Playing Kinect is also exhausting. We may be out-of-shape journalists, but we defy anyone not to end up panting. If you have kids, the attraction of a gadget that's both entertaining and exhausting will be strong. We found that Kinect frequently lagged or failed in its attempts at tracking us mid-game, but we'd be lying through our teeth if we said that these issues stopped us enjoying ourselves.
Kinect won't satisfy the hard-core gaming crowd, but we think it'll delight children and make for an excellent entertainment piece at any party. There are a few things that might stymie your enjoyment of Microsoft's motion-gaming monolith, though.
Firstly and most importantly -- Kinect requires plenty of playing space. The Kinect instruction manual recommends having 6 feet of clear space in front of the sensor for single-player games, and 8 feet of clear space if you're playing with two people, which you probably will be. We're not here to judge, but flailing around in your house by yourself might be considered sad.
When playing Kinect Adventures, the game urged us to start shunting furniture around, which seemed rather pushy. The same game prevented us from playing in two-player mode until we could prove to Kinect that we were stood far back enough. If your living room is on the small-side, you're going to struggle, and we can't see the average UK bedroom being big enough to accommodate Kinect. It's a major problem that may stop people picking up a Kinect at Christmas.
We found, though, that, once we started playing, Kinect was actually fairly lenient, allowing us to stand quite close to the sensor (3 or 4 feet) before it started bleeping at us to stand back, although this will vary game to game. Kinect also has a redeeming feature in that the sensor bar itself is motorised, and will try to adjust itself to achieve the best viewing angle.
Another problem to bear in mind is that, at launch, only games that support two players simultaneously will be available. Both the Wii and allow for four players at the same time. Microsoft assures us that Kinect is technically capable of tracking up to six bodies at the same time, but, to be honest, with the space requirements being so large for even two players, you'd need an aircraft hanger to get the kind of floor space needed for four people playing at the same time.
The other issue that's bound to put some people off initially is the price. New tech comes at a premium, and prices are bound to drop in the near future, but £130 for the sensor bar plus a game seems steep.
Kinect won't cater to the hard-core gaming market -- it's just not accurate enough. But it's rollicking great fun. Exhausting and ridiculous, you're guaranteed a giggle if you get the kids involved or set it up at your next party. Just bear in mind that you'll need plenty of space.
Edited by Charles Kloet