E3 09: 8 great uses for Microsoft's Project Natal system

So, Microsoft's Project Natal then. We have to admit, after all our fears that the Xbox 360 would follow the Wii down the path of inane waggle-dross, we find ourselved pretty damn impressed by the capabilities of the HD big boy's new motion capture controller. The demos at Monday's E3 press conference showed off a frankly amazing level of control detail and an amazing array of interaction possibilities.

So naturally, our minds have been spinning with the possibilities this morning. And we thought we'd share some of them with you, in the form of photoshopped visions of the future. Some are serious, some are not, and some sit uncomfortably between the two.



Given the fully body-controlled Avatar demo at the press conference, Natal's potentially Wii-destroying capabilities and all those non-too-subtle digs at waggle control during the presentation, we'd bet real dollar-pounds on there being a demo unit set up in Microsoft HQ with this sole purpose.



Okay, so we can't see Project Natal being too great at replacing analogue stick character movement, but an on-rails Gears spin-off could be fantastic. With the system's camera's able to piece together full 3D movement and player positioning, we could make the old Doctor Who cliche of hiding behind the sofa a reality at last. Just duck down to avoid fire, then pop up and make playground gun gestures with your hands to fire. Brilliant.



Just minutes after Mr. Hawk had proudly impressed the conference with his new motion control skateboard peripheral, Microsoft went and showed target footage of Natal doing everything Tony Hawk Ride does, only without the need for a board. Did anyone not feel sorry for the guy? Apart from the unlucky passer-by he presumably punched out in the car park?



While we at Radar are of course the god-like pinnacle of human fitness, the kind of full-on fighting action depicted in Natal's concept video would probably leave most in a wheezing heap after a couple of rounds. Boxing however, is begging for the motion capture treatment. Upper body movement and some occasionally quick footwork would be all you'd need, and we already know that Natal is capable of detecting the swift, precise movements and full 3D motion needed to make this work. Wobble Sports boxing, it would not be.



Given the way it can comprehend any kind of physical gesture in 3D space, someone is bound to make a fitness program for Natal. So why not a hardcore trainer for a hardcore console?



On rails again, as anything else would invove too much jogging on the spot for our liking (and because using a pad to steer would be rather at odds with Project Natal's "no controller required" philosophy"). But just imagine a Mirror's Edge 2 where Faith built her own momentum while you jumped, ducked and grabbed at swing-bars and zip-lines to keep her going. It would be just like a first-person Sonic and the Secret Rings. Only awesome rather than horrible.


The possible advent of finger-pointing control could instantaneously wipe out all of the problems with making RTS possible without a keyboard and mouse. Finally!



Sales for a keep-fit game not too great amongst the traditional 360 market? No problem. Project Natal's body and facial recognition abilities could let the 360 maul a particular user's body image until they cracked. It could probably even tell if they were crying, so it would know it had done its job.


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  • Dragoner - June 9, 2009 8:30 a.m.

    Combine this with 3D video and hellz yeah :D
  • 360nerd - June 7, 2009 10:27 p.m.

    hey unorignal, this may have been the wrong article but that would still be awesome. Mario Kart would be perfect for project natal if Microsoft and Nintendo could swallow their pride and just make one f***ing game together.
  • Daywalkr - June 4, 2009 11:17 p.m.

    Project Natal + New Saw game = sweeeeet
  • jballboy88 - June 4, 2009 8:45 p.m.

    ALL OF THESE WOULD BE A LOT BETTER WITH THE PS3 MOTION CONTROLLER!!! FPS: if u hav access to an analog stick (which they may/may not hav on the ps3mote, i havent seen it) then u can hav an actual real fps game with it. plus, if you duck behind the chair, it could look like a melee, which would cause soo much frustration. RTS: say you're about to tell a couple tanks where to go on the battlefield. How would u select those tanks? without an onscreen cursor, how would you know exactly where you're pointing? also, HOW WOULD THE GAME KNOW IF U ARE JUST NAVIGATING THE MAP, GROUPING PEOPLE, OR GIVING THEM DIRECTIONS??? u need buttons to toggle different settings/modes. U DONT NEED A FULL-BLOWN CONTROLLER, BUT U NEED SOME SORT OF BUTTON INTERACTION!!!
  • Starplatinum - June 3, 2009 8:11 a.m.

    Bwaaahaha!!! OMG poor Tony Hawk and his face!!
  • StickyLungs - June 2, 2009 10:22 p.m.

    "Project Natal ...could let the 360 maul a particular user's body image until they cracked. It could probably even tell if they were crying, so it would know it had done its job." Made me laugh out loud. Gamesradar FTW.
  • LordsOfTechno - June 2, 2009 5:44 p.m.

    Is that Liz McDonald from corrie hiding behind the chair in the second image? ^.^;
  • pimlicosound - June 2, 2009 4:59 p.m.

    The RTS control is something I hadn't thought of! That could be bloody brilliant! Finally, we could play RTS games on our consoles. No longer will I feel sneaky longings to return to my unloved PC in the office.
  • Defguru7777 - June 2, 2009 4:30 p.m.

    I'm remaining skeptical too. Just don't eff up the main games (Halo, Gears, Crackdown) with half-assed Natal crap.
  • jamminontha1n2 - June 2, 2009 4:30 p.m.

    is it just me or does milo look like he has terminal cancer?
  • oryandymackie - June 2, 2009 4:06 p.m.

    I don't want to send you from this site, but this is frankly freaky. It shows a video of "Milo", and seriously, the woman's reflection actually ENTERS the game, and she shows a Milo a picture she's drawn, and it goes INTO the game, and she can catch fish, and her hand movements are tracked, and by God it's either beautiful or evil, or both. Peter Molyneux will either be put to death, or named a hero.
  • JohnnyMaverik - June 2, 2009 4 p.m.

    Blah, half of those things make me go >.< and half of them would be fun for a while but gimmics and get old quick. The rts and boxing idea i like, the shooter interesting but not as good as a plain shooter with a bloody CONTROLLER plugged in, and the platformer, ive been thinking of that myself, and ive come to the conlusion it'd either end up a half cocked immitation of the experiance of playing a platformer with a controller, or great but lead to the real possbility of mass natal plaformer related injuries across the world. I remain highly skeptical.
  • Unoriginal - June 2, 2009 3:08 p.m.

    I'm still hoping for Mario Karty
  • MechGyver - June 2, 2009 3:07 p.m.

  • CreeplyTuna - June 12, 2009 1:49 a.m.

    this "no controller philosophy" could make or break gaming (i think it's gonna break it) NO CONTROLLERS--I MEAN, WTF!
  • Spybreak8 - June 5, 2009 12:42 a.m.

    I don't mean to be that guy but you really just used Halo Wars for hand gesture controls?! Why not use a screenshot to a game that needs good controls like Supreme Commander or Stormrise. That said I would love to control a game like a Black and White big hand hehe.
  • lovinmyps3 - June 4, 2009 4:54 a.m.

    i dont own a 360 (see username) but id be interested to see what microsoft does with this
  • mikejr13 - June 3, 2009 11:16 p.m.

    hilarious. and some really great ideas too.
  • purpleshirt - June 3, 2009 9:48 p.m.

    WOW! so when my friend is playing a racing video game I CAN CHANGE THE TIRES!!!! OMGZZZZ IM SO EXITED!!!!
  • GrantG - June 3, 2009 3:32 p.m.

    I can't wait! So much for Tony Hawk's game, that's just bad timing.

Showing 1-20 of 31 comments

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