Features// Xbox 360 Kinect Launch Line-Up

Posted 4 Nov 2010 04:02 by
If you've not got an Xbox 360 Slim, you can't use your old Xbox 360 to power Kinect. No worries, it comes with its own power supply. It also comes with a manual with the kind of heft that reminded me of the old days before the rise of the PDF. It felt good. I like to read manuals.

However, in our new, accelerated society there was no time for that. Remember, we got the review unit a day before the embargo lifted. It was time for action.

Okay, so I was aware that trying to use the speech recognition before Kinect was even set-up was stupid of me.

Nevertheless I was looking forward to the kind of 'stuff' that Kudo Tsunoda had said back in September.

Back then, Kudo had told us, "Some of the stuff I've been super interested in creatively is the stuff we have in Kinect right now, where you have not only the full-body technology but being able to understand the intonation of somebody's voice and how they're saying something. Also the human recognition stuff we've built where you can step in front of the sensor and get signed into Xbox Live right away."

I was excited.

On went the Xbox 360 by conventional use and Kinect (or Wall-E as I decided to call it for a few moments) lit its little red eye as it received voltage.

Then we went through an interminable set of updates to our already updated Xbox 360.

While this was occurring I was mulling over what to put in the drive first. My colleague, Marcus, had no such qualms. Kinect Sports he had decided. Given the inevitable comparisons to the last game-changer, the Wii, and how much time we'd spent with Wii Sports, well, Wii Sports Bowling and more recently how much time we'd spent with Bocce using the PlayStation Move controllers, the choice of a first-party sports title was not only logical. It was fair.

But before I get into that, it's time to hear from senior SPOnG writer, and - it must be said usually the voice of optimism and youth in the office, Mark Johnson.

On your Mark
By Mark Johnson
I got a bad feeling about this. I mean, part of me's saying, "Hey Mark, I'm sure it'll be cool. This is just the launch line-up, and as developers get more used to developing for Kinect, they'll work it out."

But then there's the other part, the loud part that booms at me with the sort of conviction it's hard to ignore. That part's saying, "Wouldn't you rather have spent the afternoon with PlayStation Move or, even... the Wii? (Or, for that matter, any number of controller games?)" Listening to those guys arguing... it's not top.

This is because I am genuinely worried that Microsoft's jumped the shark. I'm worried that it's rushed something to market, having been terrified by what at the start of the process was the looming beast of the Wii. I'm concerned that the company that is already losing market share elsewhere in its business has spent a bunch of cash and good will on a product that just isn't that good.

And the Wii's been out for four years now! I mean, Kinect's not awful, but 129.99 is a big ask, to me at least. This is especially true when the titles I've tried seem like they'd play better on the Wii or with a pad.

Kinect Joyride is unresponsive. I did not feel in control of my vehicle. And taking away braking and acceleration seriously, what?

I only tried table tennis in Kinect Sports, but it's loads better on the Wii. Serving was baffling. For any given serve I'd throw the ball in the air anything up to eight or nine times before successfully hitting it. I also quickly realised that you don't have to actually swing to hit the ball. Simply deciding which side of me the ball was coming to and leaving my hand there was sufficient. It looked like my shots were going at different speeds and maybe maybe getting spin on them when I did actually swing for the ball, but precisely what I was doing to achieve those effects was pretty unfathomable. There was little to no fine control.

Then there's Kinect Adventures. That's a bit better. I had fun at the ball-bashy game and I can see how taking rapids in a raft using your entire body might be fun. At one point I did find myself trying to plug a leak in a glass wall that I couldn't get to because the game could adjust to the fact that there was a real life wall in my way. No I wasn't standing behind a wall - it was simply that even with 10 feet between me and the sensor, and 12 feet of width, there was still a wall to my left. Really, the whole thing felt a lot like a tech demo.
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