Friday, November 5, 2010

xBox Kinect - first impressions

Spent a few hours with the new xBox Kinect yesterday, by myself and then later on with two friends. Setup was miraculously easy and even exciting; just plug in and follow the simple prompts. Microsoft uses symphonic sound recognition to locate you in the room to dramatic effect. The Kinect camera(s) nod up and down, scanning your body. Standing the suggested distance from the TV, I was already shifting my weight from side to side, anxious and smiling.

Kinect Adventures, the game that comes with Kinect, is a gleeful mash-up of gymnasium obstacle courses, white water rafting, zero gravity “bubble busting”, and handball. Together, the adventures don’t make a whole lot of sense, but they’re incredibly fun and addicting. I found myself panting at the end of jumping and dodging Ninja Warrior style barriers thinking just one more round. An hour later, I felt like I had just run a mile.

Later in the night, after a brief Tao Lin reading and drinking buckets of Budweiser, we got back home and turned on the Kinect. You know an interactive game system is successful when the least of your athletic friends won’t to go bed because they want to leap over foam hurdles and smash a few more wooden crates. All three of us were laughing our avatar heads off.

Other games that are our for the Kinect don’t look that exciting yet. There’s stock exercise and racing titles and one where you adopt tiger cubs. The fighting game got mediocre reviews. But there are a new upcoming titles that sound mind-blowing – a WWII mech, steam punk shooter and a game where you ride dragons. Yes!

Analysis? Complete success. Wii is probably over. Playstation’s new wand controller (that looks like a personal massager) will only succeed if it is as precise as they are marketing it to be. Or if is doubles as a personal massager. I say too little too late. Microsoft and xBox can always upgrade Kinect with downloadable updates and add-ons.

So, if you haven’t Kinected yet, you should. Gaming will never be the same again.

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