We had the opportunity to put the new Kinect sensor through its paces at Gamescom with Kinect Sports Rivals. Our opinion on the hardware is mixed, at least as far as motion control gaming is concerned.
Andrew Preston, the Principal Designer at Rare, and the architect behind the mountain climbing game for Kinect Sports Rivals was nice enough to give us a lengthy hands-on with the Kinect and latter game title and a lot of things were immediately apparent from our play through. First of all, the Kinect 2.0 sensor doesn’t have 1-to-1 tracking, as originally touted by Microsoft. There is still a bit of a delay between your movements and what’s translated on screen. Also, it seems that either Kinect Sports Rivals or the sensor itself is not completely bug-free, as our hands-on session resulted in the XBox One console being rebooted due to some glitches we encountered. You can watch a video of our hands-on session below (Warning: the video contains mild swearing and some trolling):
However, the Kinect’s facial scanning features seemed really cool and it seemed like quite a fun bit of tech, scanning your face and then reproducing a pretty decent avatar that loosely resembles you. Watching people play Kinect Sports Rivals and actually playing it are two completely different things. When we watched others play,who let it be known, were absolutely terrible for the most part, we were not impressed. A particular shout out has to go to a kid who was trying to play the mountain climbing game and once he grabbed something, just stood there…with his hands up…expecting to be lifted up without actually pulling his avatar up. Also, special mention should go to our cameraman, Hitesh, who clearly couldn’t play to save his life. However, once you get involved in the game, the experience is actually really immersive and a lot of fun. The jet-skiing and mountain climbing game were surprisingly responsive and Andrew Preston really showed the difference between an amateur and pro playing the game.
However, the existence of latency, even if small, still strikes at the heart of what the Kinect is about. The technology should really have nailed the one-to-one movements and we can’t help but shake the feeling of disappointment about the delay in movements being translated on screen, even if the delay has been significantly reduced. However, we feel that Kinect 2.0’s real potential will manifest itself in the manner in which it will accompany core gaming experiences as opposed to purely motion control gaming. Features such as voice control and navigation, profile recognition, 3D facial scanning and multi-tasking features have the potential to enhance our core gaming experiences as opposed to alienating us from them. We have seen very little of these features but if they do work in a manner that Microsoft allude to, gamers should be in for a treat. If not, then one really has to question the value of the XBox One and the mandatory Kinect hardware bundled with it. As of now, we’re excited yet skeptical at the same time.