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Kinecting you to the Xbox 360

Motion sensors are the latest in gaming, and with the Kinect for Xbox 360 you can control the game without controllers. tabloid! tried it first

  • Kinect
    Enthusiasts get first hand experience of the new video game console Kinect during a preview in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Kinect
    Florence Pia Yu, Deputy Web Editor of Gulf News, gets first-hand experience of the new video game console, KinImage Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Kinect
    The X-box Kinect device.Image Credit: Reuters/Microsoft

Flail your arms. Jump. Duck. Do a side step. Play. Dance. Exercise. Do whatever you want. No controller required.

Microsoft's motion-sensing Kinect for the Xbox 360 is coming to the UAE on November 10 and tabloid! got a first-hand experience of what it is like.

Imagine user-interactivity at its highest level. Well, Kinect has phased out controllers as a way of manoeuvring through any game. The word "couch potato" no longer applies. You have to get up and get moving to be in the game.

"Kinect provides you a whole new way to play. Essentially, [technology] evaporates, letting the natural magic of play kick in and transforming how you play and interact. You can jump into a new world of entertainment. It takes the controller out of your hands and puts you in control of your entertainment," said Aman Sangar, product marketing manager, Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division Middle East.

So how does it work? Plug Kinect into your Xbox 360 console and get ready for virtual play. Built-in cameras and sensors in the device will recognise your body movements. You dance and your avatar dances. Sounds like fun? It is.

Kinecting you

Look, Ma, no controller!

Wouldn't my mother be shocked to find out that we've gone a long way since the Nintendo family computer of yesteryear. She was always kidding me about the way I flailed around the controller if I wanted Super Mario to jump. I didn't have digit dexterity back then.

Now, it's an entirely different ball game. In one fell swoop, Kinect has changed the world of gaming as we know it. At least that's what I felt when I first tried out the new motion-sensing system that goes with the Xbox 360 at a pre-launch event on Sunday.

For me, the best feature of Kinect is the way it allows me to control the game using body movements. It certainly felt a real-life Minority Report. It is interactive in the truest sense of the word. Barely three minutes into an adventure game — which had me ducking, jumping and kicking — and I was already sweating. It's a workout and gaming rolled into one.

Now the question is, is it better than the PlayStation 3 or the Nintendo Wii? I won't delve into the extras (connectivity and what-have-you), just the core, which is, of course, the gaming experience. In terms of graphics and aesthetics, it is definitely up there with PlayStation 3. In terms of games, PlayStation 3 for me still rules the arena with the variety of games on offer, especially war games and car racing games. The Kinect for the Xbox 360 has a respectable 15 games on offer at the launch.

The clincher would be the way you prefer to play. The PlayStation 3 admittedly allows for lazy play since I'd just be sitting on the couch, immersed in the game, using the wireless controller. On the other hand, there will be days when I'm in workout mode, which is where Kinect will come in handy. There is also a question of handicaps. The Kinect is definitely not for players who have trouble getting on their feet (or moving their body parts for that matter).

Games are the next big thing. The Kinect Adventures game holds much promise for multi-players, but I think the most fun will be with Kinect Sports, which allows you to play at least six different sports. I'm not sure about tennis and golf though. Wii still rules that arena since it comes with motion-sensing accessories for a more realistic play. But Kinect competes and probably surpasses the Wii with the Your Shape game for anyone wishing to work out while playing. You also get better looking graphics for your avatar and personal trainer.

All in all, I'd say different strokes for different folks. Come November, all you need to do is choose what video game console works for you.

What is kinect?

The Kinect is an accessory for the Xbox 360 console that allows users to control the Xbox 360 without the use of a game controller.

How does it work?

The Kinect device uses cameras to recognise body movements. You jump and your avatar jumps. The full-motion sensors track 48 points on your body. Kinect also has voice and face-recognition technology and delivers a multiplayer experience.

What kind of games are available?

There are 15 titles available at the time of launch. This includes Kinect Adventures, where you can make your way through roaring rapids and exotic locations. Ronaldinho and Pacquiao wannabes, gloat all you want with Kinect Sports, which offers up to six kinds of sport. For those wanting to exercise, get your avatar moving with Your Shape, or else have your own dance group with Dance Central.

What else can you do with the Kinect?

You can store movies, TV programmes and music and control them with literally just a wave of the hand. When playing games, the system will take snapshots of you in action which you can store or upload on Facebook. Another application for Kinect is Video Kinect for voice chat, video chat or Windows Live Messenger.

When is it launching in the UAE?

It hits the shelves on November 10.

How much will it cost?

If you already own an Xbox 360, the Kinect sensor will cost you Dh699 (suggested retail price). The bundle comes with the Kinect Adventures game. A bundle of Xbox 360 (4GB), Kinect sensor and one game will cost approximately Dh1,399.

A similar bundle with the Xbox 360 (250GB) console will be available for Dh1,650.

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