Seven years ago Sony released the most state-of-the-art motion sensor technology, the Eye-Toy. Basically, you'd place an Eye-Toy camera on top of your TV and the game would automatically separate you from your background, much like how Apple's PhotoBooth generates backgrounds for you without chroma keying. However, for whatever reason, the Eye-Toy hype died down, Sony gave up on motion sensor technology, and most people forgot about it.
Then, a few years ago, Nintendo decided to give its try at motion sensor technology with the Wii. It was immediately a huge hit, as you well know. However, I'm not sure if you've ever tried playing a game that was supposed to involve moving your entire body, such as a dance game, on the Wii, but even if you haven't played it, you know it's very easy to fake–just swing the controller and the game will think you're actually getting exercise. Well, if that's what you've enjoyed in the past and are looking forward to the newest advancement in monition sensor, have I got bad news for you!
The Kinect for the Xbox 360 does exactly what the Wii (and PlayStation Move) have failed to do. They force every bone in your body to be utilized during gameplay.
The first Kinect game I got to try was one where I was racing a friend in a 200m hurdles race. I literally had to run in place for my "avatar" to move, and the intensity of my running effected my character's speed. When a hurdle came around, the Kinect would notice if I literally jumped, or just faked it. As any female will attest to, just fakin' it doesn't cut it. I had to get some air or I'd risk running into the hurdle. (Don't worry though, even as as Kinect noob I still won my race).
Next was a game by the name of Kinect Adventure. My partner and I were placed on an inflatable raft and sent through rapids. To move the raft to the right, we would each have to step to the right, and vice versa for the left. If we wanted to go off of a jump, we'd have to jump. And if only one of us left the ground, the raft would not get as much air as if we both had.
Finally, I got to try Wii Sports' Bowling, except without a controller. It was pretty much the same game, slightly better graphics, but you just move your arm back and throw if forward to release the ball. If you want to add spin, simply follow through to the right or left rather than straight up.
After leaving my testing center, I went into the E3 hall and got to witness the strongest upgrade over the Wii or PS Move: Dance Central. This was a dancing game, very similar to Just Dance, which is basically Guitar Hero but for dancing. However, this game took full advantage of the Kinect technology. When I say, "You had to move your entire body seamlessly to the choreography on the screen to get a perfect score," I mean it. You'll never catch me playing this game, but for all those Lady Gaga or So You Think You Can Dance wannabe's, this is the game that will teach you the moves you need to know, I promise.
I was clearly a huge fan of the games, but my biggest concern wasn't whether or not something "fun" could be created by video game producers, but rather, how good would the technology be. I'm not sure the setup process required when you get a brand new Kinect, but I do know that there was no recalibration required between testings, or games. Also, what I think makes this technology by far the most state-of-the-art, is that while you and a friend are in the middle of an intense race, your mom can walk right across the TV without interrupting your gameplay performance. Yes, the Kinect is officially Mom-Distraction Proof.
I really can't think of a downside to this, what I will term, the "Must Have Accessory of 2010". However, as a stingy college student, I'm not sure if I'd be willing to personally dish out the $150 for the Kinect, plus whatever the cost for their games. Overall though, this was a fantastic piece of hardware that blows the Wii and PlayStation Move way out of the water. The potential for the Kinect is absolutely unlimited.
Written by: Steve Ellis