I’ve recently been spending a fair amount of my gaming time with the Kinect Add-on for the 360. After E3, nothing looked to impressive for Microsoft’s answer to the Wii and the PS3 Move, but this is the strongest launch by far compared to the other two motion platforms.
The Wii was bundled with Wii Sports and since that is widely regarded as a tech demo even to this day, it’s not very deep and the novelty wears off pretty quickly. That’s not to say it’s not done well or isn’t fun because it is, especially for a trail-blazer. Having spent some time around the Move while at E3, I wasn’t too impressed simply because it was a Hi-Def tech demo though it had clearly defined its target audience, the entire family or a party feature.
While the Kinect bridges those demographics, it does it without the hurdle of a controller. Setting it up was easy to do and adjusting the settings took at most about 20 minutes (the space I have dedicated is considered small or good, but it’s not in a living or family room). What’s surprising is how well developed and finely tuned both first party and third party game makers have made their games. The game included with the add-on: “Kinect Adventures” is a tech demo at its core however; Microsoft made this an actual game. Even though the game is repetitive, the game is fun for both an individual and group. The four games include a steering a river raft, plugging leaks in a submersible, volleying dodge-balls to break blocks, manipulating your character in a 3D environment and running an obstacle course. The multiple difficulty or challenge levels and online play add depth for individual users; while group play has easy free play. “Kinect Adventures” works and works well for a release title. This is a giant step forward into home entertainment and should be more of a success than 3D passive experiences.
4 out of 5 – Get It.
The third party title I played is “Dance Central” which comes from the makers of “Rock Band”. “Rock Band” blew the doors off of “Guitar Hero” by making a cleaner and more party focused experience to the music/rhythm genre and has set the standard in dancing/motion genre. “Dance Central” has a great soundtrack list of popular dance, club, hip-hop music which is a brand new experience for me considering I don’t normally listen to that kind of music, simply because I can’t dance in my car or workplace (I could, but I prefer to not have people stare at me).
“Dance Central” isn’t a tech demo, it eases the player into the experience because this is something completely new to gamers. This isn’t “Dance Dance Revolution” as you follow along and use your body to mimic the moves. The game doesn’t’ throw you to the wolves because before being able to select a song and dance to it, you can learn the moves and practice. Each song has three difficulty levels, easy, medium and hard; easy has the less moves to learn with more repetition, and hard is more of a full dance. During each song there is a “Freestyle” period where you can dance any way you want where you’re not penalized for getting funky by yourself. Flash cards scroll up on the right side of the screen showing you which moves are coming up however, if they were slightly more detailed, I think players would be better served. I do understand that there is limited screen space considering you have to follow quickly along with the character. There is online play and navigating the menus is easy without a traditional controller. If you have Xbox Live, you will be able to see how you compare against your friends’ scores.
“Dance Central” is a fun game; however if you have no experience with rhythm, music or dance, you’ll be frustrated and not have fun. I have rhythm, but I don’t have moves so you can only imagine what my “freestyle” dances look like. I’ve never had any issues in the Kinect not recognizing my moves and any errors I can blame on myself for not doing the move correctly. Practice makes perfect and best of all, the game looks good too. There’s no issues with texture pop-ins or screen lag either.
5 out of 5 – Get It.