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

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.

Giventhe 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 theconference 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 theunlucky passer-byhe 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 fitnessprogram 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 controlcould 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 360maul 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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David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.