Like I said, Kinect's not awful
. From what I've seen so far, however, there's just not enough there to justify shelling out £129.99 for the thing. As a gamer, you could just dust off your Wii, play it for a few minutes and then remember why you don't bother with it any more unless a bunch of casual, five year olds come around.
Hopefully further play will change my mind, but at the moment I'm not that optimistic ? at least until we get a second wave of games coming through...
Not that any of that matters to me personally, anyway. The manual says you need six clear feet of space in your living room to use Kinect, and I certainly don't have the sort of 'lifestyle photo' living room to accommodate that. Do you?
Back the the Future
Back to me, Tim and the initial booting of Kinect.
So, Marcus and I were standing in front of a now updated Kinect. I sat down as Marcus took up the role of setting up the device. That initial set-up involves a deal of silence as Kinect's audio tracking is initiated. This entails it blasting short but quite exciting (in a portentous way) bursts of synchestral music... twice.
"Xbox! Make the tea!" yelled a wit who had popped into the breakroom to see what was going on.
However, we were keen to see how Kinect scanned us in. It didn't. It scanned Marcus in. One person. That one person was, of course, tied to the on Xbox Live log-in. Fair enough. Everybody else on the system becomes a guest. Sure, that's fine.
So, there stood Marcus - not a small man - in front of Kinect as it looked him up and down, quite literally. Well, it did once we'd pulled it from directly under and centered to the telly (as the manual had told us we should place it) to the front of the stand so it could see the very unmessy floor. It really does need that floor to orientate itself.
We waited for the magic. There was Marcus on the screen, looking like a particularly 1950s' sci-fi/lo-fi monster that someone had drawn a very basic stick man in. Marcus moved about and so did 1950s' stick man. Kinect was happy. I looked on.
Frankly, we should probably have read the manual more deeply, but we're not of that generation. We're of the 'PLAY! NOW!' generation - we discovered punk and invented the mobile phone and MTV.
So, yes, there were more tutorials for the hard of understanding - or patient and sensible - which we skipped and it was into Rare's Kinect Sports
Now, I can see why it would take half an hour from opening the Kinect box to actually starting to play a game. It needed setting up, it needed to get used to the room. It required another software update. Even Kinect Sports
probably needed an update. It's new. It's revolutionary, it is not EyeToy. It lets you use your entire body to control things. It can log you into Xbox Live merely by talking to it. You'll never need to use a controller again.
Well, you will if you want to play games that don't involve fitness, sport, dancing or having a family experience. But this is early in the life of Kinect.
I have to say at this point that I hope that this does mean that the system will mature into somehow being able to introduce some feedback.
Why? Simple, playing any game - and I don't care whether this is a casual puzzle game or a hardcore driver or shooter (or kicker if it comes to that) is as much as tactile experience as it is a cerebral or 'active' one. All the Achievements or 'Great forehand!' commentaries in the world will not provide the same level of interactivity as some form of tactile feedback. This is as true of chess as it is of Modern Warfare 2
as it is of playing leapfrog. Touch is important. Touch is crucial in fact.
The Wii and Move provide vibrating tactile feedback. Old fashioned joysticks gave you something to hang onto. Kinect is, by its very nature, bereft of that. While it is an 'all body' experience it is also a 'no body' experience.
Playing bowling, saving goals, playing table tennis (as Mark has pointed out) are all 'classic' causal games that lack a real feeling of involvement right now.
Old Skool Whinging
I absolutely take the point that Kinect - unlike Mr Kipman's Natal - is not aimed at Microsoft's hardcore audience. It's not aimed at old skool gamers like me. It is aimed at the kind of families who play together in large rooms - probably not living upstairs from people who object to people jumping up and down on their ceilings. It is aimed at a definite and very profitable demographic. That's the demographic that had slipped away from Microsoft with its raft of quality Xbox 360 hardcore gamer titles. It is not aimed at Gears
fans or Halo
fans, it doesn't need to be.