Kinect for Xbox 360

Kinect review: We put the Xbox 360's new motion controller through its paces -- is Kinect worth it?

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Microsoft Kinect
  • Microsoft Kinect
  • Microsoft Kinect
  • Microsoft Kinect
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Innovative and beginner-friendly control scheme, suitable for all ages, good range of fitness titles

Cons

  • Some games suffer from lag issues, setting up can be a chore

Bottom Line

Kinect for Xbox 360 still has a lot to prove. The games we have seen so far are quite limited in scope (most are variations on the party and fitness genres). That said, the potential is there for more exciting and innovative titles in the future.

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Kinect for Xbox 360 has finally landed on store shelves across the country. For those who have been living under a rock for the past few months, Kinect for Xbox 360 is a full-body motion control system that mimics your movement in-game. It essentially turns you into the controller, with every hand and limb gesture replicated onscreen. (This sets it apart from the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation Move, which both require handheld controllers.)

Kinect vs. Move vs. Wii

[See how the Kinect fares against the Wii and PlayStation Move in our in-depth preview: Kinect vs. Move vs. Wii.]

As the fresh-faced recruit in the impending motion-controller war, Kinect has a lot riding on its shoulders. In addition to being flanked by two worthy adversaries from Sony and Nintendo, it must also placate the console's core base of 'hardcore' gamers. Kid-friendly Kinect games like Kinect Adventures and Kinectinals are a far cry from the gritty likes of Call of Duty: Black Ops or Gears of War.

We put Kinect for Xbox 360 through its paces — along with our pulse rates — during a week-long assessment in our Test Centre. Read on to discover our verdict.

Kinect explained

Kinect for Xbox 360 is a motion-sensing camera with advanced high-resolution tracking. The hardware continuously projects an infrared 3D box in your living room, and tracks changes within this area. In gaming terms, it works by mapping your body parts in-game (it can also respond to voice commands).

The Kinect sensor plugs into the Xbox 360 via one of its USB ports. It will work with all versions of the Xbox 360 console.

Kinect vs. Move vs. Wii
Kinect motion sensor peripheral

Microsoft is touting its new control scheme as 'full body play', with the player's arms, legs, feet and hands all being utilised in-game. As you can imagine, this leads to some very energetic gaming sessions: some games require you to jump, duck and run on the spot.

Kinect can also be used for non-gaming tasks. For instance, you can flip through the Xbox 360's menus or rewind a video clip simply by waving your arm. (It makes you feel like Tom Cruise in the movie Minority Report — very cool indeed.) The sensor can also recognise facial features and log users into Xbox Live just by looking at their face.

But first and foremost, Kinect for Xbox 360 is a games device aimed at casual gamers (that is to say families, fitness enthusiasts and people who don't normally play video games).

Kinect vs. Move vs. Wii
Kinect games can be quite energetic

Setting up

Setting up Kinect for Xbox 360 is quite simple; at least in theory. The sensor plugs into your Xbox 360 console and resides either above or below your TV. However, we found that some recent flat-screen televisions are too narrow to support the sensor's base. (There are no clamps or suction cups to secure the device.) Consequently, some users will be forced to position the sensor below their televisions, which may not be ideal with young children or pets wandering around.

Kinect vs GamePro
Kinect calibration card

The next step is to calibrate the sensor — a task that's easier said than done. While it's not rocket science, the process does take some getting used to. We imagine younger players may struggle to get the device up and running without their parents' help. In other words, the Kinect should not be viewed as a baby-sitting device.

Creating a large enough space is also an issue, especially for two-player games. Indeed, when playing Kinect Adventures, we were forced to lug our television to the back of the Test Centre to make an appropriate space. (Microsoft recommends that players stand around six feet away from the sensor.)

Kinect vs GamePro
Kinect for Xbox 360 requires a large play area

Plenty of space is also required between each player; otherwise you're likely to get smacked in the face. (Check out this painful video for proof.) Naturally, the Kinect sensor requires an unbroken view of your entire body, so you'll need to move any furniture that's between you and the TV. This is bound to get frustrating if you have a coffee table smack-bang in the middle of your lounge room — it means you're going to have to shift it every time you want to play.

So to summarise, Kinect for Xbox 360 requires a pretty spacious lounge room — especially in multiplayer — and may need a parent's supervision to set up.

Kinect Games

Microsoft has gone for a 'casual' strategy for its Kinect launch line-up, with an emphasis on simplistic games that can be enjoyed by the whole family. This decision has surprised many Xbox 360 owners, who were expecting a more 'hardcore' focus. (After all, this is the console that introduced us to the 'curb stomp' and chainsaw machinegun.)

By contrast, Kinect games are, to quote Microsoft, "for everyone".

Kinect vs. Move vs. Wii
Kinectimals

Some of the Kinect games currently available include Kinect Sports (bowling, boxing, ping pong, etc.), Kinect Adventures (a collection of athletic mini-games), Kinect Joy Ride (a stunt-oriented racing game) and Kinectinals (a Nintendogs-style virtual pet game).

A suite of fitness games have also been released for Kinect, including Dance Central, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved and The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout.

Kinect vs GamePro
Kinect Adventures

Kinect for Xbox 360 currently supports a maximum of two players at the same time. By contrast, the PlayStation Move and Nintendo Wii support up to four players simultaneously. We think this is a tad disappointing, especially considering the device's firm emphasis on party games. Mind you, given the Kinect's huge space demands, you’d probably have play in a warehouse to fit four players onscreen (we exaggerate for effect).

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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Read more on these topics: gaming peripherals, games, XBox 360, Microsoft Kinect

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