The lights are on
I was watching a movie on my Xbox 360 the other night, when I had to go upstairs. The controller had long turned itself off. My hands were full of empties. Rather than drop everything onto the floor (my immediate instinct), I just said “Xbox, pause,” and the system obediently put the action on hold. I couldn’t help but agree with my wife as I trotted upstairs. Her statement? “That’s insane.”
Now that it’s been out for a while, we’ve gotten a pretty good sense of how developers are choosing to incorporate Kinect in their games. It’s disappointing. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think all it did was give people an excuse to jog in place, jump, and stretch their arms out like airplanes. All the while, the peripheral’s most powerful and interesting functionality is ignored. That’s insane.
When I played Mass Effect 3, I was able to command my squad with my voice. I didn’t have to enter a menu. I didn’t need to interrupt the action. I could just say, “Liara, singularity,” and she’d fire off her biotic attack, neutralizing Cerberus soldiers while I finished them off. After Bethesda released a patch for Skyrim, I could easily access my map, quick-save my game, and even rattle off dragon shouts with ease. And again, I did it using my voice.
Getting Kinect to recognize my body is often an exercise in trial and error. Entire limbs will suddenly cease to exist, or at least they will virtually. And I don’t know how many times I’ve had to futz around in menus after someone on the couch has the nerve to move an arm. In contrast, Kinect correctly responds to my voice with stunning accuracy. It doesn’t matter if people are having a conversation in the background or the in-game audio is blasting away. It works, and it works quite well.
Steel Battalion was a failure for many reasons. When I review a game, I review what’s in front of me, not what I wish the game would be. I can’t help but believe, however, that the game would have been more successful had it incorporated at least some voice commands. You’re stuck in a mech with three other people, and you’re only able to silently bat at the air? Why didn’t players have the option of directly commanding their crew in battle?
It’s easy to carry cynicism around like a trophy, and I’m certainly guilty of it. I’ve been disappointed by Kinect, but I’m not quite ready to abandon all hope. Kinect has incredible potential, and I wish developers would push themselves to take advantage of it, instead of focusing on full-body waggle.
Email the author Jeff Cork, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
i agree that is all i basically use y kinect for except for dance central which is the best kinect game
So why will the microphone not suffice for this purpose?
Im glad Microsoft thought of this and put it into the kinect
Actually, I bought one for my three year old daughter and she loves it. Watching her play Once Upon A Monster is awesome. She can't handle a controller yet, and those types of games keep her active. I personally feel stupid calling out commands to my Xbox so I don't really see that as a benefit, but if you dig it then sweet! But as it goes for peripherals, I believe the Kinect is by far the best suited for its purposes. I think the technology has massive potential.
When i heard about the ME3 functionality, i thought to myself "thats pretty cool", and for the first time ever, I actually wanted a Kinect.
I completely agree with Jeff on this one. Maybe someday, we can yell out orders like a general in an RTS type game. And who wouldn't want to be a general?
Voice commands are actually all I use my Kinect for.
Pretty sad when the voice recognition is top-notch but the person recognition (the point of the device) is spotty.
Great note.. I completely agree. I think it's far less intrusive than motion controls and easily incorporated in to most of the media and equipment in our entertainment centers. Movies, Music, Stereos, Televisions, Games (obviously), DVR's, it's all very easy to incorporate voice control options and menu navigation through Kinect and I thoroughly agree in wanting to see more of it.
Its a fair point, I thought kinect has potential but been poorly used. I really dont want to use no controllers all the time but I wouldnt mind a excellent voice command incorporating be great.
Excuse me, but voice detection tech has been around for ages. In theory, the PlayStation Eye could do practically the same thing.
Oh that's just nasty...
Good article. And every word you said was true. the voice recognition is quite good, but the movement recognition sucks!
I'm having a lot of trouble with voice on Skyrim for some reason.... It worked perfectly on Mass Effect 3.