Kinect for Xbox 360

Kinect review: We put the Xbox 360's new motion controller through its paces -- is Kinect worth it?

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Microsoft Kinect
  • Microsoft Kinect
  • Microsoft Kinect
  • Microsoft Kinect
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Innovative and beginner-friendly control scheme, suitable for all ages, good range of fitness titles

Cons

  • Some games suffer from lag issues, setting up can be a chore

Bottom Line

Kinect for Xbox 360 still has a lot to prove. The games we have seen so far are quite limited in scope (most are variations on the party and fitness genres). That said, the potential is there for more exciting and innovative titles in the future.

Would you buy this?

Kinect Performance

Judging a game peripheral at launch can be a tricky undertaking — the first games to come out of the gate are invariably of mixed quality and teething issues are bound to crop up with the technology. Even so, Kinect for Xbox 360 proved to be more problematic than we were expecting. As mentioned, the space required by the Kinect sensor will be a massive inconvenience for some, but even after you've set everything up, problems continue to abound.

The most obvious issue has to do with the lag time between making a motion and it registering onscreen. While the lag is only slight, it’s enough to hamper your reflexes and can disrupt the flow of gameplay — especially in quick-response titles like Kinect Sports. Hopefully, this flaw will be addressed with future Kinect games (as mentioned, teething issues are forgivable — as long as they get ironed out).

During our multiplayer test, the sensor intermittently lost track of one of the players, even though they had barely moved a foot. In games like Kinect Adventures, the sensor really seemed to struggle to keep track of both players onscreen (thankfully, this doesn't actually halt the gameplay, which is a plus).

Kinect vs GamePro
Kinect occassionally struggles to track multiple players

If you're a gaming veteran, the lack of a controller of any kind is pretty hard to get used to. This is especially noticeable in games that require you to 'hold' an invisible object, such as a tennis racquet — there's no real sense of motion or direction, which makes it difficult to gauge shots. While playing Kinect Joy Ride, we were really crying out for a wheel peripheral, like the one bundled with Mario Kart Wii — but then, we suppose that would defeat Kinect's purpose.

That said, there is certainly still plenty of fun to be had here. Games like Kinect Adventures and Kinect Joy Ride are sure to provide plenty of fun for families with young children.

Conclusion

If Kinect's launch line-up is anything to go by, Microsoft is aiming the device squarely at the 'party game' demographic, along with families and health enthusiasts. In other words, it is courting the same type of gamer as Nintendo's Wii. (Indeed, Kinect Sports seems like a carbon copy of the Wii Sports concept, right down to its identikit name.)

Kinect vs. Move vs. Wii
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved

We think this is a risky move on Microsoft's part. The Xbox 360 has traditionally been for 'hardcore' gamers who like gritty action, challenging gameplay and cinematic storylines. To date, Kinect fails to deliver any of these elements. The interface can also feel unnatural for veteran gamers — especially in titles like Kinect Joy Ride, which require you to hold an imaginary steering wheel in the air.

On the plus side, the 'controller-free' interface adds a casual, interactive flexibility that the Wii and PlayStation Move can't match. This will encourage non-gamers to get involved in the action — with no stumbling block to hamper their enjoyment (other than the laggy controls).

Kinect games also demand more physical exertion than the Wii or PlayStation Move. If you're concerned about fitness (or would like your kids to get more exercise), Kinect is definitely a worthy investment.

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Read more on these topics: gaming peripherals, games, XBox 360, Microsoft Kinect
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