E3 Debuts Kinect Redesign

The conference revealed a more subtle motion capture system to be packaged with the Xbox One

By Tim Alberdingk Thijm, staff writer

This year’s edition of the video game conference E3 became a faceoff between Sony and Microsoft, who are both releasing next-generation systems before Christmas. Many claim that Sony emerged a clear victor over Microsoft – whose DRM (digital rights management), $500 price tag, Kinect monitoring, and 24-hour check in have some gamers fuming. Yet Microsoft brought some new and intriguing features to the floor with their revolutionary new approach to Kinect.

The feature was first introduced with the Xbox 360 as a way to use motion capture to play a variety of games. With the Xbox One, not only is Microsoft including the expensive Kinect as a part of the package, they are also using it in new ways. “We’re able to bring natural, intuitive, instinctive Kinect input in a way that’s thrilling even to the most hardcore gamers,” said Xbox reps during a hardware demonstration.

Ryse: Son of Rome and Dead Rising 3 were on display at E3 to demonstrate their new Kinect capabilities. Crytek’s Ryse is a hack-and-slash third-person action title where a Roman centurion leads a group of legionnaires against various enemies. While it isn’t immediately apparent from the gameplay trailer, Ryse uses the Kinect for basic gesturing to the troops and shouting orders: essentially, it’s a form of “advanced mode” where the player has more control over their little minions.

While the game itself is mostly based around QTEs (quick time events) and bloody executions that would make the characters on HBO’s Rome blush, this use of Kinect in a simple design – while perhaps less impressive than its original incarnation – suggests new possibilities for how the system can enhance games.

Dead Rising 3, the successor to Dead Rising 2, trades in lovable badass dad Chuck Greene for some Kinect play of its own. The Capcom title, which features a protagonist fighting even more enormous hordes of zombies with improvised weapons and terrific one-liners, is taking the generic open-world zombie game and adding a little bit of spice with the Kinect, giving players a new concern while they play: how much noise am I making?

These zombies can hear you through the Kinect, and will come running for a bite, at which point some real-life wriggling may be necessary to escape their grasp. “We were impressed by how sensitive the sensors are,” said a Microsoft engineer. “It can understand natural human movement, things gamers naturally do.”

The new Kinect may mean you won’t always need to waggle your hips in front of the television, and can instead enjoy a more relaxed form of play using sound, light and even temperature to interact with your games. These changes bring the Kinect more in-line with the Wii’s use of motion capture, where players don’t necessarily have to stand up to utilize the controls. Instead, they can do so from the comfort of their own couch, with much less flailing around and smacking into fellow gamers than there was before.

Tim Alberdingk Thijm is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Ontario. He is enrolled at the University of Toronto. Tim occasionally posts on his blog about writing, video games, and theatre, at cheeserollpincher.wordpress.com.

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