My Kinect rests adoringly on my desk, staring out at me as I sit and play on my Xbox One. It listens intently to my every word, it recognises me and greets me when I sit down in front of it, it can even record my reactions as I edit the videos of my most awesome kills on Battlefield 4 or most ridiculous goals on FIFA 14. In all, it’s the friend I never knew I needed. It does things for me that I didn’t even realise I couldn’t be bothered to do myself … that sounds weird.
If you haven’t quite worked it out yet, today I want to tell you all about the Kinect and why I believe it’s the perfect accompaniment to the Xbox One. At first, I was a little sceptical about the whole thing. I sat and watched the videos before release of the Microsoft employees playing on the console using voice commands like “Xbox, on”, “Xbox, record that” and “Xbox, go to TV”, and witnessed the Xbox perform them as if by magic. I was smug in my assumptions, believing that the employees had set it all up, that there was a person hiding behind the sofa pressing the appropriate buttons like some sort of tech-gremlin. But after just three minutes of using the console with the Kinect sensor myself, it quickly became apparent that there was no tomfoolery in those videos. It responds almost perfectly, with the occasional instance where it might ignore you in the first instance. I use the commands almost every day, and I only ever use the controller to actually play games. I think that shows how much of a success the Kinect integration has been, and I know that the majority of my friends agree with me.
Possibly my favourite aspect of the Kinect integration is the automatic sign in feature. There’s something incredibly comforting about sitting down in front of your Xbox One and having “Hi, Alec!” pop up on the screen in a mere second of your bum hitting the seat. It then automatically loads your home screen, along with your favourites and everything you’ve pinned to the dashboard. If another Xbox user was to sit down next to you (and they had manually signed in to the Xbox using Kinect once before) it will automatically sign them in too, allowing two players on screen at the same time. If they were to then say “Xbox, load my favourites”, the Xbox would, (you’ve guessed it), load the dashboard from their own Xbox One. It’s a small feature, but it’s the little things about this console that put a smile on my face.
It also leads to awkward conversations with those who are listening to you play, such as your mum asking you, “why are you kinky?”
Kinect also works really well in-game, as well as on Kinect based games. Kinect Sports Rivals hasn’t yet been released, but the taster demo is currently free to play. The demo is responsive and the figures smoothly follow your movements. Thanks to the Kinect’s wider lens, you can play these games with less room than before. It means that for people like me, with small rooms, you can still enjoy the full abilities of the Kinect sensor. It also works well with Kinect enabled games, such as Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome. These games use voice commands to aid you during battle in Ryse and help you manage the zombie horde in Dead Rising. The voice commands in Dead Rising 3 are especially fun, most specifically during the ‘psycho boss battles’. Using commands like “you’re crazy”, “you’re gorgeous” or “I’m kinky” helps to aggravate some of the bosses, enabling you to get in a few cheap shots whilst they’re distracted. It also leads to awkward conversations with those who are listening to you play, such as your mum asking you, “why are you kinky?”.
Yet, there are still occasions where the voice commands aren’t as smooth as they could be. Once or twice I found myself screaming “FIRE VOLLEY!!” at the screen in Ryse, when the archers wouldn’t hear my command. I’ve also accidently managed to pause Dead Rising 3 and load a previous game through a conversation I was having with my brother in the opposite room. The only other sour note to add is how it handles in FIFA at times. The ability to argue with the ref, and even see your player’s mouth moving as the camera pans onto you, is amazing and really effective, yet sometimes it hears things that you simply don’t say. I was banned from two league matches for supposed ‘swearing’, when all I did was cough and sigh. However, if this annoys you, as it did me that day, then I just turned kinect off via tha pause menu of the game – problem solved. However, these were iscolated events and in the most part, I couldn’t be happier with using Kinect to enhance my gaming experience. One thing I will note, though, is that on occasion I do miss the feel of the controller in my hand. It took me a little while to stop automatically reaching for the controller when all I needed to say was “Xbox, go to Dead Rising 3”. But, once I’d gotten over that jerk reaction, I realised how much simpler gaming was using a combination of my voice and the controller.