I’m so far behind on topics I want to discuss. I hope to catch up around the holidays, but hey, that’s where I am right now, so just giving you guys a head’s up.

I got to try the fabled Kinect, the latest entry in the “Motion Control War”, where Microsoft proudly proclaims “Where You Are The Controller”. A friend of mine picked it up, and invited me over to check it out, so here are my impressions of how it works, and does it surpass what the Wii does?

I played Kinect Sports, which is obviously Microsoft’s take on Wii Sports. Let’s be honest: All of these early Kinect offerings are what are the most popular on Wii: Party games, mini games, etc. While I understand the logic behind this, I don’t agree with it. Nintendo is starting to show signs of slowly stepping away from it, and while these genres drew in the Wii crowd, I’m sure it will get some here. Thing is, Wii’s motion control comes with the system. Kinect is a $150 upgrade.

But the proof is in the tech, and to its credit, it’s intriguing. Very much so. I played their version of bowling, and found it to be a much more immersive experience. Kinect is not only your right arm with some control in your left. It’s full body, and what impressed me more wasn’t the actual game mechanics, but the experience itself. All that was missing from bowling was the beer (later provided), the nachos (sadly not), and that general smell of feet in a bowling alley (not missed at all).

After flubbing my turn at bowling, I turned to complain to my friends how I was robbed (and rightly so, because what game can truly capture my particular range of awesome after all). But out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my Avatar was doing everything exactly how I was, from neck and back position, to the gesticulations my virtual rant was creating. It truly captures a more than satisfactory range of human movement.

And so I had to experiment. I had my Avatar doing the robot, slapping that booty, and every other ridiculous gesture I could think of, and admittedly, I was impressed. It’s versatile, and overall accurate (my Avatar made a few angles that no human could ever perform if I tried too hard).

We tried track and field, and volleyball, and boxing. Boxing is again, a deeper experience, and I never felt like what I was doing was not represented onscreen. Volleyball showed me that it can register jumps, and track and field showed me how woefully out of shape I was. That, and it captures running mechanics pretty well, though I couldn’t quite capture the right tempo as my friend did. It reminded me a lot of the NES World Class Track Meet for the Power Pad, sans crouching and pounding the pad with my fists.

There’s also the matter of recording videos while playing and that… that is a sad spectacle. Funny for victory dances, but yeah, I wouldn’t expect to “share” videos as the title so “graciously” suggests. But there were some great laughs to be had out of the experience.

So is Kinect the next revolution? No, but it is a solid evolution. Bear in mind, the Wii tech has been on the market for four years now, and time has improved and perfected the overall tech. The problem for me still lies in the software, however. I could see myself getting Kinect Sports as it is a much more responsive an experience, but I don’t need or want more “Wii too” games.

I’ve said earlier that Michael Jackson: The Experience will likely be my Kinect catalyst as I now know how versatile the Kinect experience is, but I’ll be ready to see what deeper game experiences are offered. Wii is finally starting to provide a little more in that regard, but I really hope Kinect’s transition is significantly shorter.

For a “controllerless controller”, Kinect has some great potential, and an impressive start. But it’s really going to depend on the software, and how diverse the software is, and how creative the programmers are.

If I can get an awesome RPG out of this experience, count me in.

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Filed under: kinectxbox 360 gaming