Why is it that game companies want to force me into moving around like an idiot in front of my TV to play my games? When I want to move around I tend to do something constructive, like baking, exercising or running away from spiders.
Going completely controller-free is not in my future, no matter how hard some companies might be trying to steer us in that direction. Part of being a gamer is memorizing button combos and having something in your hands you could almost throw at your TV. The controller is a natural extension of who and what we are.
At first I thought that we were set with the ridiculousness of the Wii. A controller shaped like a remote, waving our arms around, starving for real games and then watching as the great games sold horribly while the shovelware flew off store shelves. The Wii quickly became a hot item for the casual and new gamer demographics, with slews of four player sporting games leading the way. Nintendo also brought out some games for their core gamers, however the wait time in between those games turned a lot of those original purchases into dust collecting machines.
At E3 2010, Microsoft and Sony showcased their new motion control line up for the coming Holiday season. I was not at E3, so my opinions below do not contain any hands-on experience, but I believe there are other gamers who share in my hesitance to have another console turn into another fitness program.
Xbox Kinect (aka-Project Natal)
After everything I have seen and read post-E3, Kinect looks to be a large disappointment for its core gamers. Microsoft’s desire to convert more casual gamers to the system is all fine and good, but it’s a major slap in the face to the long term supporters. Not adding optional support for console selling franchises such as Halo and Gears of War doesn’t entice those hardcore FPS and action adventure gamers to run out and drop the $150 on a fancy motorized camera.
Being completely upfront with my readers, I strongly favour my Xbox 360 over my PS3 or the household Wii. I have spent thousands of dollars on retail and DLC games, I pay for a Gold subscription so that I can play online with my friends. I am not against purchasing accessories and games for a console if I believe that I am going to have a great gaming experience. Kinect’s high price tag and a launch line up of completely casual games that remind me of all the shovelware titles that we’ve previously seen on the Wii make me want to keep that $150 in my pocket. And not including any games (as of now) in that package leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.
The only impressive game that I saw for Kinect was Dance Central, which I’m sure will be a hit with people who want to dance. Me, not so much. From everything I’ve read about it and impressions of people I know who were able to try it out, Dance Central is fun and challenging and worked well with the Kinect camera.
If Kinect remains a tool used only for casual and family games, it will inevitably fail. As much as they believe their hardcore gamers will be buying this on day one, I think that they will be shocked when that does not happen. I don’t know too many people who want to wave their hands around or use voice commands to play movies. Voice commands are fine if you’re the only person in the room, but what happens when you are having a party and everyone is talking? Who’s voice will the system respond to? How will it be able to differentiate amongst everyone in the room and pick out only your voice? And if someone walks behind you while you are playing, how can the Xbox be certain that person is just walking by and not mistake their actions as someone else trying to sign in? These are just a few questions I have not found the answers to, and we probably won’t until much closer to the November launch.
They talk a big game on how Kinect will be something their core gamers will embrace, yet I fail to see anything that makes me feel the need to run out and pre-order this today. We’ll see how things change as we come closer to the Holiday 2010 launch of Kinect and what Microsoft does to counteract a potential loss of sales to the Playstation Move.
Instead of going completely controller free, Sony’s Move is a lot like the Wii – two unique controller pieces working together with the Eye (camera) to bring the player a new sense of involvement with their Playstation gaming. So while you can choose to play games swinging your arms around, you’ll at least look as though you’re actually doing something.
The key difference between Kinect and Move is that Sony is ensuring it’s motion controllers will resonate with the potential new and casual gamer markets as well as their core gamers. They are bringing a solid mix of family, casual and hardcore games to the PS3 that will make use, if you so choose, of the Move controllers. Killzone 3 and the newest SOCOM title will both offer DualShock 3 and Move support, giving their core gamers a perfect reason to invest in Move. It’s nice to be able to play with your family every once in a while, but there are times when you want to play online with your buddies, and pretending to look down the scope of a sniper rifle is more fun with a controller than it is just pointing your finger at a screen.
Another bonus with Move is that Sony has announced that their Move line-up will be retailing for $39.99 per title (this does not include other titles that support Move controls such as Killzone 3, etc). Smarter still is their introduction Move bundle for people who would like to be up and running with a game. Granted, it is the standard sports collection, but it is better than getting a peripheral without any software.
While games like Invizimals and the sports collection are not titles I would spend my money on, Sony will be bringing out some action adventure titles such as Heroes on the Move and the Sly Cooper Collection which has a lot of the core gamers talking. These are the kinds of games that Microsoft is missing from it’s launch line up – games that do more than have you swat flies from the screen or run on the spot. Sony already made those types of games for the PS2 when they released the EyeToy.
My only concern with Move is that I might experience the same stiffness/soreness in my wrist that I get when playing a Wii game for more than 20 minutes. Holding a traditional style controller is much more natural position. While I may not play a Move title for an extended period of time, they are bringing some excellent titles to the system that I am sure will have me using my PS3 more often than I do now.
I’d love to hear any thoughts or concerns that any readers of this post might have. Objective thoughts only, please!