On Tuesday afternoon, Ubisoft had a Kinect preview event where they demoed four upcoming games. I had the chance to stop by and check them out firsthand, as well as playing with the Kinect sensor.
Kinect is cool, but it also has a number of limitations. It is very sensitive to slight movement. In order to make sure everyone stood in the right spot, Ubisoft had tape markers on the floor. If you're not careful, you can easily move out of range, throwing off the game you're playing. In one of the demos I played, your character actually disintegrates if you move out of range of the sensor. People moving around behind you can also be an issue, as the camera will pick them up if they get too close.
With the Wii, you're still using a controller when you're playing a sport, but with the Kinect, it's like you're actually playing the sport because you have to use your entire body. Playing the Kinect games can be kind of tiring, but it's a lot of fun. For a casual player, it's a lot easier to start playing with Kinect than with a traditional controller, but that doesn't mean it's easy to master. Games are still challenging, just in a different way. For example, if you're supposed to be in a certain position in a game, and you stand up because you're tired, your character actually stands up — and that can mess you up.
I didn't get to play for very long, but based on what I saw, I'm certainly looking forward to spending more time with Kinect. It's a completely different experience than just sitting on the couch with a controller.
Child of Eden
Child of Eden is set in the far future, and Eden is the future of today's Internet. It holds the memories and personalities of the human race, but Eden is under attack by viruses. Your job is to purify Eden so that Lumi, a new personality, can be born within Eden.
When the game starts out and you are killing viruses, you just hear Lumi's voice. As the game progresses, she begins singing and her face appears on a bubble. Keep killing viruses, and her body eventually begins to take shape. The viruses look like little creatures and come in all different sizes and shapes. You have to shoot the bigger ones multiple times, presenting a greater challenge.
You can only use one hand at a time to shoot, but you can switch hands at any time. You use your hand to mark targets by waving it over them. When you want to fire, you push your hand toward the screen, palm open just like when Iron Man shoots. You clap your hands to switch between rapid fire and normal mode.
In addition to using your hand to shoot, you can also use your hand to change the view. This allows you to look up and down as well as side to side. Navigating can be a bit overwhelming, especially when you're moving at high speed; items are whizzing by, and psychedelic colors are exploding everywhere. It's very abstract, almost like what I'd imagine someone would experience if they were high.
Fighters Uncaged showed off head-to-toe body movement. It's a one-on-one fighting game that requires both arm and leg movements. You can punch, throw a knee to the groin, kick your opponent, sweep his leg and more. I was disappointed to see that they only had male characters. Why can't girls kick ass too?
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved
According to the demo rep, Ubisoft employed a number of different fitness experts to produce Your Shape. One of the main advisors to the game was the trainer from "The Biggest Loser Australia." They also had a celebrity trainer handle the cardio kickboxing portion of the game.
Your Shape tracks your fitness progress and gives an assessment of your current level by having you stand in front of the Kinect sensor while it looks at your body. After scanning you, the game will give you a list of recommendations that feature areas and exercises that you should focus on. This still needs a little work because during the demo, the game suggested that the Ubisoft rep try the senior citizen workout program.
This is a neat feature for older players because it is designed to get people with limited mobility moving around rather than focusing on losing weight. Other features include a general workout, focused workouts (such as arms and legs), cardio kickboxing and the Zen mode. Zen mode is more relaxing and features exercises centered on yoga and Tai Chi. Finally, there is a section that just has minigames, including a balancing game, using a hula hoop and more.
Everything you do in Your Shape is tracked, and the game keeps a running count of all the calories burned. You can even hook up to it online to view your progress.
Motion Sports: Play for Real
Not all of the sports were available for demo. I only got a chance to play skiing and hang gliding. The full game will also feature boxing, football, horseback riding and soccer, among others.
Skiing was a lot of fun. You need to stay in the proper tucked body position for most of the game, unless you want to jump. In order to jump, you need to stand up, and to land, you need to get back into the tucked position. Before starting out, you need to push off with your imaginary poles, and to turn, you need to lean to the left or the right. Don't lean too much, or you'll end up in the fence and then you'll be skiing backward. Thankfully, the game automatically switches you back to facing forward.
The goal of the skiing game is to follow the course down the mountain and ski between the flags. Every time you pass between a set of flags, your speed increases. While it's fun, it was a lot harder than it looks. This game will definitely require some practice.
Skiing and soccer are the only two games that support split-screen play, where two players can compete at the same time. Otherwise, all of the multiplayer modes are solely turn-based.
For hang gliding, you needed to stand with your arms extended in front of you the entire time. Apparently, the game tracks your position based on your belly button. To accelerate, you needed to lean forward until your arms are below your belly button. To slow down, you stand up.
The game centered on flying your hang glider into a series of rings. If you are too slow and need to pick up speed, you can fly into white tornadoes. You can keep track of your speed by checking on the speedometer in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Get too slow, and you crash and die. The courses can be challenging because the rings aren't just floating in mid-air. Some of them are right next to buildings, and if you miss, you'll run into the side of a building.
All in all, Ubisoft seems to have a promising Kinect lineup. The fighting game didn't do anything for me, but everything else looked pretty interesting. The way they integrated minigames into Your Shape was appealing, and the exercises looked easy to do. Motion Sports offers a lot of variety, and Child of Eden should please the hardcore gamer.
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