Features// Xbox 360 Kinect Launch Line-Up

Posted 4 Nov 2010 04:02 by
Nor, from my experience with Kinect Joy Ride, it is aimed at Forza or Blur fans either. In fact, it's not even aimed at Mario Kart or ModNation Racers.

Pulses Racing
Having previously left Marcus and a younger member of staff to bowl with the most downhearted looking avatars I've ever seen - for an hour or so. I set the 'review' rota in action and returned to the Kinect room with Mark for a crack at Joyride.

I love kart games. I mean, I genuinely love them. I loved F-Zero and that wasn't even a kart game; nor was Blur and I loved that. As for Sonic & Sega All-Stars , I loved that to bits.

They're not hardcore titles (well, maybe Blur), they are the kind of fun games that footballers play with their families.

Joy Ride, sadly, has found new ground in between casual and not-hardcore. I'm going to call it CasUCore or maybe CashCore. There is every chance that this is exactly the kind of driving game that the huge numbers of people who have never played a video game in their lives have been waiting for.

It is unworldly because you have no sense of connection with it. That's common to CasUCore games. It is not difficult to do, but then again, it's not satisfying either. You can see that your actions should be having some effect on proceedings, they just take their time. All finesse and difficulty has been removed - ideal for newcomers I understand that. But - and the same can be said for table tennis and soccer in the Sports title - all the actual involvement that I expect as a gamer has been divorced from the experience.

Joy Ride's handling (pretend to hold a non-existent steering wheel) is too unwieldy and inaccurate. Going into a drift, for example, that's usually one of the those little triumphs that comes with getting used to a kart; the way it accelerates and brakes, the way the steering works. These things have to be learned and once learned, honed. With Joy Ride there is no learning. Because you don't get to accelerate or brake, and your steering often sees you looking away from the screen, there is no learning curve.

On the upside, the boosting technique felt at first to be a great idea and showed off Kinect's depth perception to a fine degree. You pull your entire body back until a power meter fills up and then you thrust forward. Good idea.

I felt hope. The hope in the fact that Kinect so obviously and so easily did observe me moving forward and back.

Tricking, however, is distinctly underwhelming and also somewhat disconcerting. There are two or three reasons to trick in a good kart game:
Reason 1: get points.
Reason 2: get a boost.
Reason 3: watch yourself doing a cool trick.

Reason 3 falls away with Joy Ride as, for most of the time, tricking either means that you're looking away from the screen or that you are leaning slightly, bored watching a trick that you've really had very little control over.

As for the two-player mode. Unless you are absolute bestest friends in the world and you have practiced being driver and co-driver (helps you to trick) as much as you've practiced your JLS dance moves, I didn't get it.

Now, before I move on. Let's hear from our beloved 'Girl Gamer', Lizzee 'Pocket Frenzy'.

Girl's Eye View
By Pocket Frenzy
Welcome to the future - but let's start with the past. Specifically let's start with what I see as the obvious motivation for Kinect's existence. Wii - is now appears, after Move and now Kinect, was a genuine game-changer. However, after the initial marketing explosion, the Wii was a damp squib for gamers.

In general and with hindsight, and with the partial exception of Mario Kart (as it was better on the SNES) and as I'm certain you agree with these facts, I shall go on.

The simple fact is that the Wii has made a "metric shit load" of money specifically for its first-party - and then eBay made a load of money too; everyone was a winner. Or at least Nintendo and eBay were.

Roll on a couple of years to circa now and the release of Kinect for the 360. Lo! Upon the desk! A Sports game where I have to bowl, play tennis, and now (so thrilling!) kick a football (or a 'soccer' to Americans).

First things first, the SPOnG team told me that I would have to come to it fresh. This part was relatively easy as I've just returned from two weeks on an island with no Internet (seriously). They all had a day with the system. They told me nothing about the unit. I am an Xbox 360 user of old. But I approached Kinect (and had to get it working) just like any casual, happy family member would...

This is where the 'stand in front and it logs you in' bit didn't come off. I don't have a login on the SPOnG review Xbox 360. So, I had to pretend to be SPOnG's login and rescan (or rather let Kinect scan) myself. This suggests to me that everybody in the household is going to have to have their own profile set-up on the single, happy family Xbox 360.

There first image I see of myself is in ghostly grey, hands glowing in white or purple. It looks like a rave in Victorian London. This alone keeps me entertained for several minutes, but once I realise I haven't got a clue how to sign in and get playing the claustrophobia is almost unbearable.

I knows that it has voice recognition and that you control it with your hand. So there I am struggling with it and shouting commands at it in faux-American accents. (?Xbox! Fuck off? is a command, isn't it?)

Roused by my shouting, a more knowledgeable player (Tyrion for SPOnG regulars) steps in and instructs me. I get in, play games... but then how do I change games? Both myself and Tyrion now stand or sit waiting for the sluggish recognition of a hand in a certain area; bemoaning having to go through a tedious series of 'back' buttons before changing from volleyball to table tennis.

Mortality
My own feeling of ennui was only surpassed by my avatar's which, possibly weighed down by the sense of deja vu, slump-shouldered and saggy-kneed his way through a sequence of mini games, full games and party games, just about managing not to kill himself, even when the crowd stopped rapturously applauding after his 70th saved goal.

The controls are incredibly frustrating. The sensors seemed to jerk and wobble to an unknown, possibly Parkinson's-riddled spectre that aped my movements cruelly, making me aware of my own inevitable mortality.
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Comments

DoctorDee 4 Nov 2010 05:55
1/12
I've been a skeptic about Kinect since I first heard about it. Well, not since I very first heard about it, back when it was all smoke and mirrors and magnificent pseudo-technical promise and Milo. Back then I was all wide eyed wonderment, and anticipation. Back then I was ready to have my paradigms realigned? much like you need your wheels doing after you kerb them particularly badly.

Then I saw the early videos, and it became clear that Microsoft had much more of an idea than a product. The early press videos showed things happening on screen before the user moved. Effect before cause, and I began to suspect that Microsoft had cracked the mirror, and was blowing the smoke up my ass. Then I became a cynic.

So I'd love to tell you that within minutes of unboxing the Kinect, I was a convert. All my nay-saying evaporated as hit strike after strike in Kinectisports Bowling. All my cynicism washed away as as I played with Tim's Dick. I refer, of course, to his Kinectimal? a Black Panther named Richard. Tim loves Dick.

Yes, reader, I'd LOVE to tell you that. But that's just because I love lying.

If instead, I tell you the truth? Kinect is rubbish. Absolute and utter crap. It's nicely packaged, beautiful piano-black well-constructed crap that I would be happy to have in my lounge. Not that my lounge is big enough for two of us to play simultaneously.

That's not to say it won't make metric shedloads of cash for Microsoft this "holidays" buying season.

What your first look failed to mention is that Kinect lacks any finesse. It does not have face detection, so it cannot tell one user from another. It does not have any real hand detection, so it cannot tell what position or attitude your hand is at - which is why the table tennis is so laughably poor. It does not have a way to indicate when you want to release a bowling ball, so it makes that decision for you, it cannot tell what you are doing with your hand at the time it makes this decision, to spin has to be applied by wafting your hand from left to right or vice versa AFTER the ball is dispatched. The kart game realises in a way that Motorstorm apparently doesn't, that no one wants to play a racing game stood on one leg, so it accelerates and brakes for you. WTF!?

The truth is Kinect is so far from the capabilities that were touted in its vapourware phase it is actually a joke. The unit is not capable of much more than an EyeToy either can do today, or could be made to do with a bit of clever software.

The idea that Kinect in its current form will be used in corporate presentations is actually a joke. Because businessmen generally do not like to make themselves look like cocks in front of potential clients or their peers. The Minority Report aping interface control is incredibly poor on Kinect. Because it cannot recognise what your fingers are doing, or detect subtle depth cues, you cannot "tap" on an button. Instead you have to hover over a button while a timer detects that you are paused, and activates it. This makes it incredibly slow and frustrating as a control method. Because it has no "homing" for the cursor, although it is very accurate it is also massively approximate, so all the buttons have to be reasonably massive, making the interfaces look toy-town.

Microsoft has been cajoled, seduced and harangued by its own insecurities into launching a Wii competitor to access that formerly inaccessible (to it) market - the casual gamer. And who knows? Kinect may succeed with this unfathomable demographic. But at 100 plus, this is going to leave a lot of gamers feeling abused.
PaulRayment 4 Nov 2010 10:13
2/12
"Hey, Gamestation. Remember that deposit you said was refundable?"

"Of course we do"

"I want it refunded"

"But you could always sell it on Ebay before Christmas and make some money"

"Oh, OK, I'll do that"
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PaulRayment 4 Nov 2010 10:17
3/12
On a more serious note (kinda). This is a huge disappointment. It's like Natal and Kinect are two different products and due to all the future speak regarding Natal, Kinect is dated before it's been released.

For the same price of Kinect I could pick up Fabel 3, COD Black Ops and FIFA 11.

I know it's clear it isn't aimed at the type of gamer that wants those three games but I so wanted Kinect to work for me, as cool tech if nothing else. I've been an Xbox gamer way before the 360 and I'm gutted I won't be able to get the full experience. The biggest problem is the space, without moving home I won't ever have the space.

:-(((
CB 4 Nov 2010 10:49
4/12
"Minority Support"? That's a Freudian slip if ever there was one.
Tim Smith 4 Nov 2010 11:35
5/12
CB wrote:
"Minority Support"? That's a Freudian slip if ever there was one.


It was... or was it? No, you're right, it was... email me for your "SPOnG Freudian Spotter" prize (a statuette of a Mini Ninja this week).

Cheers

Tim
tim@spong.com
deleted 4 Nov 2010 11:54
6/12
I am very upset with Kinect, no sorry with Microsoft, They finally had a strong place in the market giving us some great games and powerful hardware and the promises of Natal were shoved down our orifices and I for one took them, now it seems we are s**tting Kinect!, i have cancelled my preorder and i will buy when software is developed that

1. allows me to play in a small space
2. is enjoyable and fun
and
3. is worth paying 130.00 for a motion sensing camera.

and

@DoctorDee, your post is amazing, it speaks complete truth and if only the reviewers will reflect this too.
alexh2o 4 Nov 2010 14:12
7/12
Well I still think Kinect is pretty cool and I reckon everyone is being a little harsh on it! I think, and Microsoft is to blame here a little, there's too much expectation and people are taking for granted all the cool stuff it is doing. Its like seeing a movie thats been bigged up so much it turns out to be a disappointment, but when the dust had settled and you think back, its actually a pretty good film.

The majority of complaints all centre around familiarity. People are used to tactile feedback - now they will need to adapt to visual or audio feedback. They find navigation or use confusing - like any new anything, Im sure once people are used to it, its much more fluid. etc

Then theres issues around price and space. Whenever a new console comes out its very expensive - out of the price range of most - but it comes down and you buy when its the right price for you. If its too expensive now, just wait! When the 360 itself launched, people waited for a drop in price, they didnt say 'oh its not worth it' and decide never to get one... Regarding the space requirements, if you dont have the room then dont get it! Its unfortunate but thats life. If you cant fit a 50" TV in your room, you just dont get one, and you dont start criticising it for being too big.

Maybe its just me, but I think Kinect is genuinely different to any gaming experience Ive had previously and I like where its at. Within a year Im sure the software will be updated, the price will be a lot less, and the game devs will be making better games... and the majority of complaints now will be forgotten!
deleted 4 Nov 2010 14:46
8/12
@alexhooren
When the 360 itself launched, people waited for a drop in price, they didnt say 'oh its not worth it' and decide never to get one...


Problem is it isnt `really a console` its a mid/end of life filler, and when will we see a price drop? possibly never going on the pricing of MS accessories

If you cant fit a 50" TV in your room, you just dont get one, and you dont start criticising it for being too big.


No you buy the 40" or 32" or even 26" TV how do we do that with Kinect? do we get Move? Wii? as the space limitations are simply as long as your arm swings. and the thing is i can fit 50" in my Games room, I can fit 200" if I like as i have the vertical and horizontal to do that, but for Kinect I need depth too and that's where the problem comes in.



DoctorDee 4 Nov 2010 15:09
9/12
haritori wrote:
i have cancelled my preorder and i will buy when software is developed that

1. allows me to play in a small space


This is the one that really freaks me out. I can understand the lack of ability to recognise hand movements, simply because a high enough res sensor would raise the price too much. But why not use a wider angle lens, or - like Move - one with two (or more) zoom positions. My lounge is a reasonable size, but it's arranged with a cabinet beneath the wall mounted 55" LED TV, and Kinect would need to be at the front of that. At the other side of the room is a radiator, and in front of that a couch... leaving nowhere near enough room to Kinect in.

My movie room is much more Kinect sized. But I use an HD projector - so no light, so no Kinect.

I personally think Kinect is a big damp squib. But even if I didn't, my house simply cannot accommodate it... and I live in a reasonably large house.
deleted 5 Nov 2010 01:40
10/12
Problem Solved!! just got the phoen with MS tech support and here is their advice for small rooms.

"Simply place the TV in the Garden and stand in next doors garden, obviously after illegally removing his/her fencing, and using his/her outdoor electrical supply to run a 40 meter cable (99.99 for official XBOX emerald coated 40m extension lead) to the TV, XBOX and Kinect as well as any required sound amp placing speakers in the correct locations, you should now be able to watch any Movie you like and use you whole body to pause or play! please note when wishing to play games follow these additional; instructions option a or option b but not both,

Option A, Paint your body green (39.99 Official XBOX Paint) and make sure you are positioned 45.6 degrees north of the Eiffel Tower, Kinect should now recognise you and upto 3/4 of a second player.

Option B, Wait 10 years until technology can follow what we promise.

Thank You For Contacting MS Support."
DoctorDee 5 Nov 2010 07:28
11/12
PaulRayment wrote:
"But you could always sell it on Ebay before Christmas and make some money"

"Oh, OK, I'll do that"

Remember, of course, eBay's new fee structure:

Final value Fee = What you sold it for - (what it cost you * 110%)

Add in listing fees and PayPal fees and you'll be done up like a kipper. Running failed gubernatorial races is not cheap! Especially not if you are as profligate as Meg Whitman.
anon 28 Nov 2010 03:22
12/12
@haritori
...so your room is tall and wide enough but not deep enough, so if you want it that bad you could just rotate the room setup 90* and have plenty of depth..
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