from the pause menu. Oil pattens vary from very forgiving to extremely difficult. Difficult oil patterns will require fancier shoots to hit the desired pins. Both ball and equipment used, as well as hooking come into play here. Just bowling straight on a difficult oil pattern will not produce a good result. The difficulty/amount of lane oil is determined by color. Green represents easy/light oil; yellow represents medium difficultly and amount of oil; red represents hard/heavy amount of oil on the lane. Throwing a "hook" works just the same way as it did in Kinect Sports Bowling. To hook, the user must pull their arm across their body during the follow through. I find that this feature works alot better in this game than it did in Kinect Sports Bowling. In this game, I have to intentionally pull my arm across my body to get it to hook. Whereas, in Kinect Sports Bowling, it seemed to happen accidentally all of the time. When competing against the computer, you can skip their turns. This is easier said than done, as you must be really quick about it! To skip the cpu's turn, you must place your hand over the green ball that says "skip cpu", and wait for the circle to fill. This must be done on the cpu's first bowl attempt, or it's too late. Anticipating the cpu's turn(s) and placing your hand in the correct spot ahead of time really works wonders for skipping the current and subsequent players. To skip subsequent players, just keep your hand in the same spot over "skip cpu" until it is your time. You'll get good at it with a little practice, and should not have to watch the cpu bowl, if you don't want to.
**Glitches**: This game has a few minor glitches, nothing game breaking. At times, the ball won't release during follow through. It doesn't happen often, and is usually the result of trying to snap/release the ball too late. Also, sometimes the bowler's arm seems to jitter around a bit during follow through. While this looks quirky to the user, it almost never affects the way the ball travels once it is released. Ever rarer still, is the fact that occasionally some pins will fall late in an unbelievable manner. Like most other Kinect games, this game is less likely to glitch if you're playing alone. Multiple people in the same room, taking turns standing in front of the Kinect sensor, is far more likely to create glitches than when playing alone. Bottom line: this game is far less glitchy than Kinect Sports Bowling was.
I have no complaints about the sounds in this game. The ball rolling down the lane sounds realistic, as does the sound it makes when it crashes into the pins. The music is neither good nor bad, just average. For the most part, I find myself not paying much attention to it. The one thing I feel this game is lacking in this area, is celebration music for getting strikes. There is none; only graphics on the display screen will be shown. This is, in my opinion, the only thing that kept this bowling game from beating Kinect Sports Bowling in every category.
Online matches consist of 1-4 players, every man for himself. In other words, there are no teams. The top scoring bowler will win the match. You can see where your bowler stands at any time by opening the Kinect guide, and clicking on "stats". Stats keeps track of total wins, total games played, and overall average. As with all online games, it's best to play with friends only to avoid rage quits.
If you like bowling, chances are you'll be playing this alot. It isn't perfect, but it's by far the best bowling game Kinect has to offer. My friends have been dropping by like crazy to play this game. There is enough content to keep busy for awhile, especially when you include the "Pro Tour", "World Tour", and "Expert League Championship" game modes. Furthermore, there's all kinds of stuff to unlock at the pro shop, by playing through career mode. You can purchase these unlocked items for wear, both customizing the look and attributes of your bowler.
This game does many things right, with almost no missteps (save for no celebration music). I feel that this game was delayed for the Xbox 360 for a reason. That reason was to make sure that it was a better, more playable game than the versions released for PS3 and Wii. The end result was a success! I've played this game on each of those other systems, and this version dominates!
There are only 12 achievements in this game, with only 4 being any challenge at all. Those 4 are: Online Match Winner (beat someone in a match on Xbox Live), Pro Tournament Champion (finish pro tournament in 1st place), World Tournament Champion (finish world tournament in 1st place), and Expert League Champion (finish an expert league in 1st place.) All of the other achievements can be unlocked quickly, just by playing through career mode. In fact, most if not all of them will unlock just by beating rivals in career mode. That being said, this game is pretty much an achievement hunter's dream.
Rent or Buy?: 10/10 (BUY)
Definitely buy. Games like this are so easy to pick up and play. My Mom hasn't played a video game since Space Invaders for the Atari 2600. She learned how to play in under 5 minutes, and now she always wants to come over and play it. You will be glad you have this game in your collection when a bunch of casual or nongamers show up at your house. This game has appealed to and been playable for everyone who has given it a try thus far.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Brunswick Pro Bowling (US, 02/15/11)
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