The Kinect is here and the sales results are out! Microsoft have hinted that 5 million units will have been sold by the end of 2010. If correct this would be the fastest selling peripheral of all time.
And recently, we managed to get our hands on one to see what all the fuss is about!
Hooking up the Kinect is very easy. Here at mobiles we have the newest variant of the xbox which has a dedicated port for the peripheral and simply plugs into the back of the xbox. Legacy xbox 360′s require the bundled power adapter which plugs into the xbox via USB and then requires the user to plug it into a power socket.
Once it’s plugged in and switched on, you have to jump through a bunch of configuration hoops which takes around 5 minutes to set up. Once you’re done you’re ready to start playing a game. One note worth mentioning at this point is that the Kinect needs 1.8m between you and it. This is a substantial gap and may rule the device out for those with smaller living rooms or bedrooms.
We tested out two games, firstly the bundled game Kinect adventures. Kinect adventures is essentially a variant of wii sports. It introduces you to how the Kinect works and lets you play as your avatar against each other in what are pretty basic games.
River rush requires you to steer a dingy through some intense rapids by taking steps left and right, you can also jump – lifting the raft with you by physically jumping around your room. Quite impressively the reaction times between you and the Kinect are minimal and you don’t feel any real time delay between what you’re doing and what your character is doing on the screen in front of you.
So far so good, however moving onto Rallyball we start to see the Kinect display it’s limitations. This game requires you to use your arms and legs to beat a ball around a room very similar to a squash court. You have targets to hit with the ball which unlock bonus points and additional balls. Although the Kinect attempts to track your movements and is able to tell where your arms and legs are, it isn’t able to judge subtle movements in your hands which would alter the path of the ball.
As a result your movements need to be overemphasized in order for you to change the balls direction and hit the on screen targets. The other downside to this game is that you are expected to be very accurate when hitting the ball, which when it’s virtual is very difficult to achieve. Wii sports is more forgiving in this area with Kinect not feeling as intuitive as it’s main rival. In this instance we feel Wii sports achieves more with less although this may be a programming issue and may be a fault of the game not the Kinect itself.
The next game we tried out is Dance central. This is where the Kinect seems to come into it’s own. Dance central is produced by harmonix, who brought us rockband, and they clearly know how to draw players into their games. This game offers the chance to dance around your room to some of the latest pop songs in the charts.
When you’ve put aside you inhibitions and decided to try the game, you’re instantly offered the opportunity to dance off against one of the virtual instructors. She’ll teach you some basic moves which you then have to sting together using prompts that appear in the form of flashcards. It sounds quite complicated but it’s actually very easy. The Kinect tracks your movements and highlights which part of your body is out of position, a polite pointer here and there and you find yourself dancing along to the music almost as good as the professionals.
The ability to track your entire body works extremely well and is where the Kinect comes into it’s element. The game gets you moving and you heart racing, unlike the Wii as many of us have realised can actually be played from a horizontal position on the couch. The Kinect knows when you’re cheating and punishes the player accordingly by subtracting points.
When using the Kinect it does feel like a new experience – it really does have the wow moment when you realise how clever this new bit of kit is. Clearly it’s a great addition to any gamers catalogue, but is it value for money? The Kinect is quite hefty at £120 which is almost the price of a Wii.
If you’ve played the Wii and are happy with what it has to offer then we wouldn’t recommend jumping ship yet. For the more hardcore gamer who likes to blow things up from time to time, the Kinect seems like a good choice if you’re looking to add some movement to your gaming habits.
When compared to the price of the Playsation move it may still appear expensive, but if you consider the hardware required for four player games plus the cost of batteries to run the move controllers, you’ll actually end up spending around £150, making the Kinect better value.
All in all we’re excited by what the Kinect brings to xbox and enjoyed playing it. What we’ve seen is that the Kinect has potential that currently no other console can offer. It’s not perfect but we imagine that given some time, the Kinect may out manoeuvre it’s wand toting rivals.
In case you haven’t seen, we currently range the Kinect as a free gift with or without an xbox 360, so take a look here at what we have to offer and keep checking our blog for updates on new tech and phones.