Here Are your Kinect Reviews — Kevin Butler Might Have Been Right
Microsoft has been pushing Kinect as the future of gaming by saying it makes you the controller. So the question is this: is using Kinect better than using a controller? I’d tell you, but we didn’t get a Kinect sensor pre-launch, so even though I have used Kinect before, I won’t presume to render my impressions of those experiences as a final verdict. Instead, I’m going to pull some quotes that directly address that question from reviews posted by reputable sources. Oh, and before we do that, I’m going to post this old Kevin Butler Playstation Move ad which jokes that the Movie is better than Kinect because it has buttons.
On to the reviews:
Some Kinect games feel like they’d be better with a controller. Others, like Dance Central, wouldn’t be as fun. A comparison to a controller is apt, though, because gesturing to control a game feels as relatively convoluted and slightly slow as using a control stick. Kinect voice control, on the other hand, feels like it can be as precise as pressing a button. Buttons and control sticks together are a great combo; voice and gesture feel like just as terrific a pairing.
I found that the Kinect Hub, which is brought up by either waving your hand while on the “classic” Xbox 360 Dashboard or saying “Xbox Kinect” is functional, but, if anything, requires far more effort to perform the most simple tasks than simply using a controller and the regular Dashboard. Here’s the problem: In order to select something, you have to hover your hand over it for a three-count. Then, there’s a delay as an extremely simplified version of, say, your friends list comes up. Navigating further into the menus is just as slow, as is navigating back out.
The voice commands, matched with your hand movements, work well most of the time, but when they don’t it’s a pain in the butt. Sometimes, I’d be waving to get the system’s attention, and it would take a few tries to turn on the cursor. Other times I would get to a menu where no voice commands seemed to want to work. This is all neat in a tech-demo sort of way, but it’s not as good as using a controller and buttons. It’s slower, less accurate, and you have to remember to speak in a loud, clear voice and move in a consistent way.
Microsoft is going to release a Move-style controller for the Kinect within a year or so.
Games that feature full-body movement make best use of what Kinect can offer. Syncing up your movements with the movements on the screen is a lot easier and more natural with Kinect than with a normal controller.
But games that would be better enhanced with a physical device in hand feel flat. On Kinect, they’re just not up to the demands that players make from those types of games. You will probably not enjoy racing games and first-person shooter games as much with Kinect that you do with regular controllers.
I was definitely more impressed by the Kinect hardware (and the software) than I imagined I would be. But I’m not ready to champion Kinect as the death knell for controller-based gaming, and I’m not sure I ever will be. When it comes to the games themselves, I’m a bit concerned that the lack of a physical controller will really limit the type of gaming experiences we’ll see. (Will we get any games that aren’t on rails?)