The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 13
Like many gamers, I was skeptical when I saw the first concept video of Kinect. Adults and children were shown playing trivia games together, fixing busted tires at pit stops, scanning their real-life skateboard into a video game, and pretending to be a kung-fu master or Godzilla. I was initially skeptical of the peripheral, doubting it would work as advertised. My skepticism grew as the marketing campaign pushed forward, with Kudo Tsunoda knocking virtual balls back and forth everywhere from E3 to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. These demos started resembling gimmicky motion-based Wii minigames more and more, and I set my sights low for Kinect.
As the peripheral's launch inched closer, the ad campaign heated up even more and made it apparent that Microsoft was putting the company's full weight behind it. When we received our first Kinect unit here at Game Informer, I walked in to the conference room to watch Bryan play Kinect Sports. He went into multiplayer so I could give it a shot, and I was surprised to find myself actually having fun. It wasn't perfect, but it reminded me of the same goofy fun I had with Wii Sports back in 2006. I spent some more time with the unit, playing with the voice recognition features and menu navigation. My attitude towards the device turned from skepticism to cautious optimism, and I eventually decided to pre-order Kinect so I could have one at launch.
For the last several console generations, I've bought every system at launch. It didn't matter to me that the launch line-ups of the DS, PSP, PS3, 3DS, and other consoles didn't scream "must-have" to me; I had to have access to the newest games, and nothing else mattered. I never bought Microsoft's line about treating Kinect's release like a console launch, but the thought was the same -- If I didn't have Kinect, I couldn't play the latest games. Because of this, I made the drive to Gamestop last November and bought it on day one.
As was the case with so many console launches, the initial software lineup didn't really appeal to me. Dance Central was a sure thing thanks to the positive buzz and the Harmonix name, even though I'm not much of a dancer. Outside of that, I was begging for a reason to buy anything else. Kinectimals is clearly aimed at a younger demographic, but I picked it up based on the mostly-positive reviews. I also liked the idea of working out at home in an effort to avoid the Minnesota winter, so I picked up The Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout. Of those three, the only one I was even remotely impressed by was Dance Central. Kinectimals didn't feel like much of a game, and The Biggest Loser flat-out didn't work. Within a week or two, I had traded in both titles. Dance Central got played a bit more, usually for a song or two after the bars with my friends.
With only one (sparingly-played) game in my Kinect collection, I tried to justify my purchase by playing around with its other features. I tried navigating menus without a controller and managing my DVD playback with my voice, but neither option seemed as responsive to me as the tried-and-true fashion. Signing in to my profile by having Kinect recognize me on sight has yet to work once. You were supposed to be able to stand in front of your TV when your Xbox turns on, and have Kinect sign you in appropriately. I've done all of the calibration, lighting adjustments, and other tweaks that are recommended, and this has literally never worked.
Time went on, and the Kinect release schedule hit a major dry spot. I looked for any reason to even have my Kinect plugged into my Xbox, and couldn't find one. Titles weren't getting released, and technical issues weren't being addressed via updates. At E3 this year, Microsoft announced Kinect Fun Labs, a free download that was specifically designed to highlight the device's strong points. I downloaded it and tried to give objects googly eyes and do other assorted nonsense. Once again, nothing worked as advertised.
Still holding on for some reason to justify my almost year-old purchase, I tried The Gunstringer and Child of Eden. While I appreciated the trademark Twisted Pixel sense of humor in the former and didn't entirely hate the latter, I felt neither game was worthy of the asking price or more than an hour or two of my time. Releasing these games around the $50 price point is one of my main gripes with Kinect. Like many gamers, I operate on a limited budget. I can't afford to buy everything that comes out, and what expendable income I do have goes towards big guns like Skyrim, Portal 2, and Zelda. If I can get hundreds of hours of enjoyment out of a $60 purchase like Skyrim, I can't justify spending $50 to wave my arms around or make pistol motions with my hand.
Recently, Microsoft launched a "Kinect For Core" campaign to cater towards hardcore gamers. I look at that trailer above, and see nothing that caters to the core crowd. The Gunstringer isn't core because it has guns, Child of Eden isn't core because it's abstract and artsy, Forza may be core but certainly not because of Kinect integration, Rise of Nightmares isn't core because it's violent, and there sure as hell isn't anything core about flailing your arms to chop watermelons in half. I'm not saying this because I'm a gaming elitist with strict definitions of "hardcore" and "casual" gamers, I just recognize a desperate campaign when I see one. Kinect is derided by longtime gamers because of its casual nature, and Microsoft is trying to pander to them with a "Kinect For Core" message that no one is buying.
Microsoft's presentation at E3 this year focused on Kinect's utilization in unquestionably core games like Mass Effect 3 and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Ordering squad members around in ME3 via voice commands sounds far less gimmicky than most Kinect integration, but the Gunsmith system in Future Soldier looked unnecessary. That's the problem...yelling at Garrus or checking out gun attachments with Kinect may be novel at first, but is it really a better option than doing the same thing with a controller?
Perhaps my recent frustration with Kinect has something to do with my time reviewing atrocities like Hulk Hogan's Main Event and Blackwater. However, it doesn't change the fact that my personal Kinect has sat almost completely unused since around this time last year. If it weren't for my time working on Kinect games for Game Informer, I would have spent about two hours this year using it in my free time (about an hour each for The Gunstringer and Child of Eden). Despite my grievances, I haven't traded it in yet. I still hold out hope that Microsoft can do something worthwhile with this thing. I had similar complaints about the first year of owning a DS, and it went on to become my favorite portable system of all time. There really is some impressive technology going into Kinect, I just wish developers would find some way to utilize it in a creative and (most of all) fun fashion. Until then, it'll be hanging out in a drawer with my Move controllers.
Email the author Dan Ryckert, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
I completely agree with everything you've written here, Dan. I was skeptical at first, but after seeing and hearing the Kinect get so much praise on gaming sites like this, I felt like I needed to experience it for myself.
It was certainly fun at first, but the novelty wore thin and I began to grow bored of the device. It didn't help that the only place I had room to play Kinect was in my house's family room. That's already two strikes for someone as lazy as me. :P
I still want to check out Child of Eden and the Mass Effect 3 integration, but other than that... my Kinect is a paperweight. It's sad.
Thank you, Dan. Thank you for having the chutzpah to straight up come out and tell people that the Kinect - as of now - is not a good use of money. I really do hope that Microsoft can improve on the tech and make the Kinect's functionality more compatible with legitimate "hardcore" games, but I just don't see any reason to spend money on what is essentially a glorified peripheral. It'd be like spending $150 on the Tony Hawk: Ride board if Activision+Neversoft (if Neversoft is still in charge of development for that franchise. Are they?) that there was going to be several uses for it - not just for skating. It would still be a colossal waste of my money. So again, thanks for being so honest with your opinion on Kinect.
I completely agree. I got it around launch last year, and I haven't had it on for more than 30 minutes since then. I was watching Microsoft's presentation at E3, and literally laughing at how terrible the Kinect gun mechanics in Future Soldier looked. There is no chance that anyone would prefer that over just using the controller, and I don't know why I would want to yell, " Garrus use Overload" when I could just press a couple buttons on the controller in ME3. I certainly wish that there will be worthwhile experiences on Kinect in the coming year, but I just don't see it happening anytime soon.
Trade it in, Dan. They might come out with, what, one or two good-ish games in the next year? And even that's a best case scenario, with nothing on the horizon right now.
Besides, the next iteration of Xbox console will either have support built in or, more likely, a newer, better, more functional version of the Kinect as an accessory. Get $50 for your old one while you can, and spend more time playing Skyrim.
I have not bought a Kinect or any other motion peripheral since the original Eyetoy back in 2003. What's interesting to me, is that, since then there really hasn't been any technological advances in the nearly nine years since it came out. We're still playing the same mini games and the same shoddy, gimmicky "full releases." From what I remember of my Eyetoy, the Kinect seems just as responsive.
I feel like we're at the halfway point right now. Ten years ago motion gaming started, and ten more from now it'll actually be worthwhile. I feel the same for voice recognition. Anywhere, from my GPS, to an iPhone, to the Kinect, voice recognition is just not accurate enough yet. I'm reminded of the PS2 game Lifeline. Once again, it didn't work when it was released in Japan in 2003, and ten years later (accounting for a year of development time) voice recognition is about the same and still doesn't work.
Until 2023 I'm going to be very cautious about motion and voice controls.
All in all: Kinect sucks.
I don't own Kinect, and in fact my only experience with it is about half an hour spent playing Fruit Ninja at Best Buy. That was a fun half hour! But it wasn't fun enough to justify buying Kinect for it, especially when it's available for less than a hundredth of the price on iPhone.
No other game (not even Dance Central) has jumped out to me as a reason to change my attitude on it. The only time I ever believed Kinect would be a must-have item was shortly after the original announcement when the Star Wars game was shown off, which has since been revealed to be an unresponsive mess. If Microsoft really wants to sell "core" gamers on it, they've got two options: make it a truly amazing device with responsive controls that are a compelling reason to choose it over a handheld controller, or introduce some sort of modified controller peripheral to merge the control of buttons with the neat-factor of gestures. Because right now, I'd rather pony up for a few Move controllers or go back to playing Wii than bother with Kinect.
I have to agree with you. The Kinect seems like a great idea ate first, but its entertainment wears thin. Like its predecessor, the Wii, it doesn't integrate the technology into the games very well and it's controls are not as effective as advertised.
Looking at the advertisements for games, all of your points are valid. The Gunstringer just looks like Viva Pinata Revamped, and Forza doesn't benefit from the motion controls at all.
Should Microsoft create something worthy of the Kinect, than maybe my opinion will change. But until than, it stands as a dusty reminder to be careful with what you buy.
All motion controls are gimmicks in my opinion just stick with the controller
I sold mine about 4 months ago, after having it sit on my living room wall collecting dust 5 months prior. Huge dissapointment. My wife enjoyed Dance Central, and that's where it stopped. The one game I was looking forward to, Steel Battalion, doesn't seem to be coming out anytime soon. Honestly, I don't believe that Microsoft was prepared for the Kinect's massive success, or that they have anything solid planned for it in the future.
Even when it was on sale this year, I still couldn't find the option to justify purchasing it at 109.99 or even the pre-owned ones at 79.99, the games don't appeal to me, I prefer having any kind of controller than no controller especially when it comes to motion based games...
I have tried to play Kinect games, but I can't really get into them. My girlfriend and I do own a Kinect, and we got it for Christmas last year so it wasn't something we had to pay for, but I feel the same way. We have a couple of games, but they are only ever played with friends when hanging out and/or drinking, so I don't see it as a viable peripheral at this time. However, we have gotten a LOT of use out of the video chat feature, as we are in Arizona and our families are in New York, so it's nice to see them on a 46" screen and sit comfortably in our living room instead of huddle around a tiny laptop screen and camera.
I never purchased a Kinect or Move for pretty much all the reasons you mentioned above. I think I'll stick with the Wii.