Microsoft Kinect: It's worse than what you expect.Mikey 9 comments
We've had the Kinect for a few weeks now and have had plenty of time to form what I would call an accurate opinion of Microsofts' new gaming controller. But in case you just want this authors final word on the matter now - here it is: The Kinect is a useless gimmick which has no place in any gamers hardware collection.
If you want to read my justification for this seemingly obtuse statement, read on.
The marketing is propaganda.
That's probably not a surprise coming from Microsoft, but allow me to elaborate. Nearly all the official marketing demonstrates families sitting in the living room with a couple of spectators and a couple of people playing out in front. In some instances the entire family is sitting on a couch while a single person plays a game.
That wouldn't be such a bad way to advertise the Kinect except for one little flaw: It can't work in that manner. In fact the Kinect games we have request that we remove all the furniture from the lounge room before we attempt to play. OK, so we play along and remove the coffee table that is between the player and the Kinect, which is quite a hassle given it's size and weight.
The idea here is the Kinect needs a clear picture of the people playing the game, so tables, couches and anything else will confuse it. Photos like this one below demonstrate an actual impossible situation with the Kinect. I'll explain why.
If the Kinect detects anyone else in the room it will often cause them to steal focus from the current players. I've lost count of the number of times I've walked behind my kids while playing Kinect Adventures just to get to another room only to have it recognise me and try to throw me into the game.
You can't have anyone apart from the actual players anywhere in front of the Kinect, even if you're several meters away. So the above photo is pure bullshit.
As mentioned in some other official marketing snaps we see a family all sitting down on a couch playing a game, which again is impossible with the Kinect. But don't take my word for it - read this heart wrenching story about the wheelchair bound girl who is completely ignored (and cannot use) her Kinect because it can't differentiate between people and furniture (or in this case her wheelchair).
The Kinect is inaccurate and high latency.
So you've seen those videos where the gamer performs some sort of action which is instantaneously reproduced in the game? That doesn't happen. The Kinect has very noticeable lag which makes it useless for anyone other than young kids who are forgiving of such things.
The things is that most gamers work and react in milliseconds, which is why traditional game controllers like game pads, steering wheels and mice/keyboard combos will always - I mean ALWAYS be far better for gaming than the Kinect.
Right now the Kinect is being heavily pimped as a 'must have' for the upcoming Forza 4. The truth is though that a game like Forza - or any motor vehicle sim for that matter - does require a high degree or precision. You will not - I repeat - will not have an accurate enjoyable gaming experience if you try to thrash a Ferrari around the track at 300kmh using the Kinect.
Not only is there too much lag, but you also have to use over-exagerated gestures for the Kinect to work properly. This means you'll feel more like you're driving a bus than a Ferrari.
The Kinect requires substantial lighting.
It's true. Once the evening approaches and the daylight begins to recede, you will have to rely on whatever internal lighting set-up you have. In our case those 75watt bulbs with diffuse coverings just won't do the trick. This makes the Kinect strictly a daytime activity only, unless you have some powerful lights sourced from behind the Kinect. That's right - direct light into the Kinect makes it even worse.
The Kinect requires lots of room
This one came a surprise, but yes if you anything smaller than a 4x4m closed living area, you're going to almost be standing outside the room. As it happens my xBox is setup in my Theatre room which while wide enough is also only just shy of 4metres deep. One meter of this is taken up by the wall unit that houses the big screen TV, bluray player and the xbox etc, which doesn't leave much room for the Kinect to 'work its magic'.
In any given game my kids are constantly reminded by on-screen nags to stand further back, which puts them almost entirely out of the room. If you have an open living area like the photo above you'll be fine, so I guess countries where living space is limited (high rise buildings and small apartments come to mind) will be screwed.
In this authors humble opinion, gamers hoping for an improved gaming experience should avoid the Kinect at all costs. If it wasn't for the fact that my daughters (5 and 7 respectively) like it, I'd have taken it back for a refund already.
Consider this brief review a warning. The Kinect is an expensive gimmick that can't be taken seriously. Steer clear of it.