Let us get Kinected
Last night I attended Microsoft’s lavish event held for numerous press, media and celebrities, where the official name for Project Natal was unveiled. Named as Kinect and donning a new purple branding (which is quite a change over the traditional green branding) Kinect’s strap line in its press material states – “No barriers, No boundries, No gadgets, No gizmos, No learning curves. With Kinect, you are the controller.”
The event was guided along with performances by the bizarre and qwerky Cirqua Du Soleil team, all dressed in jungle-like outfits as they interacted in areas on and off the main stage. To be honest there wasn’t really a main stage as such, the whole performance was in and around you as well as being ON you, as we all had to wear these white ponchos with huge Lady Gaga shoulder pads on. These fashion statements soon came apparent when the shoulder pads lit up during the performance, creating a light show inside the very crowd itself, it was very unique and enhanced the performance overall.
At this point of the performance we started to see more information on what we can expect from Kinect. Nothing ground breaking or new was really shown about the device itself, but most of all was the sneak preview of some of its upcoming games, all of which looked like they have come from RARE studios. These games were displayed in quite an up tempo way, one after the other, whilst a real life family mimed played these games on stage.
We saw the usual casual game types such as water rafting, bowling, hurdles, 100m running races and javelin sporting events. Each of these showed good potential in capturing the players movements to the screen. A Yoga class game type was also shown, where positions were shown alongside your own to match up and hold for a period of time. This showed good promises and will no doubt lead to many games of this type and is a perfect match for Kinect’s features.
Last year’s Joyrider, now ported to Kinect was also shown. With movement now being the control you could tell in the game that wider turns were present here to cope with the less precise controls you now have over a controller. Other sports titles were also shown including: beach volleyball, which will be able to be played over LIVE. A football title was shown and was a little disappointing for me. A penalty shootout game would have done just as well I thought.
The most crowd-pleasing game shown was a Star Wars light sabre game, which had everyone in rapturous applause. The game looked like you played in waves of enemies. Movement through the waves was done by mimicking a force speed movement, as seen in Force Unleashed, then using two hands to hold a light sabre you would swipe your hands around to kill the wave of storm troopers; power attacks like Force Push and energy bolts were also shown by carrying out similar hand gestures in a similar way to The Force Unleashed. Overall it looked like fun, however it will need some variety in the game, else I can see it becoming very repetitive.
Another title shown was a dance matching game. Think Guitar Hero/Rock Band, where you are the controller in terms of you matching dance moves in time with the beat. It looked like a game for dance pros and wannabes, but also something you wouldn’t want to have your non-gaming friends catching you playing. The game looked very early with very little user interface, but the concept looked good and I could see it being one of the more popular titles for Kinect, when it releases.
On top of this we were also shown a new layout of the dashboard when using Kinect. The UI was more square and tile based, making it very easy to point and select with using gestures. BBC Earth was shown, amongst Netflix, video chat with other members over LIVE as well as photo sharing and photo browsing.
All in all it was a glossy and small taste of what we hope to learn more about in a few hours at Microsoft’s press briefing today. I’ll be there live Tweeting the event and then getting my hands-on with their biggest announcements. So stay tuned.