E3 2011: The last Kinect preview you’ll ever need

I may look like the happy idiot in this video, but I was very much crying on the inside. Here’s what the video doesn’t tell you: This is the last Kinect demo I’ll ever take professionally. No, it’s not just because I’m an out of shape smoker prone to sweaty sobbing fits. It’s just, well…. Think back to every Kinect demo you’ve ever seen at a press conference. Shit almost NEVER goes off successfully, and it’s even worse in demos.

Kinect is certainly an impressive piece of technology, but I’ve almost never had a demo in an optimal environment. Things I’m told will work rarely do, so in a preview, I’m left with having to fill the gaps with hypothetical aspects of control that may or may not work once the game ends up in your living room. Add to that Microsoft’s Kinect showcase on the E3 show floor took place in a reflective fish bowl, with a bunch of people walking in the background. Even as someone who doesn’t own or particularly care much for Kinect, I at least know full well that these are factors that will negatively impact the camera’s ability to get an accurate read.

Above: Lifestyle shots are why Photoshop was invented 

Furthermore, as a barely professional “GameZ Journalist” I’m aware that pointing another camera lens at Kinect, which is basically a beefy hyper-sensitive camera itself, causes weird issues… but Microsoft isn’t?! Over my shoulder there was an endless parade of press representatives, from all over the world, snapping and shooting away, potentially crippling the very thing Microsoft desperately wants them so see… GODDAMMIT!

CERTIFIED: Good Times! 

Nearly all my demos resulted in questions like this: “Okay, what was supposed to happen, Mr. Developer? Oh… good to know, because I definitely didn’t see that.” Our readers barely give a shit about Kinect as it is, so how are we supposed to take it seriously when it’s presented in an environment that makes games come off as largely broken and unplayable (which I imagine they are not.) With all that in mind, I’m going to quickly break down the five demos I saw in a manner that should ensure I never get invited to a Kinect appointment ever again!


Above: If you can identify this as the second game, then it’s probably for you 

The sequel to one of two reasons to own a Kinect, it’s exactly what you think it is: New songs plus a feature that should’ve been there from the start. It’s the first game, now with added drop in/drop out multiplayer and simultaneous two-player co-op. To its credit, Dance Central is without a doubt the only game to utilize Kinect in any meaningful or innovative way.

Above: Let us pray Kinect is capable of allowing two people to play simultaneously 

Of course, the one caveat to being the sole game to explore so many avenues of bodily recognition makes the game extremely physically demanding. I love the Dance Central, but I’d have to go to the gym for six months just to complete the last two tiers of the original game, so not even the incredibly compelling prospect of embarrassing myself to La Roux’s “Bulletproof” makes me feel like I need a new version anytime soon.


Above: Millions of dollars and the latest motion capture technology have finally culminated into an imprecise corridor shooter 

This here’s the Kinect game our readers are probably most anxious to hear about, so I’m going to try and choose my words carefully… This is the worst thing that’s ever existed. Its biggest problem is one games have tackled effortlessly since the medium’s inception: Moving forward. With a D-Pad and/or analog stick stuck in a galaxy far, far away, you basically hurl your character in a vague direction by leaning forward. And putting your arms out. And opening your hands. And putting one foot forward. All that bullshit, for something so simple and it didn’t even work half the time.

Above: Oh, at least there are Terminators. That’s new, right? 

And, dear God, the lightsaber… Swinging the famous glowing sword has been the dream of gamers since the fad of motion controls began. Kinect, however, is not the platform you’re looking for. Never once did I feel like the lightsaber, which doesn’t really cut through anything and is used primarily to whack robots until they explode, was corresponding with any movement I was performing. Once I moved on to the iconic “Jedi Kick” move, which would execute onscreen well after my foot had already landed back on the ground, it became clear that there was very little 1:1 control occurring here. Unless this thing is overhauled drastically, or I was playing in a radioactive cloud of anti-Kinect interference, expect this high profile title to piss off a lot of people.

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  • BlitzkriegBEAR7 - July 4, 2011 3:07 a.m.

    "...I'm going to try and choose my words carefully... This is the worst thing that's ever existed." I laughed so hard I couldn't breath.
  • mothbanquet - June 27, 2011 5:28 p.m.

    Chris, that was a great article. You've confirmed what we've all known/feared for a while now and you didn't mince words. Score one for gaemz jarnalistic int3grity.
  • Azralph13 - June 24, 2011 5:46 p.m.

    Hardcore gamer-"MWWWWAAAAAHHHH baby want big game, baby not like Kinect" Microsoft-"Kinect isnt really for you mate, its optional in all our adult games" Hardcore gamer-WAAAAA! stop making games for kids, im more important, baby jealous!!" Microsoft-"We still have Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls, Battlefield 3, LA Noire, GTA V, Gears of war,Halo and call of duty...we spent a lot of money getting those exclusive maps you know! We have loads of stuff for you! Hardcore Gamer-"But I like to feel more important! If kids can play the same console I can it means I feel less Hardcore.I hate Disneyland Kinect!!" Microsoft_"Why are you mocking kids games? do you spend all day making fun of Teletubbies, these games are for kids" Hardcore Gamer-"Screw you! we buy your games!! That means we own you!!" Microsoft-"It doesn't work like that.Anyway, just think where this technology will be in 10years, now we have put the research in." Hardcoregamer-"Fuck you!! Im entitled!! Do what i say!! Mwwwahh!!" Microsoft-"Why the hell do you we try and please these people!"
  • Xtapolapopotamus - June 23, 2011 5:35 p.m.

    God dammit, Chris. As an aspiring gamz jarnalologist, seeing your writing makes me wanna punch myself in the dick. Your writing is fantastic, always entertaining and damn good at getting a point across. I love that you were chosen to do this Kinect stuff, since you convey passive-aggressiveness so well in your writing. Dammit. Fucking awesome article.
  • Crabhand - June 23, 2011 7:43 a.m.

    I'm all for Chris looking ridiculous, but watching him flail around for the Kinect demos was painful to watch. You deserve a raise for what you had to go through :(
  • MercurialForce - June 23, 2011 3:13 a.m.

    More reasons why I don't plan on buying motion controlled things until we can make a Holodeck.
  • FunnyNameHere - June 23, 2011 2:59 a.m.

    poor Chris
  • Fiirestorm21 - June 23, 2011 2:21 a.m.

    Amen, GamesRadar.
  • peachguy - June 22, 2011 10:54 p.m.

    hilarious article. who would spend money on this crap? DO THE DUMBASS
  • Manguy17 - June 22, 2011 10:52 p.m.

    "if somone gets tired and jumps off to grab a beer" beer? BEER!? NOT FAMILY FREINDLY!!!!!
  • foxyexplosion - June 22, 2011 10:29 p.m.

    boy do these look bad, unsurprising! Just a thought, but it would be cool if you got a peripheral with star wars (which goes against kinect arbitrary branding I know) that had a dpad or some better, coherent way to work the guy. Wait, maybe just a controller would help a lot more. yep, nothing to see here.
  • Camberf - June 22, 2011 10:12 p.m.

  • CancerMan - June 22, 2011 9:54 p.m.

    Most of these look horrible, but I still like the technology somehow.
  • Letter11 - June 22, 2011 9:53 p.m.

    I don't have a Kinect but I've played enough of Dance Central to know it's a great game and I expect the sequel will be too. But man, Kinect Star Wars looks so broken... "I’m going to try and choose my words carefully… This is the worst thing that’s ever existed." Hilarious man, you looked so funny flailing you arms in vain. I think Fun Labs is a cool idea but it's sad that they need to create these tools hoping desperately that more developers will come on board the Kinect wagon. It seems they would be satisfied even if developers would just "throw in" some Kinect features. Somehow so many people own these things with really limited amounts quality software in sight.
  • PimplesInYourAsstista - June 22, 2011 9:37 p.m.

    Chris, I think you're forgetting the very, very unique ways Kinect is going to let you interact with advertisements. In light of that, Kinect is totally not a pathetic, glorified Eyetoy.
  • joedix88 - June 23, 2011 8:25 a.m.

    Is it me or is everyone tempted to scan their penis in that Build A Buddy thing. :P
  • Anderstmnt - June 23, 2011 4:14 a.m.

    I hate Kinect, I hate Microsoft, they took Rare Ware away from me, I was looking forward to Kameo 2, the Next Banjo game & the next Conker game, but nope, stupid Kinect was invented, I was planing on keeping my Xbox360, but nope, Kinect came & I said "goodbye Xbox, I know I will not need you anymore, I don't care about Halo or Gears anymore, because it's not worth going through this.", I am honestly heart-broken.
  • Darkhawk - June 23, 2011 2:44 a.m.

    You know what? Why don't we just call Lucasarts out for what they are: LAZY. What used to be a developer known for some of the best and most original titles now rests on the laurels of a few licenses and doesn't try anything new. Motion-controlled sword swinging (and force push, for that matter!) have already been proven in the excellent Red Steel 2. There's no excuse for their not to be a Star Wars equivalent. Hell, just get Ubisoft to re-skin RS2 and I'd be happy.
  • Yeager1122 - June 23, 2011 2:36 a.m.

    Looks so crappy and yet every kid still wants one just heard somee kid talking about how they want this more than a wii.
  • SideOfBeef - June 23, 2011 2:30 a.m.

    Hearts for the article in general, but isn't it kind of contradictory to say you'll never need to go to another Kinect demo, then say you think Kinect has potential that just isn't being exploited at the moment?