Kinecting The Dots - Impressions From The E3 Kinect Unveiling
Written Monday, June 14, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
From a Microsoft perspective, it must be pretty demoralising to see this evening’s events spoiled by an advertising mishap. Another advertising mishap may I add - Gears of War 3 anyone? A leak that pretty much let every cat out of the bag ahead of this evening’s event.
Scenes outside the Galen Center this evening.
Regardless, Microsoft and their Project Natal event this evening, imagined by those limber and energetic Cirque Du Soleil folks, was a fine spectacle. From a gaming perspective though, it was nothing more than that. A highly charged and superb piece of choreography, but with no substance to indicate that the upcoming piece of hardware really is enough to change the face of gaming as we know it. After the leak from this afternoon, there is nothing new really to report other than a few specifics on what we saw. In fact, we can’t even comment on how it’s shaping up on the technology front as it was all a fantastically scripted series of events, rather than a live showcase of the new hardware.
So yes, Natal is now called Kinect and truth be told, we much preferred Natal, and yes, Joyride is now a Kinect title - as are pretty much all of the games that were mentioned in this afternoon’s post which all made a cameo appearance.
After some insane gymnastics from the Cirque Du Soleil folk on the show floor - which was filled with hundreds of industry folk (us included) - and such things like a huge elephant carrying in a small boy, the show got underway with more hyperbole than the front page of your everyday tabloid. The Kinect aspect took a while to rear its head and they kicked things off with the formally leaked, Kinect Adventures. Not only did they show off the game’s river raft mini-game where the player steers down the river trying to grab as many letter bubbles as possible, but also gave us a brief look at the on rails mini-game that has you moving your body and changing your shape to collect as many of the pick ups as possible along the way.
Even elephants were invited...
Next on show was Microsoft’s much anticipated and now reimagined Joy Ride. Controlled similarly to the Burnout Paradise Natal demonstration at last year’s E3, the on-screen characters leaned into corners to drift around them and whilst in the air on big jumps, leaned forwards, backwards or to one side to pull off some insane stunts. It looked very cool in its own right, but to be quite frank, other than bundling it with Kinect, I find it hard to see how it’s going to shift many copies at all as it seems to be quite shallow on the face of it.
A good segment of the event was centred around Kinect’s Wii Sports wannabe title, Kinect Sports. In a girls vs. boys face-off, we got a brief look at the game’s hurdles event, javelin throw and the sprint event of the track and field discipline, as well as volley ball, ten-pin bowling and “soccer” - which looked particularly horrid and clunky. It’s definitely not aimed at the most seasoned gamers, although with Xbox Live multiplayer being an integral part of Microsoft’s system, it may offer something a little more than Nintendo’s counterpart in that respect.
Not mentioned earlier on and possibly not one of the tech’s strongest selling points, but we also got to see the video chat in action briefly, as well as the ability to share photos and view them with a friend using the technology as an interface. That includes navigating the dashboard as well, which looks equally as cool as it did last year.
There was also a brief look at their Tai Chi/Yoga title, Kinectimals - which basically consists of stroking an animal... seriously - and their Just Dance rip-off, Dance Central. All of which kind of indicate the general direction of Natal’s software and as expected, there really doesn’t seem much for Microsoft’s core audience as it stands. Kinetic is quite clearly about expanding Microsoft's audience, whether that will mean more investment there and less investment in their core market though remains to be seen.
This. Is. Kinect.
As a core gamer per se, the only title that really managed to catch my attention was the collaboration between Disney and LucasArts. The unnamed Star Wars title saw our on screen character using his body movement to flail his lightsaber to deflect incoming laser beams, before swinging his arms to use the force to wipe out a crew of approaching Stormtroopers. Unfortunately, the brief look was as it sounds, brief, and after our character had wiped out a few waves of Stormtroopers and slid forward using the Force, the scene ended as our plucky little character entered into a lightsaber duel with none other than Darth Vader himself.
The most disappointing aspect from the whole presentation was not the terrible name, but the fact that having gone in expecting some sort of price and release date announcement, we left with nothing. Sure, we got a quick glance at a few games, most of which will appeal to young children and technologically savvy families, but for those who are in it - and have always been in it - for the games, you may be disappointed and admittedly, we left with a bitter taste in our mouths. This year’s E3 is hugely important for Kinect and it simply must leave a positive impact on the audience if it's going to be a success, truth be told though, it hasn’t got off to the brightest of starts. Expect a price and release date tomorrow at the Microsoft press briefing, but for now, core gamers shouldn't really expect too much from the product based upon this first batch of games.