E3 2011: The last Kinect preview you’ll ever need

I may look like the happy idiot in this video, but I was very much crying on the inside. Here’s what the video doesn’t tell you: This is the last Kinect demo I’ll ever take professionally. No, it’s not just because I’m an out of shape smoker prone to sweaty sobbing fits. It’s just, well…. Think back to every Kinect demo you’ve ever seen at a press conference. Shit almost NEVER goes off successfully, and it’s even worse in demos.

Kinect is certainly an impressive piece of technology, but I’ve almost never had a demo in an optimal environment. Things I’m told will work rarely do, so in a preview, I’m left with having to fill the gaps with hypothetical aspects of control that may or may not work once the game ends up in your living room. Add to that Microsoft’s Kinect showcase on the E3 show floor took place in a reflective fish bowl, with a bunch of people walking in the background. Even as someone who doesn’t own or particularly care much for Kinect, I at least know full well that these are factors that will negatively impact the camera’s ability to get an accurate read.

Above: Lifestyle shots are whyPhotoshop (opens in new tab)was invented

Furthermore, as a barely professional “GameZ Journalist” I’m aware that pointing another camera lens at Kinect, which is basically a beefy hyper-sensitive camera itself, causes weird issues… but Microsoft isn’t?! Over my shoulder there was an endless parade of press representatives, from all over the world, snapping and shooting away, potentially crippling the very thing Microsoft desperately wants them so see… GODDAMMIT!

CERTIFIED: Good Times!

Nearly all my demos resulted in questions like this: “Okay, what was supposed to happen, Mr. Developer? Oh… good to know, because I definitely didn’t see that.” Our readers barely give a shit about Kinect as it is, so how are we supposed to take it seriously when it’s presented in an environment that makes games come off as largely broken and unplayable (which I imagine they are not.) With all that in mind, I’m going to quickly break down the five demos I saw in a manner that should ensure I never get invited to a Kinect appointment ever again!


Above: If you can identify this as the second game, then it’s probably for you

The sequel to one (opens in new tab) of two (opens in new tab) reasons to own a Kinect, it’s exactly what you think it is: New songs plus a feature that should’ve been there from the start. It’s the first game, now with added drop in/drop out multiplayer and simultaneous two-player co-op. To its credit, Dance Central is without a doubt the only game to utilize Kinect in any meaningful or innovative way.

Above: Let us pray Kinect is capable of allowing two people to play simultaneously

Of course, the one caveat to being the sole game to explore so many avenues of bodily recognition makes the game extremely physically demanding. I love the Dance Central, but I’d have to go to the gym for six months just to complete the last two tiers of the original game, so not even the incredibly compelling prospect of embarrassing myself to La Roux’s “Bulletproof” makes me feel like I need a new version anytime soon.


Above: Millions of dollars and the latest motion capture technology have finally culminated into an imprecise corridor shooter

This here’s the Kinect game our readers are probably most anxious to hear about, so I’m going to try and choose my words carefully… This is the worst thing that’s ever existed. Its biggest problem is one games have tackled effortlessly since the medium’s inception: Moving forward. With a D-Pad and/or analog stick stuck in a galaxy far, far away, you basically hurl your character in a vague direction by leaning forward. And putting your arms out. And opening your hands. And putting one foot forward. All that bullshit, for something so simple and it didn’t even work half the time.

Above: Oh, at least there are Terminators. That’s new, right?

And, dear God, the lightsaber… Swinging the famous glowing sword has been the dream of gamers since the fad of motion controls began. Kinect, however, is not the platform you’re looking for. Never once did I feel like the lightsaber, which doesn’t really cut through anything and is used primarily to whack robots until they explode, was corresponding with any movement I was performing. Once I moved on to the iconic “Jedi Kick” move, which would execute onscreen well after my foot had already landed back on the ground, it became clear that there was very little 1:1 control occurring here. Unless this thing is overhauled drastically, or I was playing in a radioactive cloud of anti-Kinect interference, expect this high profile title to piss off a lot of people.

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