Post Subject: Xbox 360 Kinect Review
Posted on: Nov 10, 2010
Before I really get moving this this review, I think it's important to note that this is more focused at the kinect itself, and not the specific gaming content, though this will of course touch on that as it's part of the experience.
I want to say, that when I first started hearing about the kinect a while back, I really liked the idea, but I was fairly skeptical. Drawing on memories of some of those poorly placed web cam games back in the day, the motion tracking was laggy, and honestly, the game creativity just wasn't there.
So what is the kinect? The hardware is pretty far beyond just a web cam, but that is still one of the main components. Aside from the camera, there is a multi-array microphone as well as a depth sensor. On top of this, there is of course a bunch of specialized software for bringing it all together. The depth sensor is what really heightens the experience. This allows the Kinect to track direction beyond just side to side movement, and I will say, I've been very impressed with the tracking accuracy as well as the speed as it's in or extremely close to real time.
Some of the features...
Voice recognition - This is a cool feature, but it feel like it's still in its infancy. The commands, while helpful, largely only work from the Kinect hub. I'm really looking forward to seeing this integrated into many of the dashboard features, and I'd assume it'll only be a matter of time. But if you are in the Kinect Hub, all options are accessible by voice commands. Additionally, some of the apps within the hub are voice controlled. Commands such as Xbox, Play, and Xbox, Pause, are pretty cool to show off.
Gesture Recognition - This was a great feature that I hadn't thought about initially. When you are playing Kinect games, you are the remote, so there aren't options for things like the xbox button. Instead there is a gesture you can use for this which is very similar to hitting the xbox button.
Facial Recognition - This is one of the features that really impressed me, and seeing how it was used in some of the gameplay was even more interesting. Once you step into the Kinect, it's able to recognize your face and sign you into your xbox live account.
Now for the first hand experience.
The game play is pretty cool, I have to admit. It is very similar to the wii in game play, except that your entire body is the controller. Some of the movements have you moving back and forth, swinging your arms, kicking your legs, and even jumping up and down.
The tracking is far better than I had expected. Like I mentioned earlier, it can track your movement with pretty decent accuracy in any direction. This makes the game far more interesting since you're not just playing a 2D game now.
Some of the other cooler features (and I expect to see more and more of these as developers continue to really push gaming for the kinect), was something I noticed while playing the game that came with the kinect, Kinect Adventures. We first thought this was just a single player game, and two of us were taking turns each round, until we noticed, that as one of us stepped out of the camera, it would sign one player out and recognize the new player and sign them in. These really are some of the kinds of features I could get used to...
Pros and Cons
The pro's really cover all the new ways for game play. Like I've said a number of times in this review already, I'm really looking forward to seeing how the development continues to improve in the future.
But to break it into list form....
- Pros would have to be...
- Facial Recognition
- Full Motion Tracking
- Integrated webcam and mic
- Voice Commands
- You need a pretty nice open space for game play, especially if you want to play multi player rounds.
- Voice commands don't recognize an individual voice, just the commands, so it's easy for voice commands to be issued at random times, and if someone, like your sister for example, wants to entertain themselves, they'll just just yelling out commands.
I'm really going to be following future headlines being made about the Kinect. Beyond just game play, I think this could do a lot of cool stuff for the xbox interface as a whole. Additionally, I am really looking forward to seeing development for this as a tool for the PC and a number of other areas. One group has already begun unlocking the interface for the PC. The most basic applications for this I imagine would start with photo recognition logins, and from there, who knows, computer interfaces similar to the movie minority report?
I do have to admit, from just seeing the Kinect demos on youtube from Microsoft, my interest was peeked. When I purchased the Kinect I was even more impressed. Now I'm just hoping that development for this continues to push more and more features from it. If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress?