I’m starting to get worried about the Xbox 360. It’s a superb piece of kit but the Kinect – Microsoft’s attempt at motion control – seems too clever for its own good. And it’s starting to attract some criticism. Nintendo and Sony have developed systems that are at the same time simpler and more flexible, particularly at the moment when we’re in a transition period between gamepad games and motion control games.
The technical brilliance of Kinect is the crux of the problem – it relies 100% on motion detection and this means you have no wand or any other type of controller in your hand. This means you have no physical buttons at all. It’s an amazing piece of technology but in terms of the games it can support, it seems incredibly limited. The early Kinect version of Forza 3 under development allows you to steer the car using your arms, but they haven’t figured out how to do acceleration and braking yet.
Consider a Kinect version of any modern game and the lack of buttons always seems to be a problem. How do you fire a gun? How do you switch weapons? Or throw a grenade? So it’s not going to work for first person shooters.
Maybe Kinect isn’t intended to bring motion control to existing games – perhaps the idea is to bring in a whole new genre of game that is designed with pure motion control in mind right from the start. It might just take some time for developers to get the hang of it. Meanwhile, the PS3 is already getting patches to existing games that can take advantage of their Move system straight away. The more conventional system integrates much more easily with existing titles.It’s funny how the PS3 was always hyped to be more powerful than the 360, and when this didn’t materialise into the games released the argument was that it would take time for developers to harness the power. I’m not convinced by this – they haven’t managed it even now and although the theoretical processing power is higher, it seems like in the reality of game design it’s just not accessible. With motion control, Microsoft look to be heading down the same path – it will take time for developers to get to grips with Kinect – question is – will they ever?