November 8, 2010

498 words 3 mins read

Kinect is fun!

Last week the Xbox Kinect was released… and I got one. I ended up getting the Xbox 360 S 250 GB with Kinect bundle because I’ve been gunning for a new Xbox for a while (Editor’s note: Basically, since I got my Xbox Elite with HDMI a couple years ago). As soon as the new Xbox 360 S was announced, I pre-ordered one, but canceled it because I just didn’t need a new Xbox. Later, I also pre-ordered the Xbox 360 S Reach bundle, but again canceled that one because it seemed like overkill and I wasn’t too sure how Reach would turn out. Finally, the Kinect arrives, and I figured it was about time.

I hadn’t followed much of the Kinect news up until last week. It was another motion controller, big deal, right? Well after checking into it a bit more, I became intrigued. The Kinect is actually a fairly impressive piece of hardware and software technology combined into a commodity product. It’s got a web cam, an accelerometer (not sure what for), 3D Audio, 3D radar (effectively), a motor, and a few more little pieces. Then on the software side they’ve done a good job putting together all that information into an accurate 3D representation of yourself (transposed on to your avatar of course). Microsoft even went as far as putting in facial recognition software so the Kinect could figure out who was playing without needing the user to sign in.

I got the bundled deployed and dumped in Kinect Adventures, the first party games that come with the Kinect (much like Wii Sports). The Adventure games aren’t quite as good (or as plentiful) as the Wii versions, but they are still fun. More importantly the games do a great job of showing off the power of the Kinect as a viable controller technology. They give you plenty of on screen instructions so there is no guessing as to what you need to do. The only issue is, and you’ll find this in most reviews, you really do need a bunch of open space in front of your TV. This isn’t a problem for me since I’m a bachelor and don’t have fancy things like coffee tables in the way. If you have actual living room furniture, you’ll need to move it before Kinect-ing. Annoying yes, but also much less dangerous.

After playing Kinect Adventures for a day, I went out and bought Kinect Sports and Kinect Joy Ride (aka Racing). I really want to see what some other actual game games would be like using the Kinect, and I was pleased with what I saw. I’ll do more in depth reviews of the games later, but I do have one bit to share. Ever played a racing game and found yourself leaning into the turns in a sub-conscious attempt to help your car? Normally, that doesn’t do anything but make you feel better. With the Kinect? The console actually DOES respond to your leaning.