I had to review the Xbox360 Kinect Motion Control system to see how well it tracked players and how it compared against the Wii Console. I purchased the Xbox360 with Kinect 250GB bundle and an extra wireless controller plus a flat screen mount for the Kinect system.
Xbox360 with Kinect Setup
The first thing you want to do is make sure the room is positioned and laid out with enough space for an Xbox360 with a Kinect system. You will need approximately 16 square feet of playing area at a minimum, 4′ of width, 4′ of front to back. Think of like a big grid on your floor, and your TV must be centered in the room with enough space for the Kinect sensor to have a clear square. This means chairs, furniture, couches…etc must be off to the side or far enough behind so as to not obstruct the sensor. You can tune the Xbox Kinect to where it will allow you to be 2-3′ away from the sensor but you can only play single player mode if there isn’t enough space to accommodate a 2nd player standing beside you. Remember that unlike the Wii the Xbox Kinect requires full body motion which means swinging arms, legs…etc and you need considerably more room around you and another player to take advantage of the system.
Once you have the space arrangement planned, set your Xbox 360 console next to your TV and configure your Kinect Motion Sensor. As I didn’t have a bookshelf or any shelving at all centered around my TV, I had to buy a Kinect Flat TV mount, which lets you screw the mount into the back of your flat screen TV and has a tripod like surface on top where you mount or Kinect Sensor bar.
The sensor bar itself consists of a camera, microphone and other sensors to determine your location and track your movements. In testing it was adept at recognizing a human body and shows the main wireframe points of the body very well.
After setting up your Xbox 360 you will power it on and go through about 15 minutes of setup configuration which will involve updating the software, configuring the locale and other settings and connecting with your Internet via Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi. Setting up the Kinect takes a few extra minutes as you have to let it scan your body and the area to make sure it calibrates properly. At anytime you can adjust the calibration manually by tilting the Kinect sensor up, down and it can be used to track depth and fine tune its “box” of vision.
The Xbox360 Kinect comes the Kinect Adventures game which shows good use on how the motion control system works, it tracks your moves very well but has Mii like avatars instead of showing your real body on the screen. In fact one of the weaknesses of the Kinect system is that the camera is fairly low resolution and when it does take your pictures or show you the grainy picture is something out of webcams pre 2002 which is a bit annoying considering the Kinect also doubles as a video conference system between other Kinect individuals online. You can literally have video conferences with it which is a nice little feature.
The Kinect does however shine in that it detects your entire body, playing some of the mini games in Kinect Adventures really show the capability here. You can punch, kick or block balls with your head or torso, the detection is fantastic and there is clear depth. Swinging your arm back to front with force will reflect how hard a ball is hit. In one game where you have to plug leaks called 20,000 leaks you literally have to step in various locations while using your arms and head to block cracks in the glass structure your character is in.
Xbox360 Kinect Pros
- Kinect allows for full body imaging which means you are the controller, punches, hits, crouches, kicks are all captured and display in real time on the Kinect.
- Microphone allows for limited voice commands, you can open menus and even perform some game functions with microphone speech.
- You expend far more energy playing Kinect vs Wii due to entire body being used in games, this can burn more calories (see cons too).
- Kinect allows for video conferencing and other internet chat/video related features.
- You can download free Demo’s of several Kinect games so you can try them to see if you like before you buy.
- Games that involve your full body are incredible, check out the review of Dance Masters to see how a dancing game that you don’t just follow queues and step on objects, but how you dance is actually tracked and required to gain points.
Xbox360 Kinect Cons
- Kinect sensor is great but some games are poorly programmed and can’t pick up your movement properly, MotionSports boxing game for example you have to punch way too slow for it to recognize and it feels false and fake, you should be able to swing full speed and have fast movement. The Kinect Adventures has better motion programming than MotionSports in my opinion.
- Kinect sensor has low resolution camera which means grainy profile photo’s and video when you use it to post pics or video of yourself online.
- Lots of room is required for the Xbox Kinect and if you have a tiny apartment this just won’t be the system for you. You need a good room with a good 16 foot square of no obstructions. (4’x4′ minimum).
- I had some multiplayer issues with adults and kids side by side as the Kinect can only adjust to people who are relatively close in size. My 4 year old is unable to play Kinect with me because even though there are a ton of kids games, the camera has to either tilt down to see and register his body type successfully which makes my own body taller than the screen. To play with a kid you almost need 10′ of distance so the larger person can stand far behind and the kid can stand close to the Sensor so they can appear larger to the Kinect sensor. This is a big handicap as one of the main reasons I bought the Kinect system is so my 4 year old can play some of the kids games. The Kinect also has a hard time picking up a 4 year olds hands and doesn’t see them as objects for selecting things, my 7 year old and myself were fine but it is hard for kids under 7 to use the Kinect system.
- Lack of quality games is still a big issue with the Kinect system, there are less than 14 titles available and most are not very good or so party like that it doesn’t have any value for anyone but casual gamers. With so much potential they should make more quality games though and I would love to see an RPG or action game with a prop foam sword you can use and it can detect and track. Since the Kinect system is very good at tracking, a nice specially designed foam blade and shield should track really well for some fighting games.
Xbox 360 + Kinect Review Summary
In summary the system is astounding and really remarkable but lacks some core game titles and needs higher quality games to truly launch this technology from party gimmick to a potential future of console gaming. I was impressed enough with the Xbox360 and Kinect system itself to say it is worth the money and can provide some great entertainment. There is a strong lack of E+ titles for Xbox360 compared to the Nintendo Wii however and if you have little ones in the house you may have an issue with more limited titles and the Kinect having issues tracking younger kids while trying to play with an adult. There wasn’t a problem with my 4 year old and 7 year old playing Kinect games together, but an adult and child side by side is hard to configure so it works properly.