So, I had been tempted to get the PS3 Move and actually held one in my hand at Best Buy on the first day it came out. I just could not get myself to pull the trigger. I mean, I thought it was cool, and I wanted one, but it seemed to be just a Wii+. Ya know?
Well… I’d been hearing about the Kinect since it was called Natal… Remember that? Still not sure why they changed the name when they had so much buzz going early on… Here’s a great video of it back when it was first announced…
Anyway, after it was announced in what May of 2009? the renamed Kinect came out on November 4th. I hemmed and I hawed.. Do I get a Kinect or do I get a Move? I like the concept of Kinect, but could it possibly live up to all they hype? Also, I’ve always been a fan of Playstations, and I love my PS3. Microsoft does a lot of little things that really annoy me with the Xbox as opposed to the PS3 like charging for Xbox Live Gold Membership… I mean, we are a family of 4… that adds up… Sony’s Playstation network is free. You can’t do much with just a Silver Membership including use Netflix! I find that completely absurd. I can get Netflix on Windows Media Center, Wii, my laptop, and my PS3 all for free… if I want to watch it on my Xbox I have to upgrade.. that’s lame Microsoft… love you guys, but that’s lame.
I also have a projector that I like to play games on, but the projector screen comes down over the consoles. The Xbox control’s signal will not go through the screen, but the PS3 control has no problems at all. Add in Blue-ray support, easily sticking in another drive, the awesome game Socom, and the before mentioned free use of Netflix and I usually lean towards the PS3.
Thus my consternation between choosing Move or Kinect. I even had a conversation with my buddy Matt Bremer (@mattbremer) on Twitter about it. He pointed out that you have to buy a Move controller for every player, buy batteries or charge the Move controller, and well, the Kinect is just really cool. However, what finally made me decide to pull the trigger was a tweet by my other good friend Josh Carlisle (@joshcarlisle) who tweeted:
“man the #kinect rocks! UPS guy just got here had it running in 15 minutes - immediately passed the wife test and she's a harsh critic!”
Okay, my wife can be a harsh critic too, especially when it comes to electronic toys. If it can pass the wife test, then I need to go ahead and get me one of these. So, I asked my skeptical but supportive wife to pick one up while she was out, and she did. That night, I took it out of the box, plugged it up, and turned it on…
Stuff I like
Originally I had these next two sections as “the good” and “the bad”, but I thought that was too subjective. So, I renamed them… you may or may not agree with me…
So, the whole concept of the Kinect is really cool.. Your body is the controller. It detects your arms, legs, squatting, jumping, etc… This is a HUGE advance over the Wii and makes the Wii look almost archaic. With the Wii you could “fake” big swings of the remote or you would hit “dead spots” that would cause games to glitch (I don’t think I ever made it through 18 holes of Tiger Woods without wanting to throw the remote through the TV). I know the PS3 Move supposedly addressed a lot of these limitations, and I’d still take one if someone wanted to send me one.. hint.. hint… but there is just something epically cool about being able to walk in front of your Xbox and have it recognize who you are and log you in automatically…
Talking to your Xbox
Now you can talk to you Xbox and tell it to sign you in, pause, play, etc.. this is a very cool feature which I haven’t fully explored yet, but will likely turn my Xbox into the media player of choice (except for my Blue-ray movies on my projector screen). Video chat which I also have not played with much also sounds cool.
So, the concept of the Kinect is cool, but so is the reality. This thing actually works and works well. It’s very good at distinguishing between two players if two people are playing. It seems to do three dimensions really well if you are moving forward and backward, and it can quickly change between users when someone new stands in front of it. There’s just something super cool about moving your hand up and down to view menu choices and then swiping your hand to make a selection… It just feels cool…
The Kid Factor
Do you have kids? Then you HAVE to get the Kinect. As cool as I think it is, my kids LOVE this thing.. they will play the Adventures game that comes with it until they are tired and sweating. Do you know how hard it is to get an 8 and 9 year old to DO something sometimes? The past two mornings the kids didn’t turn on Phineus and Ferb or some other tv show, they turned on Kinect Adventures and were jumping around in a raft or dodging obstacles, or kicking a ball in rally ball.. they are getting exercise… by choice! In fact they are down stairs now dancing to “Just Dance” on Dance Central…
So, the possibilities with Kinect are phenomenal on two fronts. I see the Kinect as being THE cool toy to have for party games and I see it being the next big thing for home fitness. We had a bunch of friends over playing on this thing for hours. They were dancing to Dance Central and playing the Adventures games.. and these are people in their 30’s and 40’s and they were loving it! Also, there are a lot of fitness games coming out for this and it totally makes sense! Now that your actual body movements can be tracked think of all the possibilities for things like aerobics. Pilates, yoga, even Karate maybe someday? I know I was getting a little tired after dancing a few times on Dance Central (please don’t close your eyes and imagine me dancing by the way). Anyway, the Kinect makes Wii Fit look like a piece of garbage and a waste of floor space. In fact, anyone want a good deal on a gently used Wii Fit??? We will not turn it on again.
Things to be aware of
Again, this section used to be called “The Bad”, but there’s really not anything “BAD” about the Kinect that’ I’ve noticed yet, but there are some things you need to be aware of… So read through the following and take them into account before you go out and buy one of these bad boys.
Do you have enough room?
Regardless of what you read, when I play Adventures it gives me an active play area about 8 feet wide and 9 feet deep with the Kinect 4 feet off the floor. You can set a smaller play area, but I think you’ll need the extra space. Make sure you have enough room to play because you’ll be moving around a lot.
How tall is your ceiling?
I set up the Kinect in my man cave in the basement… well, the man cave has 8 foot ceilings and a ceiling fan directly over what ends up being the playing area. This is not too big a deal for us folks built like a little tea pot as long as we don’t reach our arms way up when we jump, however some of our taller friends have to be more careful when jumping. So besides making sure you have enough play area on the floor,look up and make sure you aren’t going to be hitting anything above your head.
Make sure you have enough lighting if you want the Kinect to recognize you. I have a fairly well lit basement, but the Kinect was not able to recognize me until I took the shade off of a lamp (and I’m standing directly under a light). This is not a huge deal because you can still play most games although there are some features where it is necessary for the Kinect to be able to identify you.
So, I can tell there are some performance issues with Kinect. This is most evident in the Rally Ball game in Adventures. There is a very noticeable lag when you are trying to block that ball with your body if you move too fast. This concerns me a little because how will this lag impact fighting games and sports games? Am I going to get frustrated because it says I didn’t duck and I actually did? It’s not a deal killer by any stretch, but I’m afraid it might limit some of Kinect’s potential.
So… the Kinect is cool, it’s fun, and it’s worth the $150. If you have a kid with an Xbox 360 then this is THE gift to get them for Christmas. Kids love it, teenagers love it, old farts like me love it, and it passes the wife test. If the Kinect and the Wii had come out at the same time the Wii would have never succeeded like it has. As far as I’m concerned the Kinect makes the Xbox THE console to have for party games. period. Sorry Nintendo, time for you to step it up again. Loved the Wii, but right now it is a really expensive paper weight.
This does lead me to my final concern about Kinect, as cool as this thing is, does id have any real or lasting value for hard core gamers? What about those people who could care less about party games or sports games? How in the world will a game like Call of Duty be pulled off on the Kinect? You will almost certainly have to carry some sort of control to detect guns being fired in an FPS. How would you select a grenade to throw it? How do you do anything that is accomplished by pushing a button on a controller (besides jumping and ducking)? Will this be the Kinect’s Achilles heel or will some genius figure out a game that will blow everyone away? Can you imaging playing Spider man and actually making the gestures to shoot a web or swing from a web? What about playing a Harry Potter game and actually have to pronounce a spell correctly out loud? The possibilities here are huge, but will they ever happen? Who knows, maybe they already have?
Regardless, the Kinect is revolutionary from a gaming perspective. It is to gaming, what the iPhone was to smart phones. We are living in very cool times if you are a geek like me.
Thanks again for stopping by, please tell me your thoughts as well.
Oh yeah… this is pretty cool.. for the next 6 days (Until November 13th, 2010) you can buy one Kinect game and get another at 50% off from Amazon: