Xbox 360 Kinect

Posted by Ub3rG33k on Nov 10, 2010 in Microsoft, Tech, XBOX 360 |

I’ve been interested in the Kinect ever since it was announced at the 2009 E3 show, under the name of Project Natal.

I was able to pre-order back in September, so me being the early adopter I am, ordered it straight away.

Well todays the day, and it’s finally release day for the Kinect, and I have to say I’ve pleasantly surprised. I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I was extremely dubious of how good this would be, as y previous experience with any camera controlled titles, have been a bit rubbish to be honest. The most recent one I played was You’re In the Movies, and to be honest, it was utter rubbish.

First thing I have to say about it, is I didn’t realise just how big it is, it’s around the length of the next Xbox 360S.

Next thing I notices were all the cables in the box, there were loads. These however won’t be needed if you have one of the newer 360S console. If you don’t, don’t worry, you have a mass of cables to power the kinect, and extend the USB sockets of the standard 360.

So how was it…well let me tell you, pretty bloody good !

Once I’d updated the software for the Kinect, the Kinect Video and Kinect Adventures, we were good to go.

First of all you active the Kinect by waving at it, once acknowledged it fires up the kinect dashboard, which is different to the normal Xbox dashboard. I then started with setting up a Kinect ID, this essentially joins your Kinect ID with your profile. As part of the setup, the kinect has you standing in various poses, in different locations in your room. Once complete it has your height, build and face in stored against your profile. This is used later for jumping in and out of games.

The next step was the Kinect tuning. It ran through evening from lighting, to sending a test signal to each speaker to measure the background noise.

Next was the the voice control. I was shocked how good this was. Basically you say “Xbox….”, and a bar pops up at the bottom with all available controls, or you can say what you see on the screen. So basically if you want to watch the Sky Player, you simply say…”Xbox..Sky”. I tried this out with the Last.fm app, and was surprised it heard me over my Happy Hardcore station…but it heard the commands fine. I even tried a series of stupid accents, and it still understood me.

Finally I tried was the Kinect video. This is basically video calling on the Xbox, but with the added advantage of being able to video call your MSN contacts. Now this had to be one of the coolest features of the Kinect. If you start a video call, the Kinect tracks your face, so if you walk up and down the room, the motorised camera will follow and keep focused on you. I though this was cool, but not as cool as when I sat down on the sofa next to C, the camera panned out to focus on both of us !

So time for Kinect Adventures. As expected, this is essentially a tech demo, basically the Wii Sports for Kinect. There are only a 5 mini game, but they cover the full features of the controller.

First of all, Rallyball is a sort of handball on speed. You hit a ball at a target, while deflecting balls that are coming at you. You can use your hands, legs and head, so in that sense it truly utilizes the Kinect’s potential. But only in a limited way.

Reflex Ridge puts your avatar on a platform, where you need to react to avoid obstacles. You will duck, jump and dodge your way through a gauntlet to reach the finish line.

Space Pop is a gravity-defying game that puts you in a small room filled with bubbles that you need to hit to pop. The game uses depth in an interesting way.

River Rush is similar to Reflex Ridge, but you have more control. As you cruise down a series of rapids in a raft, you move left and right to steer, and jump to elevate your transportation while collecting stars along the way.

Finally, 20,000 Leaks is perhaps the simplest game of the bunch. Cracks appear in the glass wall that is holding back the ocean, and you need to plug them with your body.

Initially I played the games solo, but later C came to join me, the kinect automatically recognised her from the Kinect ID we had set up, and added her straight into the game.

Finally, there are a lot of discussions going on about space and lighting for the Kinect. I personally had about 1.5 – 2 metres of space in front of me, and the Kinect seemed very happy with this. As for the lighting, once I’d created my Kinect ID, I was able to switch off the main light, and just use my smaller side light. This picked up without issue.

All in all, a very good device, and can’t recommend one enough. At this moment in time, I’ll be more inclined to use the Kinect over the Playstation move, as I just think it works a little better, the only downside is I think the games will be limited to Wii type games.

As always, unboxing photos below.

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