I have Purple Jazz Hands, read on and you'll find out why.
PS3 Move well, that's again...like the Wiimote but a lot better. This isn't really about what is the best motion control, or if the Wii, PS3 and 360 are better than each other. This is about the functionality and fun-factor of Microsoft's new bit of kit, the Kinect.
Project Natal as it was once called...
The Kinect is pretty dinky compared to what I originally expected, I bought mine on release day and after a couple of minutes reading the instructions I got it set up pretty quickly. I mounted it on the wall about 6.5 feet above ground level, above the TV. We have a smaller room and the gamespace is around 6-8 feet optimally, it likes a bigger room obviously.
Lighting is also an important factor, it does a good job recognising you most of the time, but in different lighting conditions it might have some trouble auto-signing you into the Kinect ID. Ideally it likes a bright room with no conflicting light sources, so you may have to draw the blinds or curtains and so on to get the best performance.
Once you're all setup and booted in, you download a small update and you're away. The hardware is good, it's really quite good. I was impressed at the voice recognition and the ease of use in that regard. You can speak simple phrases like 'Xbox' and it will take you to another menu, usually showing you what you can say next, like 'Kinect' which boots you into the Kinect Hub, where you can access all the usual features, Zune and so on. I will note that voice recognition isn't tied to one voice, so anyone can control the Kinect as long as only one person is speaking at a time. With a gabble of voices, you will be hard-pressed to get the device to hear you.
Also, the Kinect can replace your headset and the mic is extremely sensitive, picking up anyone in the room. So if you love to trash talk on Call of Duty...it will not only pick you up, but the snickers of your friends as well.
You can also download Video Kinect and that allows you to do a video chat with your other Kinect owning friends, as long as they've done the same. We tried that feature out for an hour or so and it was surprisingly good. The quality was great and the voice came through clearly. The Kinect camera pans around between various people if they are recognised, and it will also pan and zoom based on the number of people in the room.
It always tries to keep you in frame; this is mildly disturbing so we called ours: HAL.
When it comes to motion sensing, the unit is pretty accurate in the right lighting conditions. There's no noticeable lag between your hand movements and the hand icon on the screen. The control is simple and the device always tells you what you need to do. Performing the Kinect Hub/Guide gesture is a simple matter of holding your left arm with hand down out just under a 45 degree angle until the icon fills up.
The same for direct control, you move your hand(s) and the hand icon follows, you can then hover over and select by holding your hand in place. You get a small camera image of you in the lower right, with white hands or purple if you're signed in. We have called this effect: Purple Jazz Hands.
Other people can move into the space and the machine will attempt to recognise them, if you move out of the gamespace, it will decide that you're done for now and until you move back in, it will allow the new person to control the hardware. This way it's easy to swap players in a game that you want to play with more than one person.
Unless you have the room of course, then you can play with 2 people with no problems. It needs about 10 feet of space for that, pretty much in all four cardinal directions. There is some leeway and the sensor can be fine tuned and calibrated to the available space.
Motion control was excellent and the non-gamer remarked how well the Kinect picked up their movements, the device also requires that you remove loose and baggy clothing since it doesn't really recognise a formless shape very well. It is also not wise to play naked...unless you have no shame (we did not try this) because the Kinect camera takes pictures of your performance in Kinect Adventures and saves them to the file share. You can choose to upload them, but they are not uploaded automatically.
Yes, we did hear about the guy on the net who did play Kinect naked. We laughed hard about that one.
Next week we'll be taking a look at Kinectimals, Dance Central and Your Shape: Fitness Evolved.
The bottom line is that the unit functions very well, it is worth the money and the motion control isn't just a gimmick. I can't wait to see what happens when regular games are packed with Kinect features, so that we have menu control, sword combat (or lightsaber combat) and so on built in. I am pretty excited for the new age of motion control and so far, the Kinect is some of the best motion sensing technology I've had the pleasure of playing with.