The Average Gamer

Kinect (Xbox 360) – First Impressions

Now that Weefz and I got to play with Microsoft’s Kinect (previously known as Project Natal) for Xbox 360 courtesy of the Kinect galleries, here’s my summary of our Kinect experience.

Booking and getting there

As I covered in my Kinect galleries post last week, you can book your 30 min Kinect session either via facebook or in person at 4-6 Russell Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7BN. Outside shot of the Kinect Galleries LocationThe location itself is pretty easy to get to as it’s right next to the Covent Garden market. It is also pretty conspicuous too with swathes of Kinect flags adorning the outside of the location. You really can’t miss it. Once we’d been greeted by the friendly Microsoft representative, and I’d entered my name, email address and accepted the terms and conditions (i.e. Microsoft will be filming you and this could be used in a marketing campaign) and given a nice Kinect lanyard (plus unique guest id, which I’ll come onto later) it was off to play Kinect.

Kinect set-up

After wandering down a long(ish) and purple carpeted winding corridor, we arrived at the 3 demo rooms. We had been booked into room 2, which looks exactly like it does in the picture (surprise, surprise!).
I like the way Microsoft decided to build living rooms to show how Kinect will actually work when it’s sitting happily in your own home. Another one of the Kinect galleries Also with Kinect, like the Wii it’s best not to have breakable objects in the immediate vicinity. They will get broken by flailing arms and legs :-)

We were warmly greeted by our Kinect host – Andy – who was there to help us get the most from our 30 mins. All the hosts were really friendly and helpful, and really got into the act of playing Kinect with us.

Playable games

We got to choose from the following games:

During our 30 mins we got to play 3 of these 5 games, missing out only on Kinectimals and Sports.

How much fun?

Kinect is brilliant. I was a lot more impressed with it that I thought I’d be, and it’s really quite knackering to play. First up was Dance Central which Weefz was keen to play. I tried to escape and watch from the sofa, but no such luck. Dance Central can cope with up to 3 players at once, so I ended up being one of the 2 backing dancers. Yay. Whilst Weefz was choosing a song to dance to, I went about trying to confuse the Kinect hardware. I tried giving Weefz extra arms, legs and even bunny ears, but Kinect was having none of it and continued to show 2 person shaped silhouettes on screen. KinectJoyRide-VanOne of which was clearly playing around in the background. Err, I wonder who that was? Hehe. Anyway, then Andy (who likes dancing, as we found out) joined me at the back and we were off. In Dance Central you have to mimic the dancers on screen and the game rates your performance. I was terrible, but I can’t dance. Weefz however, was really good and can :-)

Next up was Kinect: Joyride. We chose the 1 player game, so it was just me. 2 player modes are available if you so choose. In Joyride you drive by sticking your arms out in front of you and steer as you would in a real car. Additionally, if you lean left or right whilst steering your car performs a power slide. Whilst the game was fun, the control of the car did feel a little distant and wooly. Probably the most disappointing of all the games we played, but still fun.

Our final choice was Kinect: Adventures. We decided to have a go at the rafting, ricochet and obstacle course games. KinectAdventures-RicochetAll the games were 2 player which added to the fun as we both bumped into each other a lot whilst playing. Especially during the ricochet game as we tried to hit all the targets by bouncing the balls back off our bodies. There were arms and legs flailing everywhere from both of us. We also got to see some funny snapshots of this taken by one of the Kinect camera during the game that you get to see after you’ve finished playing. I though this feature was a nice addition to the game. The ricochet game was the first time that I’d really noticed the lag between my movements and seeing them replicated on screen. Clearly Microsoft still has some work to do to minimise the lag effect.

Then it was quickly on to the rafting game in which we both had to cooperate to move the raft left and right to navigate between the gates plonked at various points in a river.KinectAdventures-Rafting A river that was both very fast flowing and full of rapids. To get extra hight during the jumps you both had to, well, jump up, but at the same time. It did feel really good when we both jumped at exactly the right time and caught some serious air on one of the jumps. Rafting is going to be a great party game.

Finally, we got to play the 2 player obstacle course game. The aim was to duck, jump, and sidestep around obstacles that come flying towards you whilst on your little platform, on a conveyor belt. If you wanted to go quicker, you just jumped up and down. In reality it was mayhem with Weefz and I jumping, leaning and ducking all the time. I’d would have loved to have seen what we both looked like playing this game. It was lots of fun, and really gets you moving all your body. There’s no playing from the sofa in this game!

It’s getting hot in here…

One thing we did notice pretty quickly is how hot the demo rooms were, and this was before we had even started playing. After 30 mins of fairly intense activity we were both rather overdone. I would hate to be stuck there for the whole day like Andy. The air-conditioning should really have been a bit better. Wear some cool clothing if you are going to visit.

We did grab some free soft drinks after we’d finished playing though. These were gratefully received by some very hot averagegamers! Mmm, tasty Coca-Cola.

Whilst you’re playing Kinect you get recorded by a series of wall mounted video cameras in each of the Kinect galleries rooms. This happens at some point during your 30 minute session with the video being uploaded to website. For Weefz and I it was whilst I was playing the driving game. You can check out the video by entering guest number 44009245 on the site. You are assigned your unique guest number when you turn up and get given your Kinect lanyard (yes, you do get to keep it).

Release date:

Microsoft have finally got round to confirming the UK release date of the 10th Nov 2010. The Kinect sensor will cost £129.99 to by on its own (with Kinect: Adventures included), or £249.99 if you buy the Xbox 360 kinect bundle.


The overriding memories I have of playing all the Kinect games are of having lots of fun. It was also much more tiring than I expected. We were kept pretty active by all the games on show. I can’t wait to try the proper workout games for Kinect. KinectAdventures-ObstacleCourseThey should keep me fit. I think that Kinect is really going to be a hit during parties. No extra controllers to worry about or batteries to keep replacing. I know all my friends are going to love it. We are planning a Kinect evening as soon as we get our hands on it in November. However, Microsoft still need to address the slight movement lag that is noticeable in some of the games. Once that is sorted, hopefully by the November release, Kinect will be totally brilliant. And don’t forget to wear some cool clothing if you are going to visit.

More opinions on Kinect Galleries in London are over at Sarcastic Gamer and Mssv. Are you looking forward to Kinect or do you think it’s a massively over-hyped waste of space? Let us know in the comments.

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