Nintendo ushered in the use of motion gaming taking the world by storm surprising everyone in the gaming industry. Who knew that users would actually be ok with simplistic controls waving their hands around and standing to play a game? Someone at Big N did and that made the other 2 big hitters take notice too. Originally known as “Project Natal” and later renamed “Kinect” was first displayed at E3 in 2009 showing off its ability to track the human form in 3D using an infrared mapping camera, voice activated and motion controls all without the need for a conventional controller.

I was immediately impressed by what I saw in Lionhead’s “Milo” tech demo and even speculated that it could be early technology test that would be used by a later iteration of the Fable franchise (I still stand by this idea). As time moved along, I remained interested in the technology behind Kinect and as luck would have it, a friend of mine began working on a game slated for release on the Xbox that would be a Kinect title. His impressions were less than favorable making me nervous. He told me that the sensor was experienced a serious lag between what the user was doing and what the screen showed and that if so much as a cat or dog walked by, Kinect would choke up or cause issues.

I hoped that this was just because of the early nature of the system and then word came that Kinect would no longer house its own processor to map and would instead use the 360 Xenon chip. Once again, I felt somewhat letdown and was really beginning to question if I would even bother.

When the system launched 2 weeks ago, I still wasn’t sure if I’d purchase Kinect. At $149 just for the Kinect and the basic new console with 4Gb of HDD is $199, it seemed a little steep especially since I’ve recently experienced an RRoD on my console signifying that I would soon be looking to replace my system YET AGAIN(this will make it #6 or is it 7? I forget). I have to admit that I was too compelled by the futuristic concept of Kinect and spoke with my wife (another gamer) about what we should do and together we decided to jump in.

With my daughter in bed, I unpacked it and plugged it into my system allowing it to perform the necessary software install which requires 190MB of space and we launched the Kinect Tuner where it calibrates itself based on noise volume in the room and the size/shape of the environment. Once that was done, which, only took about 10 minutes; I was off to the races…errr Adventures with the bundled software Kinect Adventures (review on that to follow).

I actually found the lag my friend spoke of and that I had heard about didn’t seem to be as prevalent as I was led to believe. Perhaps it was my playing environment or the technology received an update to address the issues? Whatever the case may be, I found the whole experience to be rather enjoyable. Sadly the games available at launch were less than stellar and more geared towards people who want to work out with their Kinect or play the casual title much akin to all most software available for the Wii.

We don’t even know what hardcore gamers can look forward to as of yet but I’m confident that more core games are in the works. It’s easy to see that the future with this peripheral, if utilized correctly, is quite bright. I can imagine playing something like Call of Duty with a squad of commandos following behind me and reacting to my silent hand gestures to flank the enemy or flush them out from cover. Even knowing that Kinect has facial detection technology, I imagine that Fable 4 will somehow use this for NPC interactions. Very cool technology indeed. The future is here, the only thing we can hope for is that they use this technology the right way.

Pros:

  • Controller-less menu interaction
  • Voice activated control
  • The potential for some truly innovative experiences
  • Incredible technology – Look at the environment with through a camera with Night vision (Very cool)

Cons:

  • Price point of $149 is too high ($99 would have been the sweet spot)
  • Lackluster launch lineup (nothing to appeal to hardcore gamers)

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