Product Type: Microsoft game controllers
Newest Review: ... up but takes time. They do provide you with a smiley face on a card to help calibrate your Kinect but this doesn't help the fact that it m... more
Kinect me up
Member Name: NinjaBaz
Date: 09/05/11, updated on 18/05/11 (17 review reads)
Advantages: The best 'non-controller' system available, full 3D body sensing system with infra-red camera, Skype
Disadvantages: Need a large area for play, maximum of 2 players at a time, Expensive
**What is it?**
The 'Kinect' sensor bar is an optional purchase for owners of the Microsoft XBOX 360 games console, and enables the user to play games (Kinect compatible titles only) using their whole body movements tracked by the 3 cameras on the sensor bar.
**What does it cost?**
Kinect retailed at around £100-£115 on launch but can now be picked up for around £80, and came bundled with a Kinect compatible game called Kinect Adventures. This game was widely seen as an introduction to how the Kinect worked and show what capabilities it had. For the fact that the game was 'free', it is actually pretty good fun in 2 player mode with several different game and party modes, including white water rafting, a breakout type ball blocking game and an Indiana Jones style 'runaway coal cart' game!
**How does it work?**
As previously mentioned, the Kinect sensor contains 3 separate cameras (2 running at 320×240 and 640×480 in high color). The cameras also run at 30 Frames per Second, so the action is always going to be portrayed on screen ever so slightly behind the live movement, but this is hardly noticeable.
In basic terms, two cameras track the movement, size and position of the player and the other is an infrared camera that detects heat and helps construct the 3D image. Kinect also has a built in microphone which is handy for voice chat during games.
Kinect sensor is also on a pivoting stand which automatically moves depending on how tall/short or near/far a player is from the sensor. Before the games begin, the sensor will make sure the player is standing in a suitable position by carrying out a few tests. This doesn't take long so isn't much of an inconvenience.
The Kinect sensor is powered through the Xbox Slim itself, whereas users that own an older Xbox 360 will have to pay for an external 'power brick'. They are available from www.amazon.co.uk for as little as £9.99 so it's not going to break the bank should one be required.
**Is it any good?**
Yes, yes it is! I have tested it with a handful of games and in the main it is very accurate at tracking you, whilst transferring that tracking into the game correctly.
I'd recommend standing at least 2 metres from the sensor, and if playing with a second player it is better if you have full arms length between you both. I have a smallish front room and sometimes found if the players were doing a move that required them to get too close in the middle, the sensor can get confused and struggles to differentiate between them. Also, make sure you remove all obstructions such as coffee tables and small children! Try to move sofas back as far as they can be moved too.
As well as games, the Kinect sensor can be used through the XBox 360 dashboard to make Skype calls to other people on your friend list that own Kinect. Although this sounds quite limited, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before there is full XBox to Skype functionality...especially as Microsoft have just bought Skype.
Kinect has rivals in the PS3 'Move' system and the Nintendo Wii. For me, the Wii being based on the old Nintendo Gamecube technology, games are looking really dated now. Having not used PS3 Move, I can't really compare but will only say that Kinect is the only body control system that doesn't require any additional controller to be held, as Move requires the use of 2 'lollipops', so is not really full body sensing.
Minor quibbles would be that it has a maximum of 2 players at a time due to field of view constraints of the sensor. There also only seems to be a few genres of games that will work well with this system, as with all 'non-controller' based systems. Also, a game that should work really well with Kinect is Virtua Tennis 4...however, it has disappointed many players to find that the game has only had partial Kinect controls implemented for certain game modes, and not very well at that.
Anyway, in conclusion I'd say that £80 is much more reasonable for the technology it contains, but can see it coming down further in future months. As with all new technology, it won't come into its own until developers get to grips with what it is capable of....but I'd still like to see more genres using it rather than just sports, fitness and dancing games.
Summary: So much scope for future use, but does need to have more games available
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