Microsoft Kinect makes you feel like you're living in the future. The new 3D motion-tracking camera from Microsoft allows you to play games without anything in your hands. This means no more searching for wands and batteries or hooking up complicated peripherals to your console. You just need you. You really are the controller with Kinect and it's magnificent.
When it was first introduced (way back when it was called "Project Natal"), everyone here at the office was a little hesitant. The question on everyone's mind was, "This looks cool, but will it really work?" As time wore on, and we had a few chances to get hands on with Kinect, it became "Ok, that was fun and it worked in a controlled setting, but will it work at home?" Now that we've had a lot of time with Kinect in the wild, we can say for sure. Yes, it does work and yes, it's as impressive as we thought it was going to be.
Maybe it's a sad criticism of the gaming hardware industry to say that the best part of something is that it actually works. I'm not sure, but all I know is that a few minutes with Kinect turned even non-believers into slack-jawed little kids, filled with excitement because of the fun that Kinect provides.
We've taken a look at a bunch of the launch titles for Kinect. Read our reviews and decide for yourself if Kinect is really the game changer we think it is.
- Kinectimals Review
- Sonic Free Riders Review
- Kinect Adventures Review
- Kinect Sports Review
- Kinect Joy Ride Review
- Dance Central Review
Now, hit the Read More for some tips and observations about Kinect.
1. You're going to need some room to play Kinect.
Small living rooms and coffee tables be damned! To enjoy Kinect, you're going to need at least 6-10 feet between you and the Kinect, plus copious room on either side of you. If this involves moving furniture, so be it. You're going to be standing a lot, because if Kinect fails in one very tiny arena, it's being responsive while you're sitting down. Standing never killed anyone and it's a strange joy to be utterly exhausted by a video game.
2. Kinect isn't trying to be anything more than what it is.
Microsoft is well aware of what works with Kinect and what doesn't. You're not going to see a Kinect patch for Halo: Reach. That's not to say that there aren't more hardcore applications coming in the future, it just means that Kinect isn't being forced on anyone. You don't have to abandon your controller completely, you can use Kinect to supplement your gaming experience and get some exercise.
3. Voice chat is awesome.
The VideoKinect feature, which allows you to video chat with other Xbox LIVE users, is amazing. Both the sound and audio work flawlessly and the Kinect camera will even track you if you move around the room. It's a little creepy, but if you have friends and family who live far away, VideoKinect is an easy way to keep in touch with them face to face without the need to set up an extra webcam.
Oh and speaking of voice, Kinect allows you to navigate the hub using voice commands. All you have to do is say "Xbox" followed by what you want the console to do and it will obey your every command. It will not, however, make you dumplings, but it will launch applications and open and close your disc tray. See what we mean about the future?
4. Kinect will change the way you feel about so-called casual gaming.
Like I said before, Kinect isn't trying to be anything it's not, but it's so much fun to use and interact with (just navigating through the menus brings a sense of joy), that it might change the way you think about yourself as a gamer. Maybe motion control has never been your thing, but games like Dance Central are designed to be fun for everyone and you cannot undervalue being able to participate without having anything in your hands. It really is an accomplishment and maybe the fact that Kinect is so cool, will open a lot of gamers' eyes to the fact that sometimes, games are just meant to be silly and fun.