Playtest: Xbox Kinect
Posted on Tuesday November 9, 2010, 17:14 by Jonny Pile in Infinite Lives
“You are the controller!” scream the ads. “It’ll change the way you interact with technology forever,” claim the techies. But is Microsoft’s Kinect really the future? Scratch that: four years after the Wii introduced motion-based gaming to the world (and not just the usual gaming world – this includes your nan), is it really going to make that much of a dent in an already saturated marketplace?
The cynics’ view is that anyone who’s remotely interested in playing games by waving their hands at their TV bought Nintendo’s console long ago. The ultra-cynical view is that they bought one, realised it wasn’t really for them and it’s been gathering dust as they spent their time working on a sofa groove and playing Call Of Duty. With a gamepad.
Microsoft disagrees, obviously, and already the stats tend to back up this confidence in Kinect. Last week the estimate they would sell 3 million units in the run up to Christmas – a figure scoffed at by so-called industry experts – was increased to 5 million. But regardless of the sales figures, which clearly look promising, the only question you should be asking yourself is, “Should I buy one?” You’re your own person, so it’s not a decision we can make for you, but there some important points to consider.
First up, it’s important to state that Kinect works and works very well at that. Complaints of lag are overstated and the accuracy with which it maps even the smallest body movements is very impressive – especially given the rudimentary motion sensing we’ve grown used to on Nintendo’s little white box. On top of that, its voice recognition is practically flawless and the face recognition seems to function almost error free. In terms of pure hardware achievement, Kinect is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.
That’s the good news. The bad news is the selection of games available at launch. If you want to dance, keep fit or raise a tiger cub on a tropical island you’re in luck. But if you’re hoping for the adult gaming experiences that Sony are gearing up to offer for its PlayStation Move (Killzone 3, Dead Space: Extraction) it’s bad news, at least for now. While developers will doubtless get better at harnessing Microsoft’s tech, the lineup at present is lacking a killer app.
But that’s not to say there’s no value or, most importantly, fun to be had. Dance Central (the best of the bunch by some distance) is a sweaty, ache-inducing blast, although we’d recommend its multiplayer mode over spending hours on the single-player career, simply for dignity reasons. YourShape: Fitness Evolved is a less manic way to burn a few calories, and Kinect Sports is basically an HD take on Wii Sports, right down to the bowling. All of which are likely to become Christmas staples for family-oriented fun.
Of course, there are games to avoid. Fighters Uncaged should have been the adult-orientated game that proved Microsoft weren’t just after the kiddie cash, but it’s an unresponsive mess that rarely copies your movements with any degree of accuracy. Joy Ride – a simplistic racer that uses an imaginary ‘wheel’ to steer – is a ten minute diversion at best.
Buying Kinect now is reminiscent of introducing people to the concept of a Wii in 2006. The novelty value, along with the fun of some of the games, is more than enough to make it a worthy £130 spent and if you already have a 360 then you’d be foolish to pass up the purchase. Whether it’s worth shelling out for if you’re a PS3 convert probably depends on what emerges from the ranks of second generation titles. Still, the first time you simply tell your 360 to turn on, and watch your friends’ amazed faces as it obeys is almost worth the price alone.
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Posted on Thursday November 11, 2010, 10:24
not for me, sure its probably great and everything but if i wanted to dance and play tennis, id dance and play tennis, give me a controller any day
Posted on Thursday November 11, 2010, 17:49
This tech is the definition of FAD. Sure, it's probably fun for a week or two (evidence from everyone I know who bought the Wii), but that's it. It's a party device in the vein of board games and such. They come out at Christmas and the whole family can take part and have a laugh. But what then? Like you mentioned, not many people feel very dignified jumping around playing these games on their own. And the titles are a huge step back in terms of content.
Another issue I don't like is that it's painting a picture that games are for chubby kids who should be getting more exercise through the medium of manic arm waving. Right in a time when gaming is really growing up and beginning to rival some movies in terms of cinematics and storytelling. This does not help the argument that games could soon be a respected medium in their own right.
I do like the idea of virtual gaming and it's a step in a cool new direction for 'some' games, not all. Maybe it will have legs in the future, but for now it's simply not worth the price tag. Reminds me of 3DTV. Which makes me think, would people want to interact with TV in the same way as these games? Dancing along with 'Strictly' or punching Gordan Ramsey in the face perhaps? While the prospect of it makes me smile, I don't it happening. TV couch potatoes and film aficionados aren't being egged into exercising while they watch, why are gamers?
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Posted on Sunday November 14, 2010, 12:24
I've managed to buy the Kinect after saving up for quite a bit, my view is that it's worth spending that much on a piece of machine. I think most people will probably end up saying it's not worth it because you can get so much more out of playing games with a controller, but here's what I say.
I've been using controllers for every console I have ever had - super NES, PS2, Xbox360. But what I found out that when you fork out £40 for a game, after a while you get bored and bored of doing the same thing over and over again. When I purchased the Kinect, I was blown away as to really enjoyable the piece of machine is, it's really simple to use, the games - yes, they are family friendly quite a lot of them but if you give them a chance you can really enjoy something to play with if you get bored with a controller pad game
People should try the kinect before they jump the bandwagon - cos the Kinect is not only revolutionary but brilliant in what it sets out to do, change the way we play games
Posted on Monday November 15, 2010, 00:37
Ummm... the last part of this feature/review is plain and simply incorrect! Kinect cannot let you "turn your 360 on"... it doesn't happen! That would mean Kinect would have to stay powered on all the time to listen for the command, and as seen as Kinect is powered from the new Xbox, that would be mean the Xbox would have to stay on all the time!
Please get all your facts right before completing something like this!
Posted on Monday November 15, 2010, 16:32
What is the craic with all these adverts???? Empireonline get it sorted!
p.s. Kinect is top of my Christmas list
Posted on Wednesday November 17, 2010, 09:48
The thing that surprised me about Kinect was that well, to be frank that it worked and worked pretty well. The set up was quick and pretty painless. It was easy to jump in and start playing the games too.
The other thing that surprised me, or would have surprised me if I believed all the Microsoft E3 adverts were how limited it was compared to what they were saying. Cast your mind back to that 1st advert for that was then known as Project Natal. We were shown a kid scanning in his skateboard and the people flicking through the on screen menus with such speed and ease. People who bought into that will be in for a rude awakening, but people with more realistic expectations will not be so shocked.
So in the box you get simple instructions, the Kinect unit, the power lead, a Wi-Fi extension cable and Kinect adventures. For those with an older style Xbox you need the power lead to plug into the mains, with the newer S model you don’t need that, the Kinect just plugs into the special USB port at the back on the console. For the none tech savvy it may be a little complicated but Microsoft try and make it as easy as possible putting pictures on the bags the leads come in.
The set up as mentioned is pretty quick. The Kinect unit can be kept either below of or on top of your T.V from a range of about 2 feet to 6 feet in height. The higher up the Kinect unit is the more accurate and less room you need (or so it say’s) mine sits below my T.V.
The set up consists of a sound test, this is where it will pick up your voice and ambient noises. It will scan the area and the layer to ensure you have enough room to play. It will also perform a facial scan so it can recognise you and assign you to your gamer tag. I would probably recommend any parents thinking of surprising the kids on Christmas day to do a set up before hand and re-box it. This way the kids can go straight at it and you don’t have to worry about keeping excited children quiet.
Posted on Wednesday November 17, 2010, 09:49
Kinect Adventures is the pack in game. The Wii Sports if you will of the Kinect. The game is broken up into different mini games. A rafting game, a stop the leaks game, a bubble burst game, a break box’s with balls game and a on rails racing game of sorts.
You can play free mode, where you pick a mini game and play. An adventure mode which mixes the 5 mini games settling various challenges the player to complete. Finally is timed mode which is similar to free play mode but with a more rigid time structure.
All the games make fine use of the camera controller. It is easy to pick up and play and know exactly what to do and how to play that mini game. Fine pretty much sums up my feeling toward this game. The novelty soon wears off. I found after 30 minutes or so play I was getting a little restless. The game works and works well picking up my movement without any real problems. I can imagine little kids getting this and being utterly amazed with it, jumping and bouncing from side to side.
Strangely the adventure mode comes with something called Living statues. These are unlocked when certain parts are passed. They feature no where else on the game and you can move and speak or even sing for about 10 seconds while the thing on screen (such as a fat hamster or your avatar in a sharks mouth) and then watch it back or post it online. These are kind of fun but make the game feel like it was thrown together from whatever Microsoft had lying around.
Through out various parts of each mini game the Kinect camera will snap pictures which it will show you at the end. These are stored and can be uploaded or browsed later for yours and others amusement.
Posted on Wednesday November 17, 2010, 10:20
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is Ubisoft’s entry to the Kinect fitness game. A game that could help you get fit and get in shape. The main focus in this game is the personal trainer section of the game. This will ask you a few quick questions before giving you a selection of fitness programs which you can select (although even though I stated I was male one of my recommended programs was to loose post natal weight!) Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines aid in some of these also.
These will have a trainer on the right of the screen showing you an exercise and you mirror what they are doing. This works pretty well most of the time and gives you limited feedback on what you are doing wrong. This at times does not go into enough depth and can be frustrated as you seemingly copy what the instructor avatar is doing but does not register you are doing it correctly.
This game really does seam like a tool that could be used to help the player loose weight. While it is not really the evolution the title claims it is defiantly a step in the right direction.
Dance Central is brought to us from the people who made the first Guitar Hero game and Rock Band. A dance game where you mirror the on screen dancer, their body parts glowing red if your own body is not in the right position. It was an interesting range of songs from Jungle Boogie to Can’t Get You Out of my Head.
This game is fun. Really good fun. It breaks down each song into chunks so it is easy to learn. The tougher routines really do get the heart pumping. While some of the moves feel a little contrived and not really like you see in the music videos it does not detract from the over all fun of the game.
Posted on Wednesday November 17, 2010, 10:21
Space seams to be a major talking point with this tech. Personally my Xbox is in my living and I stand about 7 ft back from it. I have room either side of me. I understand kids their bedrooms may not have the space needed to get the most out of this. It states on the box at least 6 foot is needed, and if you can get a stand for Kinect to fit over your T.V it may be enough. It seams it is Microsoft’s way of getting Xbox into your living room.
I want Kinect to work and be a success, it is a brave and innovative move my Microsoft. People will mock this saying it’s a gimmick People mocked Nintendo with the DS saying who wants to play with a stylus.
I was really excited to use Kinect to navigate my menus without the need of a remote or controller, sadly it is simply to slow for that. With any luck this will get quicker and more fluid in time.
Only time will tell for the Kinect. My early impressions are pretty mixed. Players who just want to play Gears of War, Halo and Call of Duty really will not find much of interest here, and doubtfully maybe ever will.
This is way more than Eye Toy mark 2, this is a serious piece of equipment that at this time is really lacking in fun and quality games. I do not see how traditional story based games are going to play just using Kinect. It may bring extra things to those types of games, where the player will give a gesture to say throw a grenade.
If you enjoy something a little different, maybe want to become more active or have children this will likely appeal to you. Everyone else may be left feeling a little cold by Kinect.
Microsoft says the future is here, I certainly hope it is partly true however I can’t help but feel that maybe it will go the way of the HD-DVD add on.