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Xbox 360 Kinect buying guide

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Xbox 360 Kinect

Buyers guide released 22nd November 2010
For those of you who have been waiting patiently for the release of the Kinect add-on for Xbox 360, the wait is finally over. The motion-sensing gaming system has finally hit the shops in the UK.

Kinect provides a unique new way to play video games. The sensor not only tracks your body movement, but it also recognises your face and listens to voice commands. Unlike game controllers that require you to learn a complicated set of commands, with Kinect, you can instantly control any Kinect game. Another advantage of Kinect is that it uses your whole body: hands, feet, torso, and head. You aren’t just controlling the onscreen character—you’re living it.

This new device elevates your gaming experience to new levels. Kinect transforms games and entertainment, offering a simple, intuitive way to play that everyone will enjoy. The Kinect device comes with two cameras and a microphone that work together to your gestures and recognize voice commands, letting you command the games without the use of a controller. The motion sensor tracks your whole body; when you move left or jump right, for example, the sensor captures the motion to put you in the game.

The Kinect microphone lets players communicate with the game via voice. Several of the launch games use this feature, and it can also be used to control the game console. The Kinect can tilt and pan to adjust to different players’ heights and movements.

The basic game package comes with a sensor that looks like a wide web cam. It connects to your Xbox 360 through a USB connection. It also provides a power supply cable, owner’s manual, and Wi-Fi extension cable. The starter game included with the package is Kinect: Adventures! In addition to the starter package, you need an Xbox 360 console (sold separately). You can also buy additional Kinect Ready games, also sold separately.

Pros & Cons with Kinect

Advantages of Kinect

  • No Controller Required: Because you become the controller, there are no complicated commands to learn. For example, when you see a ball, you can hit it, kick it, catch it, or trap it. Kinect tracks all your body movements in 3D, and it responds to vocal commands. It can even understand different emotions in your voice. 
  •  Personalised Play: Kinect gives you the most personalized gaming experience possible, recognizing both your face and your voice. You can speak to in-game characters, or just step in front of the sensor to start your Xbox LIVE games. As with Xbox, you can connect to gaming friends around the world, but with Kinect, no headset is required.

Disadvantages of Kinect

There are very few disadvantages reported with Kinect, but any gaming system is going to have some complaints, especially when it’s new.

  • Player Limits: One of the potential limitations is that the gaming system limits the number of players that can be active on a game. It claims to be able to track four players, but only two of them can be active at any one time.
  • Distance: Some people report that there is a lag time between your actions and Kinect’s response. Typically, Kinect is very fast to respond, but you do have to allow a minimum distance between yourself and the sensor. If you are playing in a small room, you may not have enough room to move freely. However, unlike claims that you have to be standing, Kinect can sense your movements while seated or even lying down.

Kinect games

Currently (22/11/2010), there are 19 Kinect Ready games available in the UK, with more sure to come in the future. As is the case with new technology, most of these launch games may not be the best quality; however, that should improve as the technology ages. The five best games to start with are:

  • Dance Central: This title was created by the company who brought us Rock Band and Guitar Hero, and it’s probably the best title in the initial launch lineup. Gamers learn choreography to a variety of pop songs, and them perform them all for scores. The game features 90 routines and more than 650 steps to learn. Featured tracks are as varied as Kylie Minogue, Kool & The Gang, and Lady Gaga. This rhythm action game is entertaining and challenging.
  • Kinectimals: This is a version of the ‘virtual pet’ game genre. Your goal is to explore an island, make friends with other animals such as tiger and lion cubs, and play mini-games. You can pet and wrestle with the other animals, and the mini-games are fun. These range from assault courses to car races. Younger children especially will be enthralled with this game.
  • Kinect Sports: A typical multi-sports game, this title includes bowling, football, table tennis, and track and field games. All the games are pretty easy to learn, and the automatic video replays will have you and your friends laughing non-stop. The replays will show all your crazy movements in all your embarrassing glory.
  • Fitness Evolved: This is a fairly serious fitness activity, providing a well-structured programme and a large selection of activities. Players can track their progress accurately, and there’s even an online community to compare your results with friends or create a support system for encouragement.
  • Sonic Free Riders: This is the only Kinect game that provides a classic ‘arcade style’ experience. Sonic and his friends are racing on hover boards, and you have to lean left or right to score. Drag your foot along the ground to speed up. It’s not responsive enough to handle the more demanding race courses, but it’s a fun game.

Other promising game titles

  • EA Sports Active 2: This is another fitness game, but aimed more at traditional gamers. It comes with a heart rate monitor that lets you know how your training is progressing. It has more than 70 exercises, including training programmes designed for specific sports like mountain biking and football.
  • Yoostar 2: This movie karaoke-style game lets you recreate famous scenes from dozens of popular movies. This could be the hit game for parties, and it’s due to be released in early 2011.
  • Haunt: Also due in 2011, this 'horror' game is set in a haunted house. It is more of a light puzzle game than an all-out horror story. This comes from Masay Matsuura, creator of PaRappa the Rapper.
  • Rise of Nightmares: This game promises to provide a horror experience that gives games the ultimate, spine-tingling fright.
  • Codename D: Not much is known yet about Codename D except that it’s being created by Grasshopper Manufacture. This is the same company that brought cult classics ‘No More Heroes’ and ‘Killer 7.’ It should be completely different from other Kinect games currently being developed, appealing to a different category of gaming enthusiasts.
  • Project Draco: Due in 2011, this is a dragon riding game created by Yukio Fatatsugi, creator of the cult classic Panzer Dragoon.
  • Kinect Star Wars: This joint creation from LucasArts and Terminal Reality is a third-person Jedi fighting game. Players will wield dual light sabers, and it is due to be released in 2011.
  • Kinect: Adventures!: This game lets you explore the world. Test your reflexes in Rallyball; experience anti-gravity in an outer space exploration. Jump, dodge, and duck your way through the mountaintop obstacle course. Dive into an underwater observatory. It has 20 adventures for you to complete, promising hours of fun. You can also have social adventures with Kinect: Adventure! It lets you connect with your family and friends, both in-person and online using Xbox LIVE.
Buying Guide to Xbox 360 Kinect
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