Coming Soon: Look for a chance to win an Xbox 360 with Kinect in the January 2011 issue of Boys’ Life magazine.
Microsoft’s Kinect was released to great fanfare, including a party in New York’s Times Square. But does the cool, high-tech camera that lets you play games without a controller really deliver the goods?
|KINECT (and Kinect Adventures, Kinectimals, Kinect Sports)
Microsoft for Xbox 360
Replay Value: 8.0
Overall Score: 8.0
Official Web Site
Pros: No controller needed; futuristic technology; great graphics.
Cons: Too much space needed to play; some technology hiccups; needs truly amazing game.
It certainly does—with a few exceptions.
Kinect itself looks really futuristic. And it’s easy to set up. All you need is a broadband connection and an Xbox Live account to download the update that makes it work (and to play online with friends). After you plug it in, follow onscreen directions that are so easy, it only takes between 10 and 15 minutes to set up.
Then, you hear this mysterious, robotic whizzing sound. It’s actually the motor in the camera, adjusting itself to your height and the distance you stand from the TV. But there is problem: If you have a small living room, which many apartment dwellers do, you might not have enough room to play. Make sure you have about eight feet between the television and you. Also, make sure the room is well lit. If it isn’t, your Kinect won’t see you. Sometimes, the Kinect microphone doesn’t recognize your command. So you have to say something like “Play” again.
So what about the games? Kinect Adventures, which is included in the Kinect box, is pretty awesome. Take, for example, the bubble-bursting mini game with a science-fiction theme. You move your arms and body around to rid the screen of bubbles. Most players won’t play much beyond the first 10 levels. But if you can get beyond that, this feels like more than a mini game. It’s as tough and tricky as any game you’ll play.
The white-water rafting game, which takes you through a lush river and caves, has awesome graphics. When you jump, it makes you feel like Superman, leaping tall mountains in a single bound.
Kinectimals has great graphics, too. Sure, there are cute beings in the game, very detailed wild animals that do tricks for you. But Kinectimals also has various game challenges. Some of them are like the courses in dog shows—with the added joy of an amusement-park feel.
Also, check out the sports game for Kinect. Kinect Sports gives you a zippy soccer challenge. Both bowling and volleyball games are engaging, too. I didn’t like the table tennis game, however. In the later levels, it’s too hard. You also feel like you need a real paddle to play, not just your hand.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Overall, it’s totally fun to play without a controller. But just as you did with the Wii, make sure you give yourself a break from time to time. Moving around and flailing your arms can become tiring.
Finally, what Kinect really needs is a game that’s completely different from what you’ve played on the Wii. It’s not there yet. But when (and if) it comes, watch out. It’s then that Kinect will be a real game changer.