Microsoft have finally released their much vaunted Kinect to compete directly with the Wii and Sony’s Move. The major selling point is the fact that you no longer have to hold a controller and essentially control the XBOX 360 with your body and voice. It’s innovative, and could change the way we play games, but is it really as good as it seems?
The technology really is amazing if you think about it. Using a RGB camera and depth sensor to track your movement, and measuring dozens of key points on your anatomy, it estimates exactly what position you are in, and also with the depth sensor can sense you in 3D.
Additionally, a built-in microphone monitors your voice allowing you to control the XBOX with simple voice commands!
It is revolutionary, and the technology has far wider implications than mere video games once it is perfected, but the key for the success of the Kinect is whether the v1.0 works as well as players will like, or will it just simply end up on the shelf collecting dust as gamers flock back to the traditional controller?
The first thing to realize is that not all game manufacturers have embraced the Kinect, in fact some major developers have simply ignored it – for example, Fable III has limited Kinect capability. To try and make things easier for you, Microsoft have introduce a color system – if the game case is purple then it REQUIRES Kinect, if its green then it doesn’t. Now to confuse you even more, some games will be work with standard controllers but will be labeled ‘Better with Kinect’.
Well depending on how you buy it, the Kinect varies in price. The best deal is to buy a new XBOX 360 bundled with the Kinect – these range from $299, to $399 (or more with games included). The Kinect itself ranges from $150 – $200, but at the moment is sold out so you’ll have to run on over to eBay to get one. This seems steep, considering you can get standard controllers for about $20, but when you consider that the Kinect can connect up to six players at the same time (only two active at once) , then it does seem to be well priced – the Sony Move retails for $40, so to get the same number of players you’ll spend $240.
Ease of Setup
Depending on which XBOX 360 you have, the method of connecting is slightly different. The new models have a connection for you Kinect that also powers it. Older models allow you to use the USB ports, but you’ll also have to plug the Kinect into a wall socket.
You want to set the Kinect up on top of your TV if possible, and leave at least 5 feet for it to be able to detect you – you really want to have a lot of space if possible, especially when playing with two players.
The actual setup process is simple and even the most un-educated video game player will have it up and running in now time!
Kinect Menu System
The Kinect comes with its own menu that lets you access all the groovy features of the Kinect; now that you have the Kinect connected, you get to experience the thrill of moving around the menus without a controller – that is a really thrilling experience, although it does take a little time to get used to. The system begins to work straight away, and once you’ve used it, it recognizes your face and logs you into you account – cool or wot!
I’m sure some people will still navigate with the standard controller, but it’s really fun to start using the Kinect and get used to the ‘no controller’ method!
Now the beauty about the system is that you don’t have to use the Kinect – many will probably find it quicker simply to use the controller and they can!
Lag and accuracy
Probably the biggest problem gamers are going to face is the lag and accuracy; there is a minute lag from the moment you do a ‘movement’ to when your onscreen avatar moves – while is most Kinect games this isn’t a major problem, this may stop many developers from making their games ‘Kinect’ compatible, especially action games that require precise movement and no ‘lag’ – this includes online games that really require precision – and a delay, even if minute can mean the difference between life and death.
This means that the Kinect really does become more of a family game, and most hardened gamers won’t touch it until the precision and lag is as good as the regular controller – this is a huge problem for Microsoft and one that needs to be fixed in the next generation.
However, if you take a look at some of the games, the lag really doesn’t make a difference – a lot of games involve you mirroring an on screen avatar (such as Dance Central) and therefore lag becomes irrelevant. Additionally, games like Tiger Woods Golf are not effected by lag. Also, one of the biggest type of games coming out for the Kinect are fitness related games, so it becomes a moot point for casual gamers more interested in getting fit!
Accuracy is a different matter – the Kinect I not going to map out your movements exactly, not until the next version at least, so you really have to learn how to get the best out of the Kinect, and develop ways in which the accuracy doesn’t become a problem. It does take time, and to be honest if you’re not coordinated in life, then this could pose a problem for you – the Kinect takes hand-eye coordination to the next level.
There is a large learning curve involved, but for the casual gamer it is worth it in the end.
This was the most exciting part of the Kinect for me, and I was hoping that the Kinect would make the whole multi-media system be more intuitive for me. I was impressed with the voice recognition, and some of the games are definitely improved by the interaction you can have by simply talking.
The voice controls of DVDs, and other multi-media are very impressive, however I wonder how many people will simply throw their XBOX DVD controller away – it’s really is just as easy to use the remote control – it’s cool and all that, but occasionally the voice recognition doesn’t quite work perfectly and sometimes when you meant to pause a video it does something entirely unexpected.
I’d say that for the casual gamer whose never really been into the XBOX 360 system this is a boon – it makes the games more fun and definitely will appeal to families. The hardened gamer is definitely going to be disappointed as the lack of total accuracy and more importantly the lag will definitely be frustrating.
Some of the voice features are really cool and the Kinect is definitely a nice addition to the system, making the XBOX 360 more like a HD Wii, but there are a few problems that need to be ironed out before this is a winner.