That said, we’ve yet to be convinced by Kinect’s abilities with more traditional styles of game. There is, for example, a Kinect-exclusive mode for the upcoming Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows game where you blast Death-Eaters with spells using gesture controls in a series of scenes you explore on-rails. However, we found the controls imprecise and unresponsive, with little room for aim or finesse.
Likewise, the fighting game, Fighters Uncaged, gets around the lag issue by telegraphing enemy kicks and punches and using simplified gestures instead of real blows, which means it lacks the visceral feel of Move’s similar The Fight: Lights Out.
And while we’re willing to put our disastrous efforts to play Sonic Free Riders - a Mario Kart-style hoverboarding game - down to inexperience, it still felt difficult to pick up and hard to accurately control, much as we liked stretching out a hand to grab extra rings from the course, or using other hand movements to fling missiles at opponents.
This might be where Move makes its mark. It already boasts superior light gun games in The Shoot and Time Crisis: Razing Storm, not to mention excellent Move-powered versions of Heavy Rain, Ruse and Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf 11 (and a partially successful version of Resident Evil 5).
Much rests on how Little Big Planet 2, Killzone 3 and the promising fantasy adventure, Sorcery, make use of Move; Sony needs to convince its core audience that Move isn’t just a decent way to play these games; it’s actually the best way.
And this brings us to the key issue here. With Move, Sony isn’t trying to sell a new platform, but give PS3 owners a new way to enjoy their games, while encouraging a few floating buyers to look at a PS3 instead of a Wii. With Move, Sony also seems desperate not to alienate the core audience.
Everything’s a bit hipper than with Kinect or Wii, and while this helps Move games slot in with existing Sony properties like Singstar, Little Big Planet and Buzz, it can get in the way of making Move’s more family-focused titles accessible and fun. All the same, Move is selling steadily, and there’s no reason why that won’t continue, particularly if Sony can find that elusive killer app.
With Kinect, there’s a distinct feeling that Microsoft isn’t really concerned with how the new tech gels with the existing Xbox 360 user-base. After all, the hardcore gamers are already getting Halo: Reach, Fable III and a raft of big third-party titles, and they don’t care about party games anyway. Instead, it’s clear that Kinect is pulling out every stop to hit the Wii’s broader, family audience, and that it might just have a shot at making inroads. We’ll wait until the full review before we can deliver the definitive verdict, but Kinect has something of the ‘wow’ factor that helped Wii build such a buzz at launch. Kinect won’t be for everyone, but only the most deluded cynic would write it off quite yet.