I was quite excited when I first starting reading about Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect. A motion controller gaming system without the actual controller sounded like futuristic stuff and ever since it was first announced to the world as Project Natal, it was something I just had to have, it really came across as actual future technology that until then you’d only seen in sci-fi movies.
I was excited when I did finally got my hands on Kinect after we’d already seen a Xbox Kinect/Project Natal Preview, even more so through the setup as it felt strange not to be using a controller apart from my very own hands to lead the way.
One you’ve got the Kinect connected up to your Xbox 360, you’ll go throught the setup process in which you’ll be asked to stand in your best position in your allocated room to see if you’re in spot where Kinect can read your body movements. There are two zones, good and best, and unfortunately because of where my sofa is, I had to settle for the ‘good’ zone.
The down sides to the “good zone” was that I was unable to play a two player game with another person or take advantage of Kinect’s facial recognition. Although, this didn’t stop from jumping straight in and throwing myself around the room.
General Use & Features
After the setup, whenever you turn on your Xbox 360 you will see a small grey box in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. This is what Kinect can see and whenever you move your hands they glow white on screen, then just wave your hand and the glow will turn purple and activate Kinect and bring up the Kinect Hub.
There are some nice touches to Microsoft’s new peripheral like voice commands which you are only able to use on the Xbox dashboard. So if you want to start a game, you give the command ‘Xbox’ followed by the next command ‘Kinect’ which then brings up the Kinect Hub.
From there you just need to say the command ‘Play Disc’ and you’re game will load up. Similar commands are used to launch the Xbox Sky Player, Zune etc all from the Kinect Hub, but I see these as merely an nice extra rather than a necessity for Kinect users as I found it quicker to use my controller to start the game.
Also, you can use Kinect for in-game chat without the need for a headset and trash talk your friends on the other end which is quite handy.
However, whilst playing the games I realised that there was a slight lag to my movements and that is wasn’t true 1:1 which was a little disappointing. There would be times throughout either Kinect Adventures or Kinect Sports where the movement I did, didn’t appear on screen or my avatars legs decided to flail about all over the place.
For example, jumping whilst playing Kinect Adventures didn’t respond properly which was a tad irritating. Whether this had anything to do with me standing in the ‘good’ zone is unclear, but this shouldn’t be a problem as Kinect should respond just as well in both zones.
Overall, I’m impressed with the potential of what Kinect can accomplish. The motion sensor is impressive but still seems to lack to 1:1 accuracy that would that bit more immersive – it does make you wonder whether dropping the Kinect’s hardware CPU chip for data processing and using a software method to move this task to the Xbox 360 itself has anything to do with this? Or is this just a software issue that can be improved with subsequent software updates?
From my early experiences of a couple of its release titles, my excitement quickly dwindled leaving me with average playing experiences but still fun, especially party-style gaming when you have friends round. However, once the bigger AAA titles starting appearing things will really pick up and my excitement will surely be rekindled.
All that said, I highly recommend buying an Xbox Kinect motion controller to enhance your Xbox 360 experience, but for now it is more of a party game peripheral to rival the to play with your mates for a good laugh.
4 out of 5
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.