When I first heard about the Kinect back in 2009 when it was still called Project Natal I had my reservations. I don’t like motion controlled gaming because when I play a game I want to sit on my fat a*s and scratch my balls, but at the same time I appreciate the technology and understand its grip on casual gamers. Knowing that the Kinect wasn’t just going to be a simple motion-controller, but also have some console management features like gesture controls and voice controls, is what drew me to it over the PS3 Move. I really wasn’t in it for gaming, because I knew the games at launch would be gimmicky as a mo fo, but I had to know if it’s gesture controls and voice commands could replicate that feeling of WOW this is cutting edge technology. I wanted to see if I could get down like Tom Cruise in ‘Minority Report’ by manipulating a computer device with my voice and hand motions. Finally, yesterday I had my chance to do just that.
Let me preface my review by stating that I’m a new technology fanboy, so I let some of that excitement creep into my reviews of brand new technologies. Like I said before I really wasn’t into the Kinect for gaming, I wanted it to give me that futuristic experience of interfacing with a device that I first saw in ‘Minority Report’. Sure $150 is a high price to pay for being able to talk to your Xbox and manipulate some of it’s menu’s with your hands, but in my mind it’s totally worth it.
Once I got my Kinect setup, which is as painless as can be, I quickly realized how awesome the new ways of interacting with my Xbox really are. Please note that I didn’t have my Kinect sensor in the proper place due to my surround sound setup, my basement is completely dark(Blown away at how well it can interpret my movements in darkness), and I was not standing 6ft away from it. Even considering all of these obstacles I still found the Kinect to pick up my getures and commands even more fluidly than the Wiimote. Seeing this has motivated me to pick up the TV mount for $39.99, so I can be in compliance with the sensor placement. I can almost guarantee that the responsiveness will be even greater once I actually follow the recommendations for sensor placement.
The only issue I see remaining is that the Kinect has a hard time signing me in using facial recognition in the dark. It can’t determine who exactly you are, but it has no issues in games or navigating menus in the dark. Just don’t expect to walk into view and have it recognize what profile you are and sign you in. This is not a deal breaker at all because you can easily sign into the Kinect Dashboard using hand gestures. I’ll have a video after the break demonstrating the gestures and a few voice commands after the break, which in my opinion are worth the $150 price tag, but I get off on new gadgets, so other gamers may take issue with the price tag. To them I say go get a real job and move out of Mom’s house!
Gaming with the Kinect is a second hand feature to me. That’s my opinion, you’ll see other media outlets bashing the Kinect for its gaming flaws, which I agree with to a point, but I didn’t feel like the gaming was much different than what you’d do on the Wii. The one issue I found with the Kinect in regards to gaming, is that you’ll need a decent amount of open space to play these games with Friends. You truly have to be 6ft away or further from the Kinect sensor, or the game will pause and ask you to get back into view. Again, I was in a pitch black room and didn’t follow the sensor placement settings to a “T”, and considering this fact I still found the responsiveness of Kinect to be right in line with the Wiimote.
I did find myself liking not using a controller to interact with the game. It just feels natural and it’s nice to not have a wand looking device in your paws. Beware of your ceiling level as well. As I was jumping around like some guy who just had his a*s smacked by another dude I smashed right into my low basement ceiling almost knocking myself out.
I will agree with the other reviewers who pick on the Kinect for its gaming lineup at launch. They’re all pretty generic, and don’t provide any sort of “I have to play that feeling”, but I won’t knock the Kinect’s amazing technology for that. I can’t stress how awesome it feels to be in the future. Once again I found myself going, “Sh*t, what we see in movies these days isn’t too far off from what we are doing now!” For a geek this is an extremely exciting moment. I felt Jedi like, and even chose to navigate my Kinect Dashboard with the same getures that a Jedi would use to influence a Stormtrooper with a mind trick. Finally, I could wield the force!
In summary, I’d recommend the Kinect to anyone who likes gadgets that push the boundaries of sci-fi versus reality. The gesture based controls and voice commands are enough to make me feel satisfied, but I’ll revisit this feeling after a few weeks of using my hands to get around versus a controller stick. I will agree that the launch titles are weak, and nothing new as far as motion based controls go in gaming. But that’s not enough for me to say that the Kinect is a bust. I see great potential for the Kinect as time moves on.
The most disappointing thing to me is that Netflix isn’t included in the Kinect Dashboard. This means that I can’t use the sensor to naviagte my queue, or control my movie playback. Kind of a bummer, but I’d have to imaging there will be an update to address this. The same can be said for other Dashboard features like Facebook and Twitter, which aren’t available in the Kinect Dashboard either. In the end, if you like man-toys and like cutting edge technology, you won’t be let down by the Kinect. I give it a 8/10. Check out a quick demo below, and grab all of you Kinect needs from my Amazon store, you know you want one too! You’ve been living in the future and didn’t even know it…
Change to 360p if video loads slow, or as usual go get a real ISP!
E.B. “Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”