I think it's about time to share my real thoughts about Microsoft and Sony's lofty ambitions to match the Wii at what it did first, if not best. Both Kinect and Move are now mere months from store shelves, so the question is: am I looking forward to either-if not both- of them, or are they merely potential dust collectors!?
Considering the relatively poor showing of Kinect at this year's E3 press conference for Microsoft, I have to say from the off that I have been utterly demoralised to caring about what was previously called 'Natal'. The “hands-free” technology, granted, looks entirely innovative and exceptional in its own right, but given we were presented with cheap knock-off sport collections and duller-than-dull casual titles, I edge my bets that Kinect will be a stupendous failure- alike to other monumental cock-ups like the Mega CD addition to the Megadrive. So, the problem lies not with Microsoft per se (although they can be partly to blame), but also the developers who seem insistent on re-producing shoddy shovel-ware party games that can be taken straight from the mould of the “Nintendo Wii School of Family Friendly Gaming”.
Oh, and the price? Microsoft seem reluctant to waver a mere mention of such a figure, although pre-orders are being taken for $149.99 in the States. This can be converted to around £140-150 upon arrival in the UK after import taxations and VAT etc., although it is very much an estimate at the moment. If it does come out at the price however, I see a very small uptake and poor initial sales. Looking instead at Move's price plan and it's somewhat cumbersome, although at least it can be ordered at the time of writing (take note, Microsoft!). The varied prices will depend on whether or not you already own a Playstation Eye camera, which makes Move's fantastic 1:1 technology possible. The singular Move controller is priced at £34.99 (albeit without the sub-controller- a further £24.99!), whilst a pack to get you started with Move (that is, the initial Move controller, Playstation Eye and demo disc) will set you back around £50. It's by no means over-priced, although by no means cheap, Move is certainly the more generous option at this moment in time, though I question the worthiness of such an addition so late in the consoles life cycle.
The announcement at E3 2009 of Natal/Kinect had me beside myself with conflicting emotions; shock, excitement, awe. It had everything; big name movie directors singing its praises, a great TV spot of its singing possibilities, and good old Peter Molyneux lavishing his wise words to what it means for the industry... Ahh, good times. A year on, and it tells a different story. The poor showing- along with the price point estimation- has me shaking my head in disbelief. Don't get me wrong, I'm more than excited to try it out, but really, how could it go this wrong? Will we be buying the device, only to use it as a swanky Minority Report-esque dashboard controller, or will it really be the 'game-changer' that many at Microsoft really believe it is?
On the flip side, Sony's showing of Move in the summer of 2009 was agitated and nervy, with two on-stage demoers utterly bewildered they'd been put in such a situation. The tech seemed buggy and less than responsive, whilst there were absolutely no signs towards a hint of a game, of any sort!
June 2010, however, brought me new-found optimism in favour of Move. The titles that have been shown up to this point look sound, if a little stale. We have the sports mini-game collections that seem to be the one good thing all motion controller inputs are good at (with Sports Champions), whereas the likes of integration into Socom 4 look more than unique, and bizarrely, looks like it actually works well! Where I think Move can really excel however is where games can go that extra step with Move support- imagine, for example, David Cage's Heavy Rain with Move (it is planned, by the way). It's what the game was made for, is it not? Furthermore, such entirely promising demo's of integration into Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet have already been showcased, in a reminder that we may not need outlandish new game mechanics, but merely expanding on existing game play possibilites. Move's on my pre-order list for sure, I now await its September 15th release. Kinect, you have me disconnected.