What We Loved, What We Hated About The Xbox 360 Kinect

What We Loved, What We Hated About The Xbox 360 Kinect

Microsoft calls it a new console, but the Kinect is really a fresh coat of paint for the Xbox 360, promising to deliver not just motion gaming, but controller-free gaming to the masses.

We’ve had the peripheral add-on in our offices for a little more than a week now, time enough for us to play through the seven games we were able to get our hands on, to test the limitations of the hardware and to figure out what the camera and microphone array brings to the Xbox 360 experience.

Over the course of tonight and tomorrow we will be delivering to you reviews for seven games, break-downs of the way Kinect changes the non-gaming face of the Xbox 360, tech tests, guides, videos pictures and anything else you’d want to know about the Xbox 360 Kinect.

Why don’t you hang out and join us for a read? If you don’t have the time, or would rather cut to the chase, I’ve summarized all of our thoughts below in concise summaries. But remember, the full, in depth coverage will be hitting the site throughout the morning complete with plenty of videos and images.

Note: If you have no interest in reading about the move, maybe you should check out this link for the day: http://www.kotaku.com/tag/not:kinect

The Hardware
Totilo and I agree: The Xbox 360 Kinect is a winner, offering a brand new way not just to play games but to interact with your TV. It just may not be one you want to invest in quite yet. At launch there are no strong games to push it and the steep price may keep some rightfully away initially. Controlling games without anything in our hands is a welcome step forward for the industry.

The Game Reviews
Kinect Adventures: Kinect Adventures is a wonderful introduction to Kinect’s flavor of motion gaming. Playing a game with nothing in your hands takes a bit of getting used to but Kinect Adventures manages to both ease you into that experience and make the learning curve fun. Packed with four difficulty settings, quite a few levels in each activity and the ability to earn not just achievements but animated statues, Kinect Adventures is the sort of game you’ll end up coming back to again and again.

Kinect Sports: Kinect Sports offers an interesting variety of games to play alone and with friends. It’s fun when it works, but it doesn’t always work. Having a bowling ball or a javelin stick to your hand or a boxer have a sudden spasms can ruin the experience. In the end that’s going to be the greatest challenge this Kinect game faces. A great experience, no matter how fun, can’t survive working only most of the time.

Dance Central: When I first tried Dance Central I said I thought it was the best Kinect game at E3. I also said it was the game with the greatest potential at the show. I haven’t changed my mind. It would be nice if the game had more features, more modes and perhaps twice the music, but the core concept works beautifully. Like Rock Band, Dance Central creates an illusion and puts you at the centre of it.

Kinectimals: For kids I expect Kinectimals to be an irresistible showpiece that delights them simply by letting them feel like they have a cute tiger cub they can pet by scratching the air in front of their TV. For traditional gamers, Kinectimals is worth a look. There’s meat on its bones and a successful abundance of simple but smart Kinect tech tricks.

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved: Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is the rough draft of something that could be great. A home workout system that can track and audibly correct your body movements would be a magnificent boon to people who can’t afford or are otherwise unable to exercise outside of their home. Your Shape is not a great workout alternative for those who already have a fit lifestyle. It may not be ideal for those who want some of the long-form workout-tracking that competing exercise games offer. Nevertheless, it is an advance, a worthy option with an exciting future.

Kinect Joy Ride: Kinect Joy Ride is not your Gran Turismo killer nor your Forza replacement. It’s a simplified racing game that sacrifices as many sacred cows as Wii Sports Tennis. But while the Wii launch game was a streamlined successful transformation of a genre that hadn’t been huge in games since Pong, Joy Ride is, at best and at worst, as fun as it is unnecessary. Half-pipe makes this game one to get for parties if you are already committed to a Kinect, but otherwise this is a low-priority racing game in a genre packed with even bigger, more fully-functional competitors.

The Non-Gaming Side of Kinect
Kinect’s ability to turn the air in front of your face into a touch screen that can control movies, music and a bit of the dashboard is the sort of magical experience Microsoft has been selling since they unveiled Kinect.

That said, the offerings at launch are very limited. You can create avatars, you can message friends, you can check out Last.FM, Zune or ESPN and that’s about it.

What you can’t do is use the Kinect’s ability to recognise you as a new form of parental controls. Nor can you turn your Xbox 360 on or off. And you can’t (at least yet) control my favourite non-gaming app on the dashboard: Netflix.

Still, what it does it does very well and I’m sure more is coming.


  • ok. i’m convinced. M$ paid you guys. Every other review site is scoring everything kinect LOW scores but you guys are desperately trying to put the best possible SPIN on kinect and its games. and more proof is how one of your guys at kotaku rated sony’s 2010 E3 show a “C” and microsoft’s 2010 E3 show a “B” or i think he actually said an “A”. YEAH RIGHT. FANBOY RIGHT THERE

    • Heaven forbid they enjoy it.

      All the same, they do openly state in this article that some games are broken (sports), some are unnecessary/incomplete and that features are limited.

      They gave Move a good review too, despite it only having one game score above 75 on Metacritic and 2 below 50(last I checked, in October).

      …which just means they’re in everyones pocket, right?

    • I’m also certain the “M$” was a giveaway.

      Most reviews I’ve read, including the (usually) ambivalent Engadget state that they’re cautiously optimistic as to what Kinect can offer. It obviously has a tonne of potential that just hasn’t been realised yet.

      Every positive review from Redmond must have been bought right? How about WP7? Or do you only blow Steve Jobs?

  • No mention of the awful awful lag?

    Im still interested to see what Kinect offers and will prob have it day one (Nov 18 Down Undah) to throw at the kids, but I have been underwhelmed so far. Some neat titles, if a little familiar (2006 deja vu, anyone?) Laggy, buggy and temperamental. AUS$200 for a slightly better EyeToy, running half the resolution of what was first touted, and with NO core games involvement from launch.
    Maybe if there was a Fable 3 Kinect update it would slow down tradeins? But no.

    Some of the non-game applications are interesting, and yet again not must-have. Maybe webcamming your XBL friends in your birthday suit while partying up is exactly what the industry needs?

    Molyneux does it again. Overpromises, underdelivers.

    Move deserves to win the latest motion-control war, despite the best efforts of everyone from Beckham to Oprah. Once the hardcore games come out next year, it should be interesting. Will Dance Central stand up to Killzone 3 in Move and 3D?

    • Plenty of mentions of the lag, all over the internet reviews of kinect… and how it’s been marginalised to the point where it’s not really a factor.

  • I think undisputed is that HARDWARE wise MSFT have a winner(or won?)here. SOFTWARE wise it just needs time as with anything. MSFT & Sony have amazing partners so unlike the Wii I believe we’ll see some amazing titles from both parties!

  • Ok, Big difference between move and kinect. the HARDWARE for Move scored way higher than the HARDWARE for kinect on metacritic, look it up douchebags.

    and what’s this “potential” crap? it’s not like the ps3 whereas in 2006 it suffered but it was a fact that the ps3’s hardware was literally untapped but WHAT THE HELL IS THERE TO UNTAP WITH KINECT? ADD BUTTONS??? OH….. yeah shut the hell up you guys will back this kinect crap even when this thing’s popularity continues to deminish.

    …and M$ does own or have partnerships with many sites that report the news, such as MSN dipshits.

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