Microsoft has officially gone all-in on motion control. Kinect — Microsoft’s rebranded name for Project Natal — uses a moving camera and a microphone to give users the potential for both registered full-body movement and voice recognition. Microsoft execs pushed the peripheral hard at the company’s E3 2010 press conference, showing off everything from pet simulations and dancing games to workout titles and even a Star Wars slasher. Is Kinect for real, and is it really the Wii-killer Microsoft thinks it is? Our staff weighs in below:
I would just like to be the first to say, “told ya so!” Nothing they showed wowed me at all. In fact, I was more annoyed than anything. Every game for Kinect was purely already on Wii. Also, the conference was such a bore and all about casuals, that I think it surpassed, by far, how bad Nintendo’s conference of two years ago was. The bad thing is, I have not seen too many people bash MS like Nintendo was that year.
But, getting to the games… oh wait, there were none. There were three exclusives that everyone knew about, Gears 3, Fable 3 and Halo: Reach, and there were a few multiplatform titles shown, but other than that, only minor, casual titles for Kinect were shown. Oh, and a HUGE amount of crapware for Kinect like ESPN crap and video conferencing, which I was sure was already feasible with the Xbox Live Camera. The lag in the games was really annoying and the dancing game was silly. How can you dance when your character onscreen is behind by a second or two? Even my wife thought it was dumb.
Over all, I give it a big F – A – I – L. Any MS fanboys should say the same. Also, where was Milo? I believe his absence proved me correct on that point as well. He was fake or at least didn’t work well! Nintendo’s show will blow them out of the water!
On paper, Kinect put on a pretty good show today. Microsoft showed full-on in-development titles, both first- and third-party, that illustrated the range of Kinect’s tech. I saw a man navigate menus with a simple wave of the hand, a kid play with and talk to a pet tiger, a woman follow a structured work out, a pair of ladies raft down a raging river, and Trey Wingo talk his way into a streamed college football game. The crown jewel of the presentation was probably the announcement of a LucasArts Jedi slasher in development for Kinect, complete with a simple demo; it almost seemed to be an insult to Wii owners who have craved real lightsaber action for years.
In reality, though, Kinect is a failure in the making. Microsoft’s demo software, like last year, was overwhelmingly casual and it is quite clear that this device will have little hardcore support. The one “hardcore” title that was shown, the Star Wars lightsaber demo, unintentionally showed off a serious technical limitation of Kinect; since players cannot actually turn using Kinect (they can only strafe side to side), action games will most assuredly be limited to those of the on-rails variety, as the Star Wars title was. Another significant omission from the Microsoft press conference was any mention of Kinect’s price point, which GameStop suggests is a steep $150. If true, that means that Kinect will come in just $50 less than a full Wii console with two Wii Sports games and Wii MotionPlus. Sounds like more money lost for Team Xbox.
While Microsoft was busy having the worst E3 showing ever, Greg, Josh and I were busy tearing it apart. There was absolutely nothing interesting. They took a page from Nintendo’s book and geared the whole conference to the casual gamer. The problem was that there was nothing for the hardcore audience, and no surprises.
It was even worse than Nintendo’s 2008 conference, which many thought could never be topped. In gearing towards the casual, the whole conference centered around Kinect, and it is totally unimpressive. The games look poor, and are nothing that we haven’t seen in the last four years. I think Kinect is going to meet an early end.
I really feel like Kinect is a non-issue. I think we can all agree that it’s pretty much pre-ordained that a Microsoft initiative is not going to garner a whole lot of support around these parts, but it’s not like Kinect really deserves support, is it? The only thing going for Kinect is that it isn’t a completely blatant rip-off of Nintendo tech like Move is. That’s it. At least Move is more functional.
The second paragraph I will devote entirely to the name, because it is horrible. Up front, I’ll admit that “Wii” is also a pretty poor name, too, and that I still don’t like it, but “Kinect” is even less good, since it is very unremarkable. I thought it was “Kinetic” until the fourth or fifth time I read it, and that isn’t good. Since it looks like “Kinetic” and sounds like “Connect” — something which I’m sure the MS PR people purposefully tried to accomplish — it actually kind of camouflages itself in both the written and spoken word, which is not something that you want your product name to do. I’m yawning over here.
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