Top critical review
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Great fun, finicky controls, and this bundle is not a good deal compared to others.
on November 4, 2010
This technology is really cool. If you want to put something awesome under the tree, buy it. Some people will be speechless. Others will not.
I only give the Kinect with Kinect Adventures 3 stars. Some people feel this is harsh. However, I have specific reasons for doing so. The bottom line is:
1) The kinect is very finicky. Its the most finicky accessory I own, and I have a PS3, a wii, and an Xbox 360 with many accessories. The reason its finicky is because of how it works. Your clothing choices can affect its ability to track you. The room lighting can affect whether the face recognition (auto-login) can work. These aren't deal killers, but it's just not perfect. You will still have fun, and most of you will enjoy it even though it's not perfect.
2) The included game - Kinect Adventures - is not as deep as most games are. It has more material than a demo game. But it has less material than a full game. Unlike wii+wii sports (or wii+wii sports resort) you will NOT get weeks and weeks of gameplay from Kinect Adventures. Kinect Adventures IS FUN. But for the price of this product, I expected more.
3) This is not a paradigm shifting technology. For those of you who know videogames, this is a VERY EXCELLENT IMPROVEMENT on what the Playstation 2 "Eye Toy" could do. Considering how finicky the Kinect is, and the fact that Eye Toy technology is so old, I just think the Kinect is just "OK". I am not bowled over by it because, um, I've been around.
I fully expect that the price of the Kinect WILL COME DOWN in the near future and at that price it will be worth at least 4 stars. And the technology will be improved and work better, and it will be worth 4 or 5 stars. For now, I just give it 3.
And yes, I enjoy playing the Kinect and I'm glad I got it.
(end of short version)
There are a lot of videos that have been produced by Microsoft explaining what the Kinect does. I will not be talking about how the technology works, you can watch one of the many advertisements to see that. The Kinect system is really fun and if you are looking for something cool to put under your tree - this is it!
However, there are a few details I am critical about. And, if you have small children I particularly urge you to be very patient with your kinect. The kinect is finicky. The most finicky system out there.
1) The Kinect requires more room to play than any other game experience on the market today. If you can't fit a 9x6 throw rug on the floor, then, you can't play kinect in that room. There are very few children's bedrooms which have enough floor space to play this game. It's a limitation of how it works, and it makes complete sense if you are considering that it is motion control. If you have a small amount of space (say, less than 8 feet) then it is only recommended to play one player at a time. If you have 10 to 12 feet of space in front of your TV, you can play two players at once.
Did you catch that? Who has 10 to 12 feet of dead space in front of their TV? Some people, but not me. My couch is pushed back against the wall now. The coffee table is leaning against the right wall of the room.
2) The Kinect respects a tidy room. It has to establish the "floor" when it starts up. Microsoft has recommended that the floor be clean. The kinect cameras will have a more difficult time if you have clothes, schoolbooks, and papers everywhere. Before you play you may have to clean up a little. This is not a deal breaker, but the point is - its finicky.
3) You must have a well lit area without shadows or gameplay will suffer. Depending on the lights I have on in the room, the kinect may or may not be able to log me in, and often recommends that I set up a new account. When you set up your KinectID, it even recommends that you re-run the tests in different lighting and at different times of day to make sure its accurate. That's finicky. There is no other game system out there which cares enough to make you run tests multiple times a day. If you have a table lamp making a shadow across the game area, it may affect your gameplay (this is per a microsoft kinect video on youtube). The Kinect is slightly more finicky than, well, everything else.
4) During play, its easy to get out of range. Kind of like playing a game with a dance mat, you can work your way too far forward or too far to the side. The Kinect does tell you that this has happened. **This will not be a big deal for kids 12 and over.** But if you have younger kids playing together, they often push each other out of range without meaning to. In the river rapids, one kid will cross over the middle (in excitement) and the other kid just gets pushed out of the play field. You might have to establish the box on the floor or they will get frustrated: we say, if you move off the carpet, the Kinect can't see you - which provides something you can tell with your feet.
5) People who stand up are automatically added into play. People who are not playing should often be to the side, NOT behind the player. When I was watching the Kinetimals ad, I see the Mom and daughter #1 on the couch on the side wall, and daughter #2 playing. The chairs behind the player are empty. When they switch players, the Mom gets up, and the DAUGHTER SITS DOWN ON THE SIDE COUCH. This is an accurate representation of HOW YOU PLAY. But its not the normal way we (or most people I know) orient themselves and play.
Why does this matter? Kids sometimes get tired of sitting and stand up, and the Kinect automatically tries to initialize them as a player whether anyone wants it to. I can even see geriatric people getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the game and causing the player to get a lower score. I only mention this because, like the Wii, I feel that the Kinect is an "all ages" system.
As far as partying goes, if you are trying to get a high score, you need to have everyone in the room be a bit more controlled than if you were playing wii or xbox 360 with a controller. Thats right, party, but don't walk around! Don't stand behind the player.
7) It has to be able to map your skeleton. If you are wearing baggy pants, it will not be able to map your legs. Did you ever think your clothing choices would matter? Well, it does now! Children who are 48 inches tall often have problems with the Kinect thinking they are kneeling. This can be compensated somewhat in the setup, but lets be honest: my list of things that can and will go wrong is getting a bit long. The kinect is finicky.
Yes, the Kinect could be that great for you. But no, it won't necessarily be. All of these concerns can be fixed with a little trouble. They aren't deal killers. But the out-of-the-box experience is not always as magical as all of the 5 star reviews claim.
Another reason I am giving this product 3 stars is because the included game does not have as much depth as either the wii sports (which came with the wii) or the Wii Fit game that came with the balance board. I've only been playing on the kinect a few days, and already I feel I need to go out and spend $40 on another game to utilize this new technology for my enjoyment. Don't jump to the wrong conclusion: Kinect Adventures is fun. We enjoyed it. But in my opinion it doesn't have as much lasting power as it should have. I am sure that when the next game arrives in a few days, I will give that GAME a 5 star review.
This slight disappointment with the included game also tends to make me feel that the $150 price tag is a bit much. I'll spend $200 on the Wii, or $200 on the Kinect+1 game, when I've already bought an Xbox 360. Its really easy to see that the Kinect costs a premium. OR you can buy an Xbox with a Kinect for $100 more, without Kinect Adventures. It doesn't take a genius to realize that this means that Kinect Adventures is being sold at a value of (wait for it) $50 and has limited play value. I'm sorry, I'm still shaking my head over it. This bundle is just not worth the money!
I've also been around the block and remember the Playstation Eye toy, and I congratulate the Kinect team on making a motion control sensor that is about 300% better than the Eyetoy, if such an improvement can even be quantified. But. The Eye Toy Play 2 with Camera is still less than $20 and I think the Kinect can come down in price a bit too.
When the price of the kinect comes down, or the included game is improved, or the controls are not so finicky, then I will gladly add a star. Right now, I think the value is "its ok" which is 3 stars.
The BOTTOM LINE:
**Overall I would highly recommend the Kinect.** I think the game is very fun. My wife vastly prefers it to the wii. Anyone who dislikes video games where you have to push certain button combinations will prefer the Kinect. So I do think its worth buying. Its not perfect, but it is different. But I think its far from perfect and THIS BUNDLE does not deserve more than 3 stars.