|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Microsoft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 4 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: N/A||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Greig McAllister
In the world of electronic entertainment, the way a company chooses to advertise a new product can tell you a lot about that product. As a general rule, the more heavily something is advertised, the more likely it is that consumers will be disappointed with their purchase. For example, bad movies will typically be preceded by a plethora of commercials and trailers, attempting to maximize the films opening week before word gets out about its quality.
With that in mind, what exactly should consumers expect from the Kinect for Xbox 360 when its unveiling was produced by Cirque du Soleil? With high flying acrobatics, giant projector screens, and a puppet elephant, it was truly a spectacular show, but what does any of that have to do with Microsofts latest project? Scheduled for release this November at an unofficial price of $149.99, the Microsoft Kinect uses a motion-sensing camera to track the movements of the player, allowing them to use their body as the controller in a variety of party style games. This control is meant to allow the player to jump into the game with natural ease.
This natural feel appears to be Microsofts main emphasis with Kinect, trying to gain appeal with consumers. While using the Kinect, your avatar is controlled by your whole body rather than just your hands and a controller. The systems motion sensors are capable of tracking six players, with up to two active players at a time, monitoring twenty individual points of motion. Unfortunately, this translates into players having to take turns two at a time when playing avatar-based games.
There are a number of games lined up for the Kinect including Kinectimals, a game in which the player picks from one of five wild animals to raise, play with, and compete in contests with. There are also more active games, such as Kinect Sports. Kinect Sports allows players to take control of their avatar in a variety of sports such as soccer, volleyball, and track and field. There are even fitness games such as Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, that allows you to get a good workout in a fun way, while also giving you feedback to keep you motivated. However, there is a problem with gaming on the Kinect. There are only certain types of games that can be done with motion controls, meaning developers will be limited when coming up with new game concepts.
The Kinect is not just about games though. It allows its owners to control various functions using only their voice. All you have to do is say Xbox and the system will trigger and await your command. For example, in one of the trailers for the system, a family is watching a movie on their Xbox and one of them says Xbox pause to pause the movie, then resumes the film with the command Xbox play. This is just a simple example of some of the commands the system is capable of responding to. The Kinect can also serve to allow its owner to video chat with friends or enjoy a movie together, adding a social element to the system.
All this aside, there isnt much about the Kinect that is truly innovative. We have already seen motion-sensing controls from the Sony Eye Toy, and the games are similar to what weve seen from Nintendos Wii. There are free programs one can download to do both voice and video chat, and watching a movie with someone over video chat is just not the same as when they are in the room with you. Another interesting note is the price. Amazon, Best Buy, and even Microsoft have the system listed at $149.99, but Microsoft states that the price is not official and is subject to change. Basically, unless you are dead set on buying a $150 disappointment, in which case youre better off buying a Wii anyway as Nintendo has had time to work out the kinks in the system since its release, youre better off saving your money.
CCC Freelance Writer