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Kinection breaking!

Microsoft has ventured into the motion-sensing market with great technology but poor games.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2010 16:13 IST
Avinash Bali
Avinash Bali
Hindustan Times

Hardcore gamers may be skeptical about motion- controlled gaming and there are good reasons for that — lack of precision and bad software. Almost every new piece of hardware that attempts to “revolutionise” gaming falls prey to these shortcomings.

After Nintendo and Sony, it’s now Microsoft’s turn to dabble in the motion-controlled arena. Should you rush out and buy it right away? Read on!

If you own the new slim Xbox 360 console, the Kinect can be connected via the USB port. For older models, the Kinect sensor requires extra power, which you get using a three-pin plug socket. Using an infrared emitter and a CMOS sensor, Kinect detects, renders and tracks your body in 3D space, even if you’re in low-light conditions. There’s also an RGB camera that enables face recognition and video chat. Finally, there’s the mic that picks up voice for dashboard commands and chat.

With the Kinect, there’s always a struggle for space — you have to maintain a distance of 6-8 feet from the sensor, and the sensor needs to be placed 2-4 feet from the ground. However, these measurements change depending on your height and the size of the room, and this causes problems. Audio calibration is also an issue if you live in a noisy area. There’s nothing extra to be installed in terms of software as Microsoft already added in Kinect support with their last dashboard update.

Ready to play
You can navigate the menus controller free, and standing up or seated. Navigating is a fairly smooth affair, but you only get the basic menu options if you don’t have a US gamertag. Setting up a Kinect ID is a painful procedure and the calibration process is lengthy. But once that’s done, you never have to calibrate prior to playing games like with PS3’s Move.

Now a bit about the games. It’s obvious that Microsoft has targeted Kinect at the casual crowd. We reviewed the dancing game Dance Central, a collection of mini-games called Kinect Adventures and a racing gaming called Joyride. While Dance Central was enjoyable, Kinect Adventures and Joyride were generic and boring. And as with all motion-controlled gaming, even half an hour of playtime tires you out.

The Kinect is a good piece of technology that should evolve with time. Yes, there are also logistic issues that you cannot ignore; so unless you have a big house, Kinect is out of the question for you.

What we like
Technically impressive
No multiple calibrations
Navigation is cool

What we don’t
Requires lots of space
Too expensive
Bad launch lineup

First Published: Dec 28, 2010 15:01 IST