Thursday, December 02, 2010


With the news that the Playstation Move is outselling the Microsoft Kinect (though as expected you can take the metrics with a pinch of salt) it reminds me that though I've mentioned using Move I've yet to relate my experiences of Kinect.

First off though I stated that the calibration on the Move is annoying and I just couldn't get it to work. I then read the manual more thoroughly for the controller, not just the one for the camera, and discovered you're supposed to head into the XMB to calibrate it first. Having watched someone try to demo the system in-store and fail miserably I wonder how many others are missing out that stage?

Anyway to the Kinect. I don't know anyone with one at the moment so this was an in-store demonstration; this meant the microphone wasn't working just the movement sensors. First difficulty was getting out of the menu and into a game. The hand appears on screen but doesn't sync up to your own palm. It keeps admonishing you to wave at the screen, yet it just wouldn't register it. Eventually after sacrificing a chicken and praying to the Old Ones it finally deigned to notice me and it moved around. I'm sure this is in the manual but there's no instruction over how to activate a button once you're over it; I saw people shaking their hands at it and it seemed to sometime read it, sometimes not. I closed my fingers down into my palm and it picked it up every time.

Into a raft game and I think this is as good a demo as any. You're in a raft floating down a stream trying to collect the floating coins (whatever?). Lean to the left and it moves left, lean to the right and it moves right, jump and it jumps. It was responsive and I didn't notice any lag, others note that seems to depend on the game. Standing by myself  I was the only one on screen, when I invited a young women to join me it happily placed her by my side in the correct position and distinguished between us. It even managed to give me a male avatar and her a female one, impressive. When she or I left the correct avatar blinked out. What we didn't try was swapping places, but it wouldn't surprise me if it wasn't fooled by that either.

I said there seemed no lag, and their wasn't it terms of the game, but there was in terms of mine own reflexes. Again this is something others have spotted the reaction between an on-screen event and moving a stick or controller seems a lot quicker than moving your entire body around. It may be that practice makes perfect, but as it stands events on-screen really seemed to flash by.

So how was it? Tiring - very tiring one simple level left me a little worn out. That may be due to my fitness level, the fact I'd already been shopping for two hours, or the heating in store (or a combination); but be that as it may this is tiring. It may work with you sitting on your sofa and tilting and throwing your arms in the air to jump, but I think that could just be as exhausting.

Also that movement comes at another price and that's space. Trying this in store just highlighted how much you need. A fair size space had been cleared but it still felt crowded more so when you have two players; if there are games that support more than that you're going to need your own dancefloor.

Final verdict - for what it is it works and does so well, but the movement aspects I see ending up like the Wii - a novelty that grips everyone until they realise what a pain it is to shift furniture, and leave you sweating by the end of it. The voice control aspects may be what sells this and all that needs is a microphone, which incidentally comes built into the PS3 camera. If I'm right perhaps we can expect voice control to arrive on the PS3 as part of an update?