Tagged "Kinect"

Aug 09
By Matt Gander In Most Played 2 Comments

I didn’t get my first taste of Kinect until a couple of months ago. A friend asked me to sell his on eBay along with Kinect Adventures and Kinect Sports. What type of friend would I be if I didn’t give it a good test to see if it’s fully working beforehand? Not a very good one is the answer. I at least had to check that the achievements unlocked. And so I spent an entertaining afternoon messing around with Adventures – which is a clear cut above most mini-game collections – and sampling the sports in Kinect Sports. Apart from the football – sorry, soccer – game which doesn’t flow too well, it’s a really nice package. Even the volleyball game is pretty good.

It wasn’t until the arrival of Child of Eden that I decided to purchase my own Kinect. The price of Kinect games has taken a tumble over the past few months – I was able to get the device with Kinect Adventures and Carnival Games: In Action for £100, and then picked up Kinectimals for £12.99 and Get Fit with Mel B for four measly quid.

Kinectimals really struck a chord with me. Considering it was a Kinect launch title it’s incredibly polished with visuals that aren’t far off from CGI. Whereas most virtual pet games become dull as soon as you’ve catered to your pet’s needs, here there is always something new to do or see to keep your interest levels up. Selecting a toy out of the toy box makes a random challenge instantly appear on screen – bring a ball out and a coconut shy or target range will spawn out of nowhere. There’s no penalty for failing these challenges but beating them awards adventure points that are used to unlock new areas of the map, and ergo progresses the story which involves pirates and treasure. You can also pester your pet with RC cars, some of which are based on vehicles from Halo. It really is a lovely and charming game full of nice touches.

From petting to prancing. I won’t spend too much time talking about Get Fit with Mel B because I assume it was cut to £4 due to a lack of popularity. It isn’t bad though – you appear on the screen in a fuzzy digitised form, standing next to Mel herself. The idea is to copy what she does and then you’re shown how well you did in the form of a percentage. There are warm up and cool down exercises and you can choose what your goals are – like losing fat off your gut, or generally having more stamina. It certainly works – I sweated in places I didn’t even know produced sweat.

Then we have Carnival Games: In Action. Or Carn-evil Games as it should be known. I don’t think I’ve ever detested a game so much. Two hours was all it took to play each mini-game three or four times and unlock a majority of the achievements. After those two hours I wouldn’t have returned to this game even if you paid me. Just about every mini-game irritates and most boil down to pure luck – I played hoopla about 20 times and only twice did the hoop go over the pole. Then there’s a roller coaster mini-game where you have to put your hands out to collect stars and avoid bad things but because the coaster is full of dips and turns you can’t see what’s coming. It took me five attempts to get a score that wasn’t in minus figures.

Barker the ringmaster – the chap in the bowler hat – taunts you with wisecracks throughout, making this even more of a thoroughly teeth gratingly bad experience. Fair play to the developers for not lazily converting the Wii version, I suppose, but the only good thing about it I found was that I was able to trade it in for something else.

Jul 15
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

It would be impossible for us to review Kinect Fun Labs – it’s merely a hub to download gadgets (as Microsoft call them) for Kinect. And it would be impossible for us to review those gadgets too, as the four available in no way resemble a conventional game. They do though, rather oddly, have achievements to unlock.

You have to wonder if Kinect Googly Eyes is a joke in Rare’s direction – back in the N64 era they went through a phase of sticking eyes on something and passing it off as a new character. Conker’s Bad Fur Day was the worst for this – just about everything had eyes on and talked, from paint pots to pitch forks. Presentation on this gadget is rather pleasing – a jaunty musical score plays in the background complete with some amusing lyrics. All it boils down to though is holding an object in front of the Kinect for it to photograph, and then deciding on the placement of a pair of googly eyes. You can then jump around to animate your new creation and, as per the other available gadgets, post videos and photos for friends to view.

Bobble Head is similarly shallow. Here your face is scanned and pasted onto a bobble head on a car dashboard. You can choose different costumes and stuff, but because you’re given a shaven head every time, the end product never really resembles yourself. It speaks volumes that the best bit is being able to slap yourself around the face.

It’s not all gloom, fortunately – Build A Buddy is mildly amusing and nicely presented. Much like Kinect Googly Eyes, after holding something up to the camera it then comes alive via some technical jiggery pokery. I grabbed the nearest thing (a sofa cushion) and after a few seconds it was bouncing around on my TV like a mad thing. You’re able to choose a personality and record a few speech samples in order to give it commands to perform tricks. Out of the four gadgets currently available this is the one I spent the most time with, changing the personalities for each new creation to witness the results.

Then we have the fashion show gadget Kinect Me. After spreading your arms and legs out a photo is taken and used to create a 3D avatar. You can then select backdrops and pull off poses for photos and stuff. Like Bobble Head there’s no way to choose a hairstyle (other than a pony tail) so don’t expect to see a mirror image of yourself inside your telebox.

If developers can get some simple but addictive games on here then Kinect Fun Labs could be an essential download for Kinect owners. Sadly, the fact that the next gadget due out is the self-explanatory Kinect Sparklers doesn’t really fill us with confidence for the future.

Jul 05
By Matt Gander In Reviews 8 Comments

Well, you certainly can’t say that Child of Eden has a clichéd plot. Lumi, the ever first human child to be born on a space station, is being digitally reconstructed by a future generation in an attempt to view her memories. But she’s under attack by a virus, which must be destroyed to allow access to said memories. As you make your way through the jumbled mess of her mind you get to witness the big bang, mankind’s evolution from single-cell organisms, the development of technology and more in an incredibly abstract fashion. People would probably pay good money to walk around a gallery filled with screenshots taken from this game, given the artistic flare and direction.

To say that this rather tuneful on-rails shooter is ‘just like Rez’ would be a very lazy notion. Not just because not everybody reading this will have played Sega’s trippy shooter, but because the differences between the two are vast. Rez was viewed from the third person, featuring a character drawn in vector graphics at the bottom of the screen, whereas this is first person with just a plainly drawn targeting reticle under your control.

This time round creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi has thought to include two different weapons as well, in addition to a ‘smart bomb’. The lock-on laser is essential for building score multipliers and can be locked on to ten enemies at a time, while the purple fire-tracer laser takes down projectiles instantaneously and destroys purple-hued enemies quickly. Every projectile is purple in colour, thus making them very easy to detect, while an extra ring also appears over your target reticle to warn of any incoming fire.

When playing with Kinect the right hand fires the lock-on laser while the left hand fires the tracker. It’s just as playable with a joypad as it is with Kinect, so don’t worry if you haven’t shelled out for Microsoft’s delightful device yet. It is though slightly easier to get the achievements with Kinect as the target scores for each level are slightly lower. That’s thoughtful of the developers, that is.

In terms of content and structure it’s very similar to a light-gun game – there are five levels each taking around 10-12 minutes to finish and offering a hell of a lot of replay value. The first three levels unlock quite quickly but then you have to replay them several times to have enough points unlock the final two. Attack patterns need to be memorised in order to achieve an elusive 100 percent ‘purified’ rating, and boy does it feel like a huge accomplishment when you do so. Every time you finish a level there’s a chance to pick a new item for Yumi’s garden too, giving an incentive to play previously completed levels.

The third level, titled Passion, has to be the graphical highlight. It charts the history of technology starting off with what appears to be the industrial revolution, featuring a world made of cogs and gears, before progressing to a vast cityscape with countless skyscrapers.

The last level is the only real disappointment – it’s a slow and tedious boss rush level, ending with a battle that requires some incredibly accurate shooting skills. After being treated to such imaginative sights and sounds, to end on a low note like this is a bit of a shame. Fortunately the surprise inclusion an unlockable challenge mode with an arcade-like vibe goes some way to compensating for this.

Although undeniably a treat for both the ears and eyes, this isn’t a game for all and sundry. Fans of Sega’s Rez will no doubt be in their element – this being the unofficial sequel and all – but the fact you have to replay the same linear five levels over and over again to get your money’s worth may seem alien to some.

It’s not hard to imagine some gamers feeling a bit miffed by the omission of checkpoints either – if you’re killed by an end-of-level boss you’re thrown back to the menu screen and have to start from scratch.

Those that can live with Child of Eden’s way of doing things though will find it to be the most memorable gaming experience in a very long time.

Jun 20
By Matt Gander In UK Charts 10 Comments

With more negative reviews of Duke Nukem Forever appearing (EDGE’s 3/10 is one of the latest), 2K’s shoddy shooter has lost the top spot of the chart. But not to Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D as you may expect but rather Zumba Fitness.

Link rides in at a respectable #2 with 20% of all current 3DS owners making a purchase. Nintendo only has themselves to blame for it not being #1 – they started the whole fitness game trend with Wii Fit back in 2008. Well, that and the fact that Zumba is absurdly popular.

At #9 there’s another new entry in the form of Square-Enix’s Dungeon Siege III. It’s not the PC version that’s been shifting loads, which is odd given the series’ heritage, but rather the Xbox 360 version that has charted the highest. It should be pointed out though that the chart doesn’t include all PC downloads. Despite what we said last week, it would appear that it’s actually worth a look – the average score on Metacritic is currently 75%. Sorry about that, Square-Enix.

Also charting surprisingly highly is Alice: Madness Returns at #12. For a new IP with not that much promotion and a few mediocre reviews behind it that’s not bad going.

But we are going to have to end this week’s UK chart round up on a duff note – Child of Eden has only managed to get to #25. With Kinect sales still strong we could see it rise up next week. Even if it doesn’t, it’s bound to re-enter once the belated PlayStation 3 version is released in a couple of months.

Jun 06
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

“There’s plenty of life left in the Xbox 360” said Microsoft last week. What they forgot to add is that you’re going to need a Kinect to squeeze that extra milage out of it. Just about every game shown during their E3 conference uses the device in someway from head-tracking in Forza Motorsport 4 (queue impending whiplash claims) to voice controls in EA’s Mass Effect 3. “Wrex, I choose you!”

EA also confirmed that Madden, FIFA, Tiger Woods and The Sims 3: Pets will feature Kinect support. Broken lamp-shades and jealous pooches ahoy.

But let’s rewind first. Microsoft’s day kicked off with the release of a new Kinect Star Wars trailer. When shown at last year’s E3 it took the form of an unconvincing pre-rendered video that failed to impress. One year later and, well, not much has changed. The trailer shows a range of mini-games including pod racing, rancor stomping and third person adventure sections that bare a worrying resemblance to Star Wars: Obi Wan on the original Xbox. Unless those pod races feature different tracks and leagues to play through it looks like it’s going to be a very shallow package indeed.

Microsoft then dropped a clanger by leaking news of Halo 4 roughly two hours before the conference began. This news came from their own Xbox.com site, believe it or not. Halo 4 was supposed to be their big finale for their E3 conference but the leak soon put a damper on that. But worry not – there were a few surprises on show. And a few unintentionally amusing moments too.

The conference started with demos of two multi-format releases – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Tomb Raider. The first saw a group of soldiers undertaking an underwater mission – which came to an abrupt standstill when a ‘Please reconnect controller’ message appeared on the screen – while Lara’s latest managed to impress with some Uncharted 2-style vistas and an unexpected hint of survival horror. It looks fantastic, but it’s not out until Fall 2012. Modern Warfare 3 has been dated as 9th November though and according to Microsoft “all Call of Duty downloadable content will be available first on Xbox 360.”

Mass Effect 3 and Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier were then shown. The crowd cheered when Mass Effect’s Shepard pulled out a sword during the demo which also showed off the voice command system. It’s down for release on 9th March 2012. A collector’s edition will also be available containing a Dark Horse comic book, hardcover art book, soundtrack CD, lithograph, N7 patch and four exclusive guns. Likewise, Ghost Recon Future Soldier has Kinect support in the form of voice commands, body tracking and Minority Report-style menus that let you customise your own weapons. “All future titles in the Tom Clancy franchise will leverage Kinect,” says Ubisoft’s Yves Guillemot.

Next, Microsoft showed off their continuing efforts to turn the Xbox 360 into an entertainment hub. YouTube is on its way and a new voice controlled Bing search service will help you look for items on the marketplace quickly. For instance, saying “Bing X-Men” will bring up a list of X-Men films, games and themes to download. Microsoft’s demonstrator pronounced Lego as ‘Lay go’, much to the amusement of those following the conference live on Twitter. “You guys aren’t going to let this lay go, are you?” we said.

Ice T then came on stage and had a go on Gears of War 3 with Cliff Bleszinski in co-op. Another mispronunciation occurred when Ice T seemingly chose to rename ‘horde mode’ to ‘whore mode’. Crytek’s Roman Kinect hack and slash Ryse was then shown followed by the heavily rumoured Halo 1 remake. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, as it’s called, is going to be a boxed retail release and not a download as some may have first thought. Online co-op play is the focus with seven multi-player maps promised. The trailer for Halo 4 meanwhile was merely a teaser but it’s the start of a new trilogy, which effectively confirms Halo 5 and Halo 6. Master Chief and Cortana are both back, but not until 2012. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is out this year though. In November, to be precise.

Forza Motorsport 4 footage looks very impressive with 16 cars on a track at once. Power by Kanye West played over the top of the video. Incidentally, THQ used the same track for their Saints Row 3 trailer.

Those that thought Fable 3 lacked visual finesse can rejoice – Fable: The Journey is powered by the Unreal 3 engine. The demo showed the Kinect being used to whip the reigns of a horse and then cast spells from a first person perspective. It’s out 2012.

From epic quests to indie games – Minecraft is coming to Xbox 360 this winter. Again, Kinect is the method of control. I really hope that you can still use a joypad.

You might not give a Donald Duck about Kinect Disneyland Adventures or Tim Schafer’s Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster but a small person in your life might do. Kinect Disneyland Adventures is being developed by Frontier. A Peter Pan flying game and an Alice in Wonderland croquet “sim” were demonstrated by two children who gave one another a fist bump after playing it. After the show they were taken back to their orphanage by a limo.

Rounding off the conference was Dance Central 2, Kinect Fun Lab (which will be a portal to homebrew content) and Kinect Sports Season 2 which is being co-developed between Rare and the guys behind Kinect Joy Ride. This time American football, baseball, darts, golf, tennis and skiing will feature. Why? Because apparently these are the sports you asked for.

Indeed, the conference did feature a few too many sequels and updates but with innovation thriving on Xbox Live Arcade – with such games The Gunstringer, Bastion, Toy Soldiers: Cold War and Kinect Fruit Ninja due – as there’s no need to feel disheartened by the lack of new IP.

Dec 27
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Metacritic’s worst 10 games of 2010 has worked out pretty evenly between formats – there are a couple of Kinect titles, a few multi-format jobbies and one each on the list for PlayStation Move, WiiWare and PSN. As you may have predicted, a few of these are movie tie-ins. Some things never change.

Did you play any of the stinkers below? Or were you even stupid enough buy any? If the answer is yes to either (or both) then you have our pity. If you purchased any more than two on the list though, then you don’t get our pity at all – you’re a bloody idiot that should read sites like Metracritic and GameRankings more.

For the purposes of review Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (EA, 38%) is one that I played all the way through to the end. I always thought that the Harry Potter games were getting better over the years, but this one is the worst of the bunch. Yes – even worse than Quiddich World Cup. Around half of the missions take place in small arenas where Harry simply has to defend himself for 10 minutes or so. If that’s not a sign that the developers couldn’t be bothered with it, then I don’t know what is.

EA are also responsible for #9 on Metacritic’s list – the download only Dead Space Ignition (EA, 38%). Just by looking at the laughably poor artwork you can tell that this was a rushed out to drum up some extra press coverage for Dead Space 2. “When your game makes you want to skip the egregiously tedious gameplay so you can see what happens in the utterly forgettable story, you know you’re doing something wrong”, said Cheat Code Central.

Pure Football (Ubisoft, 38%), or Pure Futbol as it’s known in some parts of the world, slides in at #7. Ubisoft must be pretty ashamed of this one as even though it was only released in May, the official website has already been taken down. See?

With a lead character that looks like he could be part of the Gears of War trilogy, I’m sure that Quantum Theory (Tecmo, 37%) was purchased by a few misguided souls. A quote from Destructoid’s review sums it up nicely: Quantum Theory is what would happen if Gears of War and Super Mario Bros. had a baby. A mewling, deformed, horrific baby that doctors would try to drown.”

We now have our first game on the list that requires you to wave your limbs around to play – Sony’s Kung Fu Rider (37%, SCEA). Despite a quirky premises, many reviewers suggested it would have worked better with a joypad rather than the PlayStation Move. Oh, Sony!

The 5th game on the list is a curious one – Power Gig: Rise of the SixString (34%, Seven45 Studios) was only released in the US and it came with a real guitar. That’s ‘real’ as in it had strings, unlike the Rock Band and Guitar Hero guitars. Because it was so cheaply made though the sound it made when being played was rather painful on the ears.

You can tell PlayStation-exclusive Kick Ass (33%, WHA Entertainment) was a rush-job as they recently released a patch that included all the stuff they wanted the game to feature when it was first released. Most reviewers found it to be frustrating and repetitive, with a high price point that didn’t help matters either. Kick Ass? More like Stinks of Ass.

The 3th worst game of the year is the Kinect-only Fighters Uncaged (32%, Ubisoft), but believe it or not there’s another Kinect game out there that scored worse than this shoddy brawler and that’s Deca Sports Freedom (27%, Hudson Entertainment). The only good thing that Games Radar could say about it is that “You might be able to trade it in”.

And so we’re left with the worst game of the year. What could be worse than the assortment of titles above? The answer is Bloons for WiiWare. “Bloons is an exciting puzzle game based on the simple fact that popping balloons is fun,” says the developer. That may be so, but only if the controls worked. Which they didn’t. There are a couple of other WiiWare titles low down on Metacritic’s list too – namely, Kung Fu Funk: Everybody is Kung Fu Fighting! and 5 Arcade Gems – suggesting that it’s certainly a good thing that Nintendo has now allows demos of WiiWare games.

Nov 22
By Matt Gander In UK Charts 3 Comments

UK Charts

Despite the very fine Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit being released last week, Call of Duty: Black Ops has held onto #1. They have to make do with #2 and #3 respectively. Wii Sports Resort has risen from #19 to #7 but Fallout: New Vegas has fallen from #7 to #13. Football Manager 2011 goes from #5 to #19.

The jolly decent Sonic Colours has had a better second week – it was at a lowly #36 but it’s now at #18. This might be because Play had it for £17.99 last week. The bad reviews have seemingly harmed Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows as it can only manage a #20 positioning.

GoldenEye 007 is still outselling 007: Blood Stone but neither are doing fantastically – the celebrated Wii shooter is at #29 while Bizarre Creations’ effort is at #38.

If you’re wondering how the Kinect games are doing, then wonder no more – Kinect Sports is at #9, Dance Central at #25, Motion Sports at #33 and Fighters Uncaged at #39.

Nov 15
By Matt Gander In UK Charts 1 Comment

UK Charts

There’s no prize for guessing what’s #1 this week. 2m copies were sold in the UK over 5 days, generating an estimated £81.9m. The Xbox 360 version of Call of Duty: Black Ops sold the most copies with 55% of the share, while the PS3 version gained 42%. This means that the Wii, DS and PC versions only took 3% between them. This is a little surprising – first person shooters usually sell quite well on PC, especially if they give the chance for a PC owner to show off their stupidly expensive graphics card.

Last week’s #1 – Football Manager 2011 – is now at #5.

Kinect hasn’t done too badly either with plenty of the launch games scattered around the chart. However, Kinect Adventures hasn’t been included in the top 40 as it was bundled with the device. Rare’s Kinect Sports did the best at #4, followed by Dance Central at #13, Motion Sports at #15, Fighters Uncaged at #23, Kinectimals at #26, Kinect Joy Ride at #30, Your Shape at #33 and Sonic Free Riders at #38.

Sonic Colours hasn’t fared that much better – it’s at #36.

Both Bonds are slipping – GoldenEye 007 drops from #13 to #20 while 007: Blood Stone has gone from #18 to #22. They may rise back up again though – it’s not hard to imagine a clueless grandparent buying a Bond game for their grandson for Christmas.

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