- Ergonomics / comfort Works as advertised, but has some space requirements
- Accuracy / responsiveness Little bit of lag in between physical and on-screen gestures. Takes some setup for the system to accurately recognize your face
- Durability Hardware seems sturdy. Placement requirements means it is unlikely to come crashing down to the floor
Right off the bat, I started playing around in the menu. Honestly, I’m not terribly interested in the games for Kinect that are out right now. I mostly picked up a Kinect because I know I’m going to get one eventually, not because I REALLY wanted one.
The first thing most people hear about Kinect is that you need space for it. The box and manual recommend a 6′ by 6′ empty square to play single player, and 8′ by 8′ to play with two players. While this is somewhat true, it isn’t a hard number you have to adhere to. The following pictures are of the two spaces I have played in. In each situation the Kinect sensor was situated directly below the TV.
Living room: gradybailey.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/img_0184.j... (Don't judge me from the picture on the TV. I was listening to Zune Music at the time)
In my bedroom I had plenty of room to play single player. Kinect seemed to like it best when I stood where the controller and calibration card are in the photo. In the living room I had to stand on the back edge of the blue carpet for multiplayer, but single player worked at almost the halfway point on the carpet. Both spaces are a bit cramped when it comes to width, but it doesn’t make it impossible to play. The take-away here is that if you think you don’t have enough room, pull out a tape measure. If you come close, it will probably work. You don’t need EXACTLY 6′/8′ of space.
After getting the sensor set up in the room and making sure it worked, I jumped into dashboard navigation. Everyone says “Minority Report” when they talk about the menu, and as much as I want to say it isn’t quite like that, it IS. This is absolutely a Minority Report experience. You scroll through the menus by waving your hands. You interact with voice commands. And best of all? It WORKS. Say what you want about the games of Kinect so far (Wii clones, shovelware, etc) but this shows the true innovation of the system. Only drawback is that you can’t power-on or power-off the system via Kinect. Also there are some limitations as to what you can interact with (Netflix is curiously absent from the “Kinect Hub”). Beyond those things, this is awesome, and is the future. I woke up on Thursday, powered on my TV and Xbox, waved my hand, said “Xbox… Zune… Play Music…” and started getting ready for work/school to a playlist I set up the night before. Awesome!
After toying around with the menus a bit, I began to calibrate my Kinect ID. Your Kinect ID is a supplement to your Gamertag that contains information about your physical appearance, so Kinect can identify you by sight. From what I understand, it picks up facial structure, skeletal structure, and clothing color. The way it gathers this data is through a pretty simple “game” that has you moving to various points on the floor and replicating a pose. Sometimes you have to turn slightly to the right or left (Obviously to grab more of your face) or fit your arms to just the right shape (Arm length analysis). The system suggests doing this in various lighting conditions, at various times of day, etc, because each time you run the setup it gathers more data that it can use to identify you and becomes “smarter”. I have run this probably 20 times in all manner of different configurations. I have had lights on, off, half-on, contacts in, glasses on, hair combed, hair messy, etc. After giving it so much data to work with, the system is nearly flawless now. I haven’t run into a situation where it can’t identify me. After running it just a few times, I had to be standing perfectly still, facing the sensor, etc, but now I can sit in my bed or on the couch and it will still recognize me. So where some people might think the system doesn’t work as advertised, it does. It just needs to get to know you better.
The only other item to cover is actually playing games with Kinect. The sensor comes bundled with a game called Kinect Adventures, and that is all I have played. For a pack-in game, this is actually a lot of fun. There are five different mini-games that you play, each with a series of levels that increase in difficulty and complexity. I haven’t played too much, but I’ve played each of the games. I won’t go into detail on each of them, but I can say they are all entertaining to play and watch people play. Biggest take-away from the actual gameplay was that the motion tracking works very well, and so does drop-in drop-out co-op play. It is extremely easy for a second person to get up, wave, and join in.
All in all, Kinect seems to be worth the entry price. I'm sure there will be updates coming down the line, and I am certain that Microsoft will work a second-gen Kinect into their next console. This is absolutely the future of interaction and gaming. Hopefully some more games come down the pipe that I actually want to play. I’m mostly looking forward to games that utilize both the traditional controller and Kinect, but given Microsoft’s “YOU ARE THE CONTROLLER” marketing, there probably won’t be any for a while. Hopefully we will have something along the lines of Bioshock where you control movement and shooting with the controller, but use your hand to shoot plasmids and interact with the environment. We will see. If anything, this device will at least ensure that developers will be working with the Xbox 360 for another two or three years, extending the life span of that console and thereby aying back the initial investment.
And now, a tl;dr version of my review:
Don’t need as much space as they suggest
Actually fun to play
Not many great games yet
Some navigation missing (Netflix!)
Need additional voice commands (Power, eject, etc)
Personally I think it is worth the price of entry. A must-buy if you have kids and a 360. Maybe hold off if you are a “hardcore” gamer who doesn’t care about motion.
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