Microsoft has announced their Xbox Project Natal system, a full body motion control system which we were speculating about in the run-up to E3, so it’s nice to see that not only did they announce their answer to the Nintendo Wii motion control system, but one that would certainly appear from the demonstration/concept videos to go well beyond it!
It’s been around 2 years or more since I first started thinking “why don’t Microsoft just come up with a Wii remote-style controller? — surely it’s not that hard to do?” Well, it would appear that they had larger plans for their Xbox 360 console than simply copying the Wii!
Assuming this all works as it appeared to in the concept videos below when it’s finally released (which they hope it will and are apparently not far off from now), not only have they removed the need to hold a controller altogether, opened up and made the movement sensors much more accurate and precise, but will also be providing a system which can interpret what it sees, recognise and respond appropriately!
Since there is no controller required for this system, so how does it work? Well, Microsoft is using some custom technology including a 3D depth camera that also uses facial and voice recognition all integrated into a single small box which is placed above or below your TV.
A system such as the Xbox Project Natal full body motion controller could not only provide true competition to the Nintendo Wii in the casual/party gaming market (with vastly better graphics thanks to the Xbox 360 superior hardware), but also offer developers the chance to really innovate in terms of the types of games we might see in the coming years – just take a look at what Peter Molyneux’s Lionhead studios have done in just a few months with their Project Natal – “Milo” Artificial Intelligence – does anyone else think that Fable 3 or 4 will be using this technology given half the chance?
No word on when we can expect to see this in our living rooms just yet, so it’ll be 2010 at very earliest, however perhaps this will help to extend the life of the current Xbox 360 console as interestingly Microsoft have said:
“Natal will work with every Xbox 360 we’ve sold and every Xbox in the future. We can leap into the future of interactive entertainment without launching a new console.”
Anyway, enough of me trying to put this into words, just take a look at the following videos about the Xbox Project Natal full motion controller, see what you think to this and then leave a comment below, do you think this could be an important step for the future of gaming, especially for the casual gaming market that Nintendo seems to have sewn up right now, should this have Nintendo worried about their successful Wii drying up? Can Microsoft beat them at their own game?
Xbox Project Natal Trailer
Peter Molyneux Talks Project Natal (E3 2009)
Release Date & Price Announcement
A release date and price has apparently been unofficially announced for the Xbox 360 motion control system; Project Natal and I have to say I’m quite surprised by them, it will be released at a price of around £50 and has a release date of November 2010 – I personally thought it would be a lot more than this, so if true, this is great news from Microsoft!
When Xbox 360’s Project Natal motion control system is released there will be 14 games available, but nothing yet on whether any of these will be AAA titles. Lionhead has been working on the Project Natal AI kids known as Milo and Kate so could this be a possible launch title? From what I’ve seen of it, it looks impressive and is one of the many reasons I bought an Xbox 360. However, not everyone feels the same as one of our writers here at Zath, thinks the AI Milo could be bad for kids.
No doubt the majority of the release titles will be third party games as is usually the case with peripherals such as this. But with giants such as Activision, Capcom, EA, and Square Enix to name a few, creating games specifically for Natal, it makes me think we’re about to see something really special.
I know that Peter Molyneux has said that parts of Fable 3 will work with Project Natal which could make it interesting. But what about a new Halo without a controller? It could be fun using your arms to control an invisible gun and lobbing grenades from thin air, or maybe even driving around Liberty City on the next GTA game with an imaginary steering wheel.
So what are your views on Project Natal? Will it stick to that release date and price? Do you think it’s going to be one of the best peripherals so far on any console, something fun and worth the money, or just another pointless gimmick? Let us know in the comments below.
Via – Eurogamer
Danny ‘Ender’ Martin has been part of the Zath team from pretty much the very beginning since he met Zath himself at Leeds Met University whilst studying Business IT. He’s an avid gamer and a big film buff. Danny graduated from the University of Bradford with a degree in Computer Animation and SFX and now currently works at one of the biggest UK games developers, which will hopefully see some of his ideas hit the gaming world.