Ok, so what’s up with this Microsoft Kinect thingy you ask? Some of us ghouls here at Reaper Towers decided to get drunk and give it a good old test run for ya all just so we could answer that very question. There are lots of reviews out there on the individual games for Kinect but were just going to share our experience with you and let ya take from it what you will… We had a go of Kinect Sports, Dance Central and Kinectimals… yep, I said Kinectimals! It might take awhile to get through our drunken night so I hope you enjoy the rundown.
The night began with a few vodkas followed by a pint of Guinness… Oh yeah, the games, well we first had to go through the whole Kinect setup. This was surprisingly painless as we got our Blind Side G to do all the work while the rest of us sat drinking, it was fun. The Kinect needed to be tuned for the light of the room, facial recognition, voice recognition, and general positioning. The instructions were so clear and straight forward that even a retard could follow them, which is why we had a spot of bother with lining up a cardboard picture card with the visuals onscreen… but that was not Kinect’s fault. All in all it was a lengthy but painless experience and even kind of interesting in a geeky way. Then we tried some of the navigation options, you can control certain parts of your dashboard by hand gestures and voice commands, this is a real novelty and will eventually be standard practice I imagine, although it is limited at the present. Never mind Kinect, cant wait till all TV’s have this built in feature… It will happen people we are one step closer too the lazy mans Utopia!
So several drinks in and we were ready to play, first on the menu was Kinect Sports. Now this initially looks like a rip off of Wii Sports… and it is for the most part. The whole thing is cute and family friendly, barf! After playing god by making the crowd do some Mexican waves and creating fireworks on the menu screen we then tried to sort out the teams. The Kinect was pretty good at recognising us all individually which was cool but we had some trouble choosing a custom setup, maybe it was the booze kicking in but we couldn’t seem to change players without always having to quit out of a game and go to the main menu, which is fairly big flaw in the game design. That said you can have actual teams but we couldn’t quite figure that shit out either, regardless we ploughed on.
Bowling was first, being the perfect lads and beer type game and it was great fun. The responsiveness is impressive and it seems to really notice the curl of your arm in order to give some spin. Overall if felt quite realistic if perhaps a bit on the easy side, I even broke the floor of the ally with a sloppy throw, just like real life! The only issue occurred if you ended up putting your hand behind your back, the sensor didn’t like that and would botch the throw as a result which lead to many colourful abusive words… hopefully the Kinect isn’t sensitive to insults.
Next was some footy, it is basic stuff and would be pretty lame on your own but it was good fun in two player, mostly because we found that we were accidentally kicking each other in the process. It ended up with everyone cheating and pushing or just getting in the other persons way as much as possible, which was good laugh. The kicking was quite responsive but the goalies arm mimicking and general responsiveness wasn’t great unfortunately but again we can see the potential for future versions of this down the line. Overall it was great party fun and well worth playing with friends.
We then moved on to track and field… oh sweet Jesus was that hard! Running on the spot isn’t as fun as it looks, even the ‘Fit’ lads in the group were having trouble. I have one piece of advice for any male players, wear tight shorts for this! Lose boxers are not ideal because your ball bag will be bounced around to a painful level and it will cost you the race as you stop to grab your crotch in battered discomfort… I speak from experience. Also make sure that there are no wobbly tables or precariously placed items nearby cos the vibration of two people running on the spot sounds and vibrates like a herd of elephants. Nut and structural damage aside this is good fun but very exhausting and not for drunken unfit people.
With what little energy that was left we tried out the Javelin, Discus followed by the Long jump and then some nasty Hurdles. All were pretty fun with the Javelin being the most intuitive and easiest to control. The Discus was a bit of a letdown as instinctively we would reach back as far as possible to then throw the disc but the sensor was losing track of the throwing hand and the results were pathetic, partially the players fault but also partly the sensors too I recon as it should expect people to simulate the method that is on screen… partly the demon drink.
Long Jump was difficult to get the timing right and always felt a bit laggy on the jump part, we had to compensate and try jump earlier than the visual indicator in order to succeed. Hurdles were well tough and the running and jumping were surprisingly difficult to master but the responsiveness was better than some of the other games and again my balls we in agony… at this point we were feeling as energetic as the late John Candy, so we did the sensible thing and took a smoke break.
Some drink fuelled gaming debate ensued and then we got a second wind which gave us enough stamina to try out a bit of boxing. Personally this was the one I had been looking forward to and unfortunately it was the worst game in the pack. Yes you can dodge, upper cut and block but if your opponent is doing a ‘Macarena’ style punching then none of it matters. It just becomes a contest of who can Macarena the fastest, basically… it sucks and I was well disappointed. It’s better in single player but if you start getting pummelled then you know what to do… ehhh Macarena – yeah!
Table tennis was great and probably the most responsive game in the set. Putting spin and speed on the ball works well and once you learn how to serve properly the whole experience is very enjoyable… until your human opponent starts slapping you in the face by accident with their paddle hand, but at least the ball sack is safe in this one. At this point we were totally fooked and the thoughts of playing volley ball was a bridge too far… so we had more booze and smokes.
During our rest I wanted to have a go of Kinectimals, that’s the one with all the cuddly lion cubs… stop laughing at me!!! It was actually really, really good! You start off having to pick your cub and name the furry lil fecker, this of course resulted in many obscene ideas and much profanity which was good laugh in itself. Then we got a tutorial from some winged pixie type freak which was well done and great for the kiddies but not a bunch of drunken men… Eventually we got to actually play with our pet, teach it tricks and most fun of all play some mini games. It was really cool. Lying on the floor to copy you cat and playing catch really immerses you into the game world and you have that vibe of being a kid again. Driving, throwing and puzzle mini games make up most of the fun but there is a points and money structure in place so as you can advance through to new areas and buy new items for your pet, it’s a proper game not just a virtual petting zoo. Personally it is the best Kinect title I’ve seen or played to date. The game engine is great and very intuitive to use, plus, if you apply this control system to other more serious games you could have something very clever. Would you believe that we played Kinectimals for nearly two hours, everyone who watched was in fascination of the beautiful visuals and the entertaining game play, it really surprised all of us, plus the achievements were flowing like booze in a brothel, yay, score for me! Kinectimals is a bit of a guilty pleasure but it’s very relaxing to play and well worth investigating if only from a technical point of view. If you have a kid that would play this then get it and have a go yourself, if not then it’s unlikely you would really bother with Kinectimals, perhaps a rent if you’re having some buddies over and are interested in seeing the game mechanic while treating the gang to a good laugh.
After that little chill out secession we moved on to Dance Central, it was now about four am and we were well oiled. Everyone but me seems to love this and feel that it’s the best Kinect game out there… fine. Personally I don’t get it, don’t get me wrong it is quite good, I just don’t see it as the messiah of Kinect. Regardless, we had fun with it, the moves are complex enough depending on the song and the motion tracking works very well. There are good onscreen helpers to get you back into the rhythm when you’re having trouble and overall it is quite enjoyable depending on how much you like dancing in the first place. What is really cool is that it takes a movie of you at certain points of your limb wobbling mambo and plays it all back to you at the end of the song… this is a great source of slagging material and will have you doubled over in laughter as you get to see just how retarded you look as you flay about like a man on fire. M.C. Hammer… watch your back!
We were too physically pooped to take on Kinect Adventures by then so we will have to give you an update on that and a few of the other games we have for Kinect the next time we get to have a marathon game night. We did continue however, by playing Rockband 3 till about nine am and that was fab too! All in all we had a great night that left us looking forward to try out more Kinect and we were quite pleasantly surprised by the device.
I have always said that this controller less controller had great potential for future gaming. Just imagine in Mass Effect 4 if you could talk to the characters instead of choosing a text option or having to de-code puzzles of defuse bombs using your hands, all great possibilities that I’m sure will come in time. We were a bit dismissive of the current release titles prior to launch because it all looked a bit too cuddly and kiddie focused but we have to admit that perhaps it was a mistake to write them off too early. Although the technology involved in Kinect is not a particularly new one as parts of it has been used in other areas for years, it has now been cleverly harnessed for games and as a result Microsoft has surprised allot of gamers. Currently it is an interesting and fun device that is great for parties and family gaming but what it is capable of in the near future is what makes it truly exciting. So, to the hard core gamer I say… watch this space and never say never! Plus – watch you’re Balls!