Project Natal, Microsoft’s controller-less motion sensor add-on to the xbox 360, has it’s official name at last and its Kinect. Microsoft are so excited about Kinect that they fired through all their usual line up of established brands in the first few minutes of their press conference and spent the rest solely on Kinect games.
The demonstrator man logs in to his 360 by waving at it. First up was Kinect controlling the 360′s menu system. Menus can be swished through with a flick of the wrist, you launch applications and give commands by says “XBOX [command]” so to watch a movie it’s “XBOX PLAY,” to pause “XBOX PAUSE.” No word on what happens with “XBOX DESTROY” but it’s the first one I’ll try. Next we’re shown a GIRL talking to another GIRL using Kinect. Their heavily scripted conversation features them talking about gamer scores and how the camera follows them around if they move. They watch each other watch the same movie via Kinect and say goodbye. The Internet cringes.
Next up is the first game. “Kinectimals” which instantly wins the awkward title award. A little girl interacts with an on screen pet tiger cub. It’s all very cute, she hides behind the set and “Skittles” (the tiger) presses up against the screen looking for her. When she interacts with Skittles gostly hands appear on screen to represent what she’s doing. Main presenter guy patronisingly asks for applause for the little girl despite her being a better host than he is.
Kinect Sports is up next. It’s like Wii Sports except Kinect. Some awkward running on the spot hurdles is shown. Over all it comes off as very meh. Seems to be representational of what your doing rather than a replica of your actual movements, much like pre-motion sensor Wii days. Running on the spot with no treadmill just isn’t a good way to simulate running. There’s a brief showing of “Joy Ride” a racing game where you steer with an imaginary steering wheel, again it works but looks awkward. Finally we’re given a demonstration of Kinect Adventures. Your character stands on a moving platform and you must dodge obstacles, probably the best example of your movements being transcoded onto an in game character, I have a feeling this will not be the last we see of Kinect games using the on the rails platform type model to get around the limited space you can move in.
Easily the most impressive of Kinect’s line up is Ubisoft’s “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved.” Calibrates your shape, height, length of arms etc, The demo lady takes off her jacket and her in-game self also removes a jacket. Everyone is very impressed. Basically the game gives you a series of movements to follow and then corrects you as you carry them out. It seems very intuitive and seems to be a much better fitness trainer than anything else out there.
The Harmonix develpoed “Dance Central” is a more of the same but with added dancing. More than 600 moves and 90 routines. Many routines are the same from famous music videos. The game teaches you each routine in a step by step mode called “Break it down.” A nerdy looking guy comes on stage to prove Kinect can teach everyone to dance. The internet cringes.
An untitled Star Wars Kinect game features a Jedi lightsabering his way through Stormtroopers, deflecting blaster shots and using force powers. Darth Vader arrives and the video stops just as he draws his saber. Could this finally be the lightsaber motion controlled game we’ve been waiting for? Lets just say its the most likely to be.
That was about it from Kinect at E3, we should have more from the show floor over the next two days. I’m impressed by some aspects, mainly those shown off in Your Shape: Fitness evolved. However its all too similar to the early days of the Wii, nothing but minigames with no depth. Without seeing a standard length “real” game with Kinect integration then its hard to decide on whether this really will be a must have.
Kinect will be compatable with every xbox 360 out there and released by Christmas.
Check out all of Chronic Reload’s coverage of E3 here.