Can Kinect do traditional games? Harry Potter demo seems to say 'no'

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.

17 Aug, 2010




  • kibbles0515 - August 20, 2010 3:14 a.m.

    I'm not going to buy Kinect. Well, I also don't own an Xbox 360 (no money). But I WANT an Xbox; I DON'T WANT Kinect. I have a Wii, I play it every once in a while, but I'm never blown away by the controls. Kinect looks like a fun diversion, but it is certainly not gonna sell the console for me. But I'm not the audience. Unfortunately, the audience that is looking forward to Kinect is a bunch of friggin morons.
  • philipshaw - August 19, 2010 12:32 p.m.

    This just proves why Move works and Kinect is as step backwards in terms of gaming. The reason Move works is because you still have direct control where as all Kinect games that have been shown off are all on rails
  • Xobi - August 19, 2010 8:20 a.m.

    Kinect without a controller has many limitations..... this just goes to show it. I would want something tangible in my hands........... plus the lag and the inability to move my player.
  • alienkid771 - August 19, 2010 5:20 a.m.

    November 4, 2010=December 21, 2012
  • The_Tingler - August 19, 2010 3:07 a.m.

    "the series had been getting better with each instalment" Um, no, Half-Blood Prince was terrible. Order of the Phoenix was pretty good. This version I'm on the fence about.
  • Crabhand - August 19, 2010 12:38 a.m.

    It's like watching a car crash in slow motion, you don't want to see the aftermath but at the same time you can't wait for the impact. Every demo shown so far has been another tire flying off the car, or a hunk of twisted metal bursting into flames. I'm less concerned about how the tech will appeal to gamers and more concerned about all of the people that are going to be duped into dropping several hundred dollars into this... thing. It's either completely wrong or ahead of it's time, but right now it's definitely looking like a poor move by Microsoft.
  • Triscuitable - August 18, 2010 10:34 p.m.

    The only people who will buy these games are the people who are stupid enough to not realize it's a gimmick. Probably the shitty brats who think they can get away with calling me a "Fan Of Grenade Spam" if you catch my drift. And those shitty brats will steal their parent's credit cards and say the babysitter did it. I actually had experience with that type of brat. The kid used the credit card his parents foolishly left out to buy a PS3 when they werer $500. I was babysitting, and a week later, he pointed the finger at me. Luckily I had luck on my side, because the kid was dumb enough to use his account. When the parents checked the email thanking him for his order, his name was clearly there. Needless to say, the PS3 is now mine and I don't babysit for him anymore. Point is Kinect sucks. Captcha: Mein kampf SERIOUSLY CAPTCHA?! SERIOUSLY?! HITLER?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
  • Xenos - August 18, 2010 9:39 p.m.

    What makes it even worse is the developers they gave it to aren't even using the potential they showed at E3. From what I remember it could supposedly rotate and follow you to a certain degree and in the ad's it can also tilt up and down. So you mean to tell me you couldn't think of none of those thing while designing the game? Maybe someone will come along and prove me and the other that also agree wrong and make something fun and innovative with it. What really urks me about the kinect in general is this nothing more than a x350 ps eye. And on top of that am kinda of angry that sony had this tech for years and we still don't have voice recognition?! Come on son.... But as far as this video goes, and in the words of my friend "it's like watching a car wreck on the interstate, you know your slowing down traffic and you wanna keep going but you can't stop looking." lol
  • taterboob - August 18, 2010 7:09 p.m.

    So, it's basically on on rails "shooter" like Time Crisis or Virtua Cop? Hooboy, that's innovative.
  • urwifemykids - August 18, 2010 6:58 p.m.

    microsoft i beg of you to stop showing previews your losing us with this crap you'll make more money off people if you just stop showing demos to show how much it sucks
  • bkoz117 - August 18, 2010 6:32 p.m.

    We all know that this stuff is going solely to the casual gamers, the question that I have is whether or not this actually seems less complicated to a non-gamer. Standing still while your character walks makes less sense than a joystick to me, I wonder if thats how other people see it.
  • big000 - August 18, 2010 5:36 p.m.

    Microsoft, just stop acting like you're the greatest of all consoles and quit with Kinect. Everyone knows that it sucks. Focus on making good games instead of Kinectimals and such. If you keep promoting Kinect you'll have the same effect as the Nintendo Wii, great technology but games the suck. Please stop with it!
  • Darkshine34 - August 18, 2010 5:10 p.m.

    That doesn't look like the least bit of fun. Mostly because it doesn't work.
  • FenrirKar - August 18, 2010 4:41 p.m.

    Not even guile's theme can make this watchable. Kinect is going to be such an epic fail, game wise...alas, it might sell well to people who don't know any better. Maybe.
  • ultimatepunchrod - August 18, 2010 4:35 p.m.

    and this adds to the games on kinect that i think will suck. it really is lame that people are still somehow excited about this. it has potential but every single delivery has been lackluster at best. and im sorry but i just cannot get excited about a dancing game.
  • Tronto13 - August 18, 2010 4:30 p.m.

    Everyone keeps babbling on about this being an epic fail. To some degree it is but lets be honest has anyone actually ever liked a harry potter game for the 360?? apart from lego HP they all suck so kinect shouldn't be judged on a game that is always going to suck (movie tie-in)wait for decent developers to release their stuff to see it done properly!
  • keefster - August 18, 2010 3:57 p.m.

    @hayroon yes I do but seeing as its mid-to-late 2010 I'm kind of refering to the work year/school year.
  • reveffect - August 18, 2010 3:10 p.m.

    That...was very difficult to watch. I only saw the first couple of seconds and I just had to stop it cause I felt so bad for them. They could have gotten some paid actor that no one knows to shamelessly just stand there and flail about while trying to play a laggy game instead of having two somewhat well know actors in a blockbuster movie emberras themselves and end up on youtube. I was behind kinect for a while there but now after seeing the games that are coming out and how laggy it still is this close to release, I am starting to lose confidence in kinect now. They really have to pull something out of their ass with kinect to convince me that this could be worth something cause the games that are coming out seem pretty crapy even by casual game standards and thats sayin something. I see kinect more as something to use along with a controller than just by itself because I think kinect could inhance a gaming experience but only if couple with a controller because by itself its not that great. The only way movement would be possible with connect while not using a controller would be running in place or some sort of mind reading helmet so you can control the character with your mind but thats technically a controler and technoligy is no where near good enough for something like that.
  • Hayroon1 - August 18, 2010 3:09 p.m.

    @keefster I hope you know zelda is next year
  • cj12297 - August 18, 2010 2:51 p.m.


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