Ease of Use
This is one area where Move has thrown up some difficulties. First, the system is sensitive to lighting conditions, and in many games we’ve had to close curtains during daylight hours to get the Move working properly. Secondly, camera placement and field of view are critical issues. Move can struggle in smaller areas to get two players in the frame, and - in some titles - adults and kids playing together is a virtual no-no. Otherwise, using Move is usually painless. True, games generally have their own calibration systems, and some require recalibration in-between mini-games, levels or events, but at worst this usually involves pointing the Move controller at the PlayStation Eye and pressing a button, or holding the controller in three different positions. It’s a minor irritant, not a real annoyance.
We won’t know exactly how easy it is to get Kinect up and running until the full review. From what we do know, we know that setup is supposed to be largely automated, relying on the motorised stand to keep the players in the frame. Microsoft has also been open about the fact that Kinect will need players to stand six feet away from the sensor for an 'optimal’ experience and that the surrounding floor should be clear of furniture and clutter. However, we’ve also been told that, if you have a smaller room, meaning the sensor can’t get all of your limbs within its field of view, then Kinect can interpolate some data and keep games playable. We’ll see when our review unit arrives.
What is immediately impressive about Kinect is that there seems to be little or no calibration involved. Players can enter many games just by stepping into the sensor’s field of view, and Kinect uses facial recognition to sign you in to an existing Xbox Live profile where possible. We don’t know what routines Kinect goes into to scan your body and create a skeletal map, but it just seems to work, and work very well.
Sony has integrated Move functionality into the PlayStation 3‘s Cross Media Bar (XMB) interface. Hold the trigger and move the controller left and right, or tilt it forward and backwards and you can select games, movies, and settings, just as you would with the conventional Dual Shock 3 controller. You can also use the Move controller to handle media playback, flicking left and right to skip forwards and backwards. To be honest, though, it’s easier to use the Dual Shock 3 or a remote control. We’d hope to see Move used more for this kind of thing in the future, particularly as Sony has been showcasing some impressive user interface demos featuring more advanced gesture recognition and Minority Report-style controls, with an almost physical manipulation of UI elements.
In Kinect, the integration is, if anything, more pervasive. Gesture controls allow you to select any panel or option on the screen by using your hand to control an onscreen pointer and holding it over the option in question. Better still, the Dashboard is now speech enabled. “If you see it, you can say it” is Microsoft’s promise, and from what we’ve seen this covers everything from selecting a game to play, to searching through the Zune marketplace for a movie, to using the Sky Player app to watch TV. You have to preface any command with the word “Xbox”, and while the dashboard is listening for commands, you’ll get a selection of context-sensitive suggestions at the bottom of the screen. So far, we’re impressed.