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Friday, November 12, 2010

Kinect: we are too old for this shit...

Today it was raining, I was driving around the city for two hours for various chores and I was bored out of my mind. I just wanted to go home. While in the car onnateldome, a long time allroundgeek friend, called me. He was about to buy Kinect for his Xbox360 and he called me to go to his house in order check it out. Of course I could not refuse even though I had more serious obligations. Yesterday was the european launch day for Kinect, how could I say "no"?

When I entered his house I found him in shorts, sweaty and broken with a big smile on his face. He was jumping around like a monkey shouting "I wish I had this when I was 15!" and "I can't go on, my legs hurt!". Immediately I joined him in co-op mode in a rafting game. I was jumping around and laughing like an idiot! In 5 minutes it became apparent that I needed to get myself in shorts, as well. So, I did. Don't try to play Kinect adventures in your jeans. You simply cannot play properly.

You really need shorts for this

We spend the better part of the morning and afternoon exploring the various games that were available. The controls are remarkably responsive and technologically it is very impressive. I mean, you being the controller, as microsoft's marketing department slogan goes, feels very natural and novel. 4 years after the Nintendo Wii release, that revolutionized this sort of gameplay mechanics, this still feels novel. It is very impressive to see your avatar perform every move you make with your whole body. Your arms, legs, hips, head, everything really respond to your movements. What felt difficult, was navigating through menus with hand gestures. It was unnatural and slow. I would prefer it, if it let you chose between the normal controller and the gestures.

Despite having great fun I am still reluctant and not a big fan of this kind of peripherals and mechanics for video games. A few years back I bought eye toy kinetic combat for the PS2. For its time it made a novel use of a camera peripheral in video games. Then, the Wii came out and sold like crazy. It sold like crazy to mostly non-gamers due to its casual approach to video games. Casual games bore me to death. Like in Wii after the novelty wares off you are left with something you have to put effort on and it does not feel like a video game, it is not relaxing and it lacks gameplay depth. There is a limit into how many hours you can spend jumping around. We are in an age that you simply want to chill on the sofa holding a normal controller and play a normal game that offers you depth, action, be challenging for your wits, or simply distract you from real life and get you in a fantasy/scifi/mob/post-apocalyptic world. I play to relax. If I want to exercise I can go outside for some running.

He is still jumping

Having said that, this still is excellent fun for everyone and really is party video gaming. I expect more games to come out in the following months that make better use of the kinect technology. Microsoft preview videos prepare you for awesome applications of the technology. I am not saying that their are lying but it is just not there yet. It all depends on the developers to think of new ways of using it and of course on Microsoft to support its new platform and integrate it with the rest of the xbox functionality.

As I am righting these words onnateldome is still jumping around like a monkey and we are waiting for the rest of the crew to join us in mindless fun. I think I ll rest for now. I am too old for this shit.

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