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Xbox 360 Kinect

Summary

Our Score

8/10

Review Price £119.00

Kinect is many things. It's an advanced motion sensor, a revolutionary add-on, and Microsoft's best hope of socking it to Sony and Nintendo. Most of all, however, it's a reinvention. The clues were already there in last week's autumn dashboard update with its cheerful, family-friendly quick start guide, but what strikes you most about Kinect is that it's an all-out attempt to transform the Xbox 360 from a hardcore gamer's console into what's effectively the logical next step forward from the Wii. If you don't look at Kinect in this spirit - if you're going to get antsy about response times, accuracy or how in hell you're going to play an FPS on the thing, then you're missing the point. Kinect wasn't made for you.

Take it for what it is, however, and – with some pretty hefty caveats - Kinect is an incredible piece of tech.

Setup is a lot slicker and more trouble-free than you might expect. The sensor bar, which sits on it's own, integral motorised stand, is placed above or below your TV. It plugs into your Xbox 360 via a USB cable, while drawing power from a separate wall-wart PSU (though owners of the latest slimline models will find that the USB cable provides enough power on its own). Hook it up, switch your Xbox 360 on, and the console will download a new update. Once that's installed, the system runs you through a series of basic calibration tests to work out the noise levels and rough dimensions of the space you're playing in. There's not much more to it than that.

Well, there is a bit more. To get some of the more advanced features working properly, like automatic face-recognition sign-in, each player needs to go through a quick scan followed by a brief series of additional tests which, actually, are reasonably good fun. Parents of small children might note that they'll struggle to complete these, both for technical reasons (Kinect seems to struggle with small dimensions) and practical (try getting a four-year-old to stand still for a few seconds, then move from spot to spot and strike a specific pose). Going through this process, however, seems to help tune the system for each player, and it's something we'd recommend for any older child or adult.

Otherwise, the magic of Kinect is that, most of the time, it just works. The sensor angles and readjusts itself, so there's no need to worry about that, and while you might experience minor issues with lighting, Kinect seems more forgiving on this count than PlayStation Move. The worst we've had is poor exposure in a photo in a game, and by retuning Kinect to work in different conditions you can help the hard-working sensor do its job.

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Jones

November 8, 2010, 8:32 pm

It was never designed as an attempt to replace a controller for FPSs or, say, a football game but unfortunately the bulk of those with XBox's will look at it's shortfalls in these areas the keenest.





To truly take off, Microsoft must either be relying on a huge number of the Wii type younger or party audiences to have an XBox already or hoping that many of this demographic will be willing to buy Kinect AND an XBox.





I'm not so sure but I hope it does well. Having played games for over two decades now its all to easy for me to be driven to boredom by the latest "greatest" FPSs and what not (Crysis, for example, was a chore for me) but this looks like it'd be a riot - even if the riot only lasted an hour at a time!





And who can deny that they arent at least a tiny bit excited about the prospect of some sort of penalty kick/free kcik game coming to Kinect?! Might help England train up some decent PK takers for future World Cups...

smodd

November 8, 2010, 9:43 pm

Maybe in the future they can sold a Hardcore Edition, just give to people some 2 wrist and 2 ankle bands-like and the input lag can be reduced a lot y u still have the freedom you want...

Stelph

November 8, 2010, 9:55 pm

I wonder if the Kinect has object recongnition built in as well? I.e. for a star wars game you could hold a stick as a lightsaber (cause surely thats what everyone wants these devices for!) :-p

Hugo

November 8, 2010, 10:06 pm

Stelph - Move does ;)

Runadumb

November 9, 2010, 12:39 am

@Jones Crysis was pure unadulterated fuuuuun ;)








People seem to hate on Kinect for not catering to the "Hardcore" but the Xbox caters plenty for that audience. Why can't it also have content your kids, parents or whoever could easily pick up and play without the massive learning curve? I can see a youngin getting lots of joy out of that silly pet game. Shame with some Move games.


I like the fact the wii, move and now Kinect exist, even if I get little from them.





PS I say this now but not being able to get near console and shot people in the face because my GF was flailing her arms about pretending to be on a life-raft would get old really fast :)

KultiVator

November 9, 2010, 5:01 am

Tut tut T.R. - your nicely balanced review is sure to upset Ahlan!





;-)

warwick67

November 10, 2010, 3:16 am

Whilst the Kinect technology is impressive I feel your review gives it a score that does not reflect that fact that it has clearly not yet fully proven it's definite long-term worth as a gaming accessory and you appear rather too fawning of it's achievements thus far.





I found Ars Technica's excellent review to be more detailed, balanced and comprehensive: "Buy a house, clean your floor, move your butt: Ars reviews Kinect" - http://arstechnica.com/gaming/...

StuAndrews

November 10, 2010, 3:55 pm

@Warwick87


You can say the same thing about any new games console or accessory we review, and it's the nature of these things that there value changes over time. All we can do is look at how good the games are at launch and come up with a considered idea as to future potential. Personally, I think the review does just that.





The big issue with Kinect - and I can't say this enough - is that the experience will differ from person to person depending on how much space you have available, and the sort of games you like. In my own home, we had to move furniture to get everything working properly, but we felt that the good times we had playing Kinect made it worthwhile. The most important thing about it is that it feels genuinely new and genuinely fun. It's important to make the points about space and lag, but it's easy to obsess over these issues and miss out on how well Kinect and its launch games work.





And while I hate to stir up a hornert's nest, since we've had Kinect in the house everyone wants to play it. Every member of my family has a favourite game they want to play, and everybody loves it. Much as I like PlayStation Move and Sony's desire to make motion control work for traditional games, I can't really say the same about any of the titles we've seen so far (bar The Shoot, which I've become a bit obsessed with). I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Killzone 3 and Little Big Planet to turn this around next year. Move is a great technology, but so far the games haven't measured up.





@Stelph


I can't see it being a problem. From what I've seen from the full-size body scan in Your Shape, Kinect has no problem picking up objects that shouldn't be in the frame, including my coffee cup if I'm holding it, or my four-year old daughter then she decides to launch herself on me in mid exercise. All part of the fun ;?

davidc

November 10, 2010, 4:02 pm

its actually nice to play something different rather than another FPS / shooter / race sim. Whilst its definately not the finished acrticle, it is fun to play and if you have the room,should be great for family party games. We shoud be glad Microsoft are trying something different and not moaning that "you can't play COD on it"...it just needs a killer game that breaks new ground...hopefully in the next 6months / year we will get it, until then, just have fun!!

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