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Child of Eden – hands-on with Kinect controls

We just played Child of Eden at today's Ubisoft Kinect event in San Francisco, and although the room was noisy and we couldn't hear the (assumedly) beautifully hypnotic music as well as we would have liked, we did get a good feel for the Kinect controls.

Not surprisingly, the visuals were the highlight of the demo, and Child of Eden definitely feels like a gorgeous HD sequel to its predecessor, Rez. Part of the appeal of Child of Eden is its abstractness, and it was even fun to watch before we knew exactly what was going on controls-wise. It looks complicated at first, but it's really quite simple.

If you've played Rez, Child of Eden's concept is the same. At heart, it's a shooter where you basically shoot everything that moves. You have only two weapons, which you toggle by clapping once, and a big part of the game is about using the appropriate gun at the appropriate time. The first is a lock-on missile that can target up to eight objects at a time, where you wave your hand so that the circular reticle passes over the objects you want to target and then you push your hand forward to send out missiles to destroy everything. Then there's the continuous rapid fire gun, which does less damage than the targeting missiles but doesn't require an additional hand movement to fire. You also have happy bombs at your disposal – raise both hands in the air to detonate a bomb that clears all enemies from the screen.

Our favorite part of our short play session was an area where a giant satellite-like object spun around the screen that looked like a 3D Peggle board. For every orange tile we hit on the object, a tiny fragment of the audio would fill in, piecing together the whole song eventually. It reminded us of another thing that made Rez so special – the fusion of audio and visual and interplay between the two senses is mesmerizing. That part of the stage in particular made uswish were we in aquiet, dark room for full immersion effect, instead of at abustling press event.

The demo we played was a very early build of the game, with absolutely no HUD or tutorial (it would have been difficult to figure out the controls if we didn't have a Ubisoft rep to explain it), and we're told that the controls are still a work in progress. That said, we weren't too thrilled with the Kinect motion controls. It didn't feel like our hand movements were being properly tracked most of the time, and getting the reticle to move where we wanted was often somewhat difficult. At any rate, when the game launches next spring (2011) it will have an option to use a regular controller, and by that time we hope the motion controls will have been smoothed out too.

Oct 5, 2010

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