I watched the entirety of Microsoft’s press conference yesterday and I came away with two immediate thoughts:
- They really want me to buy a Kinect.
- They think I will buy a Kinect if they add gimmicky features to regular games.
I am a very early adopter of the Wii—my boyfriend and I managed to pretty easily snag one at the Nintendo Store about two weeks after the system came out—and as such have lived through my share of silly gimmicks in games but the Kinect controls that Microsoft were showing off were honestly laughable. I know that it sounds cool to not use a controller to play Ghost Recon but that’s only if you don’t actually think about what you are doing in the game. How is doing jazz hands preferable to aiming with an analog stick and shooting with a trigger button in a game where you are shooting guns at people?
I mean really, the rail shooters and FPS games I have played on the Wii are successful because of the aim+shoot interaction with the TV using the Wiimnote. It feels very natural, as you are going through a similar action as what’s happening on screen. Once you have your target you pull the B trigger on the remote and bam, shots are fired. It allowed for very precise aiming in Resident Evil 4 which made me happy because I enjoy shooting people in the knees and head. I assume these games play similarly using Sony’s Move device but I have no interest in shelling out for one.
Microsoft wanted the Kinect to stand out and do more and different from the Move and Wii, which is understandable. However by choosing to go in a controllerless direction they sort of limited how much it can be integrated into what we think of as normal games in a useful manner. That did not stop them from shoehorning it into every game they showed.
Ghost Recon gunsmith? Neat, not at all essential. Ghost Recon shooting? No thanks.
Or hey you can play the next Fable and pretend to be controlling the reins of a horse! Or do the conga to charge up a spell! JAZZ HANDS!
The gimmick party didn’t stop after this, we got treated to what felt like ten hours of a demo of the voice commands Kinect offers followed by a run through of the kids games made by Disney. That, at least, I can understand because of the need to show off tech and games for kids are what they are. On the other hand it was tremendously terrible to sit through watching some creepy actor kids pretend to have fun and scream out every action they were about to do while playing a level of some Disney game.
I am actually pretty shocked that after the reception this press conference got from pretty much everyone I know that nobody in the media that I watched afterwards just said “It was bad. Bad times.” Instead they tiptoed around it and made excuses for Microsoft. It was very confusing.
This was the worst, most unfun big presser I’ve seen at E3 in quite some time. Boring is one thing but Microsoft just made my head hurt this year. And, probably more importantly to them, completely failed in their mission to make me want to buy a Kinect. Not that I can use one in my living room anyway.