Top critical review
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$500 000 000 in Hype
on December 22, 2010
I waited a few weeks before writing the review because I wanted the novelty to wear off. I mean I'm like anyone else when I get a new gadget, there is a honeymoon period.
Also, this review is for the hardware and software we own here and now, not for some speculative future potential of the product.
I'm in my early 30's and we have no children. I also love technology and gadgets. Also, I recommend, when reading Amazon reviews, concentrate on the negative ones first. Read them and see if the reviewer is reasonable and whether the review brings up things that are important to you. Also, check their other reviews to see if you agree with any of their other reviews regarding stuff you might both own, or if they have the same taste as you.
Here is what we spent to get the kinect: XBOX 360 250GB Console $300 + Kinect (with Kinect Adventures) $150 + Kinect Sports $50 + Kinect Your Shape $50 + Kinect Dance Central $50 + Joy Ride $50 TOTAL (including tax) $700
My conclusions (YMMV!):
You must have a min of 2.5m (8 feet) for one player, and 3.5m (11 feet) for two player. Set up is a breeze, the software and documentation will hold your hand through the whole process. This is designed so a child could do it.
2) The honeymoon period:
It is great fun to get it set up and try some of the neat stuff, like voice recognition and having it scan your body. And playing some of the games for a little while is pretty cool It is always the same when I get a new gadget. Like when I got my first gps, first touch screen interface device (ipad), first smartphone, etc. And I imagine the same thing happened in the past when people bought their first wireless tv remote control, or cordless phone.
The new becomes old, and the device's success must succeed or fail on its abilities.
3) Post honeymoon:
The tech in its applied form (i.e. how it is actually used) isn't particularly compelling. I'll get to the games in a minute, but right now I'll just mention menu navigation. The voice and motion kinect hub nav is slow, and not integrated into the rest of the dashboard nav system. In fact, it is an irritating waste of time. Controller nav is way quicker and more efficient. Call me crazy, but I would only call something advancement in user interface tech if it made things smoother and quicker.
And controlling an onscreen image with your body is not big deal once you've done it for a few hours
DANCE CENTRAL: Who would have thought dancing could be fun? -kidding- Dancing is of course fun, so it's no surprise that a dance video game is fun.
We also have the wii, and have spent more than a few nights laughing and flailing and sweating in competitive glee to the Just Dance games.
The Kinect dance game is fun too, but for us suffers from one fatal flaw, you cannot dance together. You can take turns playing it, but you cannot do it together. Playing at the same time is waaay more fun; when you're dancing and and trying to catch up to your patner's score, or keep your lead...it's great fun, so much more than turn based play. So we prefer the just dance 2 player mode, even though the wii controller method isn't as nearly good as the kinect's controlerless.
These are incredibly shallow, very easy, wave and hope games. There is minimal skill involve
Adventure mini games half the shelf life of a fruit fly. If the idea of plunging leaks in glass sounds like long term, repeat play fun to you, you'll love Adventures.
Kinect Sports isn't the revolutionary experience that Wii Sports was, though it does have its own charm. Seeing Mii-like Avatars in the same brightly-lit bowling alleys, soccer fields, and boxing rings diminishes from whatever freshness the title might otherwise have had.
Most of the games in Kinect Sports require you to do nothing more than stick out a limb in a particular direction. Motion and momentum don't matter as much as hitting the correct point in space. For example, to play soccer just stick out a leg in front of you and hold it there. The ball will continue to be passed forward and kicked into the goal as it moves from player to player. To change directions, just point your foot in a different direction. Defence demands a bit more variation, but just barely.
In fact, the game does a better job of recognizing what it is you're trying to do when you play this way. If you try to play it as it was designed--by doing a full kicking motion--you more often run the risk of the camera not detecting the correct movement. The other games in this collection all suffer from similar shortcomings.
Unresponsive inputs and confusing prompts also make the volleyball more frustrating than fun. It has potential with proper controls, but as is it's too difficult to tell if the action prompts - which tell you when to hit the ball - are signalling you or your AI partner. Connecting with the ball when you mean it feels good and hints at the promise of body-controlled sports.
However, more often than not we missed shots or wondered what the hell was going on even when we did nail a game-winning spike. It's tough to recommend Kinect Sports to anyone who owns Wii sports.
The worst is Track and Field; like the real-life sport it requires lots of running and jumping, but because you're playing in your living room, these activities must be performed in-place. Unless you're a hyperactive toddler on a caffeine bender, this isn't much fun. Discus and javelin challenges, which have you mimicking the expected gestures are as boring as they sound. Hurdles, which mixes the run-and-jump routine, offers some moderate entertainment. The results also are random. For example in the javelin, I get to anywhere from 25 - to 80-meter throw, even though I used the exact same throw.
Bowling is a complete mess. Rather than trying to duplicate the motions of actual bowling as in Wii Sports, bowling in Kinect Sports works instead by a series of obtuse and imprecise gesture combinations. Aiming the ball is clunky, and since you can't see your bowler's feet, you can't tell where you're standing. There's none of the impressive and unexpected finesse found in Nintendo's motion-based bowling game from four years ago. Worse, to add any spin to the ball, you have to swipe your entire arm across your body. Clearly bowling in Kinect Sports wasn't designed by anyone who has ever actually bowled. Needless to say, The Dude would not stand for this aggression, man.
Lag in detecting motions makes boxing and table tennis unplayable with any seriousness. Volleyball and soccer are the two non-dogs here, but your tolerance for them will depend entirely on how entertained you are by simply pointing your limbs at points in space.
JOYRIDE is the least interactive Kinect launch title. Instead of the full body movement seen in games like Kinect Sports or Dance Central, Kinect Joyride is controlled simply by holding your hands out in front of you, gripping an imaginary steering wheel and miming your turns. There's no need to accelerate or brake - that's taken care of by the game.
It is the worst racing game I've ever played. You cannot control your speed, you cannot brake into corners. The steering sensitivity is a mixed bag, even on straight roads expect to be taking detours through trees most of the race. Not that it matters, grass and dirt don't slow you down and trees, fences and other barriers go down with no ascertainable impact to your speed or the car.
Accuracy means very little in Joyride. That means that the game is easily accessible to the players Kinect is marketed towards. Was made that way for marketing or because of the limits of the tech
Kinect might be a killer exercise aid. Yourshape shows some of the promise that Kinect has in this area. And nothing sells like the promise of losing weight in the USofA.
But this is not the Kinect's killer app.
The first few times you play it, you will really enjoy it. The body analysis and immediate form correction are great. And seeing yourself onscreen is pretty cool (although some people might not want that). But the meat and potatoes of the game are sparse, and not personalizable.
But I want a fitness game to make we want to come back day after day, give me a hard but enjoyable workout, and be flexible enough to accommodate my fitness whims. Ubisoft describes the motivating rewards: "The better you perform, the more you are rewarded with interactive effects such as paint, water, light, ink, confetti, and more. You'll stay motivated and excited - you never know what's going to happen next!" woohoo, paint water and confetti.
Kinect as it is right now is underwhelming. Once the novelty wears off, it will be a dust collector in our house.
The games have little in the way of replay value and are aimed at people who very causual gamers and kids. I imagine kids will find them quite fun, but really don't kids have fun doing anything that isn't homework or school?
Maybe in a year this review might be totally out of date. I'm really hoping for a dance game we can play together, and some compelling exercise games. But until that vapourware materializes, this a 2 star $700 novelty system.