The question has always hung over Kinect - how can it function in a traditional 3D action adventure without a joypad being used? The first Kinect game to resemble such a game has appeared in the shape of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows... and we're still none the wiser. Why? Because almost all control has apparently been taken away from the player. How do you run? Just stand still.
The demo was given by the films' Weasley twins (actors James and Oliver Phelps) to a packed Gamescom auditorium during EA's conference on Tuesday. The twins stood still while their on-screen characters raced through woodland, then, in sub-Virtua Cop simplicity, enemies appeared in front of the twins and stood still, waiting to be hit by a blast from their wands. Sure, there were some counter attacks, but due to what appeared to be massive input lag, the AI appeared to be as aggressive as a cornered tortoise to allow Kinect time to do its thing. Check it out:
Movement concerns aside, the combat itself looks worryingly haphazard. It appears to consist of two stances. One with both hands outstretched to form a magic shield, the other as a waving motion to simulate casting a spell with a wand. Repeat ad nauseum. What's worse, neither appeared to fit the actors' movements 'one to one', instead bringing 2006 era pre-programmed Wii animations to mind, triggered by approximate movements.
Above: The Phelps twins demonstrate Kinect control. Is this really a step forward for gaming?
Microsoft is clearly intending Kinect to be a casual gaming device to capture Wii's massive audience. But surely even massive Harry Potter fans will tire of this after a few minutes' play, regardless of their status as a gamer. Annoyingly, the series had been getting better with each instalment, so to take away the traditional adventure we've come to expect and replace it with what appears to be a very basic, gesture-based Kinect offering seems illogical. Especially when there's so much the technology could have been used for if combined with a joypad.
Why not use Kinect's microphone to shout 'expelliarmus'? Why not at least map character speed to leg movement? Sure, we're looking at a couple of minutes of demo time, but Sony managed to make PlayStation Move's Sorcery look next-gen in comparison. I sincerely hope my concerns are allayed when we get our own hands on the game and Kinect itself.
Am I being too harsh? Or does this truly bode extremely badly for traditional action games on Kinect? Have your say in the comments.
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