Kinecting for a Month – Exhaustion, Exhilaration and Enjoyment

By on February 16, 2011

You know the feeling. You’ve just acquired the latest bit of technology from your local store, becoming increasingly more keen to journey home and boot it up. You’re so eager to get going inside your mind swirling patterns of visions of going home pretty much eradicate everything else from your brain, prompting you to become a mindless husk (just like the ones from Mass Effect) until you can finally get home and boot up your latest bit of technology. I was exactly this way just over a month ago when I trekked down to my local store and bought Microsoft’s Kinect, handing over £190 of my hard-earned Christmas money-haul to buy both Kinect and the games Dance Central and Kinect Sports.  Since then I’ve also bought Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, so I have a nice little line-up of titles. So what are my thoughts and opinions on both the games and the actual Kinect hardware a month into receiving the product? Why not read on and find out? You know you want to.

First and foremost I must mention how physically tiring Kinect is. I’m not the most active of people, but I’m not overweight or anything and am reasonably in shape, yet Kinect has me absolutely exhausted every time I play it. This is gaming at a whole new level, involving real effort to play the games. If you’re getting a Kinect, be prepared to get off your backside and actually make an effort. Both myself and my flatmates/immediate family have been completely flinging ourselves around the room for the past month, really getting into the active and demanding aspects of Kinect. I actually feel physically fitter since playing it, simply because I’ve been doing a lot more than sitting with a controller.

Another important aspect to consider with Kinect is the issues it has with space. Yes, it does have a lot of issues with space. Sometimes Kinect can struggle to read every single part of your body depending on the immediate area, and some furniture shifting may be in order to receive the best experience.  However, I currently live in a reasonably small student room and I’ve managed to set up Kinect there to read me accurately (just about). It’s nestled comfortably on a shelf above my TV and apart from a few minor recognitions of my feet not showing up, it works perfectly fine.  If I can do it in a small space – albeit by moving my bedside table – I’m sure the vast majority of people can get Kinect working as well. It’s always nicer to have more space, but if limited space in your home is putting you off a Kinect purchase don’t worry too much, it still works.

If you’ve also heard rumours of Kinect having lag circulating the net, I’m happy to report that this is pretty much nonsense. In all the time I’ve played Kinect I’ve never once noticed any lag, my arms, legs and other extremities being tracked perfectly fine wherever I wave them and wave them a lot I do. I’ve even managed to accidentally kung-fu kick my wardrobe when I got overexcited playing fitness boxing on Your Shape: Fitness Evolved.  Thankfully I didn’t inflict any damage upon my wardrobe though. Hurt the old foot a little, but never mind.

The accuracy extends to all games, but I’ve found it to be particularly good when playing Dance Central. I’ll be the first one to admit I have little dancing ability. I can move a little, but I’m not exactly the life and soul of the party, busting out tricky skilful moves like they’re child’s play. A few hours on with Dance Central though and I actually can dance better. It really is quite amazing how well it teaches you what to do in order to groove like the very best. With the full body tracking capability of Kinect this allows the camera to scan you from head to toe and if you’re doing something wrong the game lets you know by highlighting your body red, allowing you to adjust whatever is wrong. It works great, teaching you new dance moves and letting you string them all together as you get better and better each and every time you attempt to do the dance again. Free from the hindrances of a remote this game really blossoms into a league of its own, tracking your wonderful dance moves with unparalleled accuracy. It’s absolutely astounding amounts of fun, and is particularly amusing to watch others play, particularly when they have absolutely no natural rhythm whatsoever.

Another appealing aspect to me when I first heard about Kinect was the implementation of voice commands. I liked the idea of being able to order my Xbox about like some kind of gaming god.  Sadly, this doesn’t live up to its potential. You can order your Xbox to close and open up a few things, but other than that it’s pretty limited. I really wanted to order it to make me a cup of tea and get me a biscuit. Come on Microsoft, get with the programme.

I don’t have a lot of negative criticism for Kinect other than the fact that the launch titles aren’t superb. The ones I’ve got are fun, but the rest don’t appeal to me in the slightest.  I’m hoping that 2011 will hold many great things for Kinect, including some surprises that do wonderful stuff with the tech that we don’t know about yet. Apparently a Gears of War Kinect game is rumoured to be in the works, so that should be interesting to see.  Overall I’m happy to say that my time with Kinect so far has been very fun. As a more hardcore than casual gamer, the fact that Kinect has won me over with casual games is a significant step forward in forever bridging the gap between these two labels. Here’s hoping more people realise just how fun Kinect can be.

About David Scarpitta

I am a critical guy, and love to review and give my professional opinion on just about anything. Though have a love for tech/gaming and music alongside the cinema. You can catch me consulting and developing the net any day of the week.