Whenever anything involves the Star Wars franchise, there are certain expectations that need to be met to satisfy die-hard and casual fans. So when a new video game wants to bring Star Wars to life like never before, that’s setting the bar really high.
Kinect Star Wars tries to use the power of the Kinect controller for the Xbox 360 to put players into the action, using full body motions to wield lightsabers, drive podracers, and, unfortunately, dance for Jabba the Hutt. The game has a few high points, but more disappointments than a bad motivator on a defective R2 unit.
There are five sections to the game, offering different styles of gameplay and a complete campaign for each. One section, Duels of Fate, is locked at the very beginning, but quickly unlocks after completing the first mission in the Jedi Destiny section.
Jedi Destiny is where players learn how to use their body movements to control the Force and use their lightsaber. Players start out as training padewans (those who are just learning how to use the Force) and are quickly thrust into a conflict with the Sith.
When the Kinect controller works, the actions are seamless and fluid. The animations look somewhat similar to what you’d see in a Star Wars: Clone Wars cartoon, which means they are easy on the eyes and familiar.
Force actions are fun to use. Grabbing a battle droid with the Force and flinging him into a group of his mates is quite enjoyable.
However, when the Kinect controller fails to read my actions properly, no amount of flailing in front of my screen will alleviate my frustration. More often than not, I couldn’t control the action as well as I would have liked and ended up many times just wading into groups of enemies and waving my lightsaber around.
There are times during Jedi Destiny when you control a speeder, gun turret or X-wing fighter for battles, but the controls seems sluggish and difficult to accurately pinpoint shots.
Rancor Rampage was probably the most fun out of all the segments. Players act as a freed rancor (remember him? The monster in the pit at Jabba’s lair?) and get to smash people, droids and buildings with abandon.
Here is where flailing about actually works to your advantage. The rancor smashes the ground to level opponents, charges through buildings with abandon and yes, eats people to gain health. The controls felt responsive to the appropriate moves and it was the best 1:1 movement experience out of all the game segments.
The podracing section is pretty straightforward. Players act as the driver and use their motion to control speed, direction and ramming abilities. The storyline occurs years after Anakin Skywalker won his race in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, but many of the characters are still around and add some great dialog in between races.
The feel of being in a podracer is well animated and would be fun.. except holding your arms out continually to control your racer gets tiring and painful. The races are rather long and you’ll need to take breaks often just so you can rest your shoulders.
Galactic Dance Off is the least Star Wars-like segment of the entire game. It is pretty much any Kinect dancing game and given a Star Wars coating. Modern dance songs are slightly tweaked to include Star Wars characters or action. Some of the dance moves are named after Force moves and even iconic characters are dragged onto the dance floor.
From a straight gameplay perspective, the dancing works and will be enjoyable to those who like that particular game. For someone hoping to have a Star Wars experience, the Dance Off is something best avoided and seems more like padding to the game than offering anything of substance to the title.
Duels of Fate puts you in one-on-one lightsaber battles with different foes from Star Wars lore, advancing your way through the ranks to face off against the Dark Lord himself, Darth Vader. If any part of the game was going to appeal to fans, it was going to be this one.
However, this segment is plagued by the same problems found in Jedi Destiny. The motions appear off at times, it is hard to string together actions for a successful hit, and the feel of the action is less than enjoyable.
Overall, Kinect Star Wars is likely to appeal to some gamers with the different styles of play in the segments. It is unfortunate that the two areas where the gameplay actually works best are two segments (Rancor Rampage and Galactic Dance Off) that are not part of the Star Wars canon.
Maybe we expect too much from a Star Wars title when we want it to reflect exactly what we’ve seen in the movies and television. Maybe our imagination of putting ourselves in the place of Luke Skywalker or Darth Maul can’t successfully be translated into a video game.
The right ideas are in the game for what could be a fulfilling experience. However, the Kinect controller, for all the good that it does in other titles, lets the player down and doesn’t see through with the promise of a new hope for the gamer/fan experience.
Kinect Star Wars is available now exclusively for the Xbox 360 and can only be played using the Kinect controller. It is rated T for Teens due to mild language, mild suggestive themes, and violence. This review was done playing on the Xbox 360 with the Kinect controller.
It was the year of hacking, the year of breaking records and the year of flinging birds at pigs. The year of gaming in 2011 had plenty of ups and down and that doesn’t even include all the video game titles that were released. While the explosion of social and mobile gaming continues to affect all games, it was a hacking incident that focused attention on the dark side of online gaming.
Gaming Network Hacked
In April, Sony confirmed that its PlayStation Network, the online service that has more than 77 million users and allows online play for it PS3 consoles, was hacked and taken offline.
It was more than just a denial of service ploy. Sony said that personal data, including credit cards information, was accessed and compromised. While they stopped short of saying “stolen,” the company recommended that its customers keep an eye on their credit card accounts and watch out for identity theft.
An outside security agency was hired to find out what happened and the network service stayed offline for several days while changes were made to prevent more intrusions. Sony also offered special incentives to bring back gamers after they fixed the issues.
But in October, the PlayStation Network was hacked again – this time affecting “only” 93,000 accounts. This intrusion affected thousands of user IDs and passwords.
Sony said the lessons they learned from the April hack prevented more information from being illegally accessed. A teenager inLondonwas quickly arrested in connection with the crime.
And before you think this was just a PlayStation problem, Microsoft announced that its Xbox Live customers were the targets of a malicious phishing attempts to scam personal user information. Microsoft was quick to point out that their online gaming service was not hacked and there was no breach of security.
Earlier in the year, the hacker group LulzSec released a data file with names, email addresses and passwords they said could be used to get into Xbox Live accounts as well as other accounts.
Breaking Entertainment Records
You know gaming is big when the release of a game smashes entertainment records for sales.
For the third consecutive year, the “Call of Duty” franchise raised the bar with the release of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” by earning more than $400 million and selling more than 6.5 million units in North America and the United Kingdom in the first 24 hours.
If that wasn’t enough, the game had more than $775 million in sales during the first five days. “Modern Warfare 3” also broke the record for peak concurrent players on Microsoft’s Xbox Live online gaming service.
According to Activision Blizzard, the all-time sales for the “Call of Duty” franchise exceeds worldwide box office sales for “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings.” There were more than 13,000 midnight openings at retail stores worldwide for the release of the new title.
Last year, “Call of Duty: Black Ops” sold $360 million on its first day while “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” sold $310 million on its first day in 2009.
Mobile/Social Gaming Explosion
Gaming has transformed from being played on computers to home consoles to mobile phones. With it, game developers recognized they have a new audience to appeal to with games designed to be played quickly and with others electronically.
Zynga, a social network game developer responsible for “CityVille,” “FarmVille” and “Words With Friends,” recently filed an initial public offering with the SEC and began trading on NASDAQ. While the stock failed to rocket as previous dotcom stock did in the heyday of the tech bubble, the market for social and mobile is still very much a battleground.
Companies are developing games for smart phones and tablets and incorporating chat or other social features to allow players around the world enjoy games together. Atari recently announced they were changing their mission to work exclusively on social and mobile gaming while publishers like Electronic Arts continue to push big names (“Madden”) to the small screen. EA also bought Popcap Games for a whopping $750 million.
Facebook made it even easier for game play on their social network while Apple’s inclusion of the Game Center on their iPhones reflect the growing interest by the public toward gaming with others while on the move.
More Than a Gaming Device
Kinect for the Xbox was introduced with the idea of making motion gaming easy and fun for users. But creative people began “hacking” the device and make use of its cameras and sensors for more than just play.
Some people have used the Kinect to create very life-like movies using CG rendered figures. Other use it to manipulate video playback so that multiple screens can be created or erased as the user needs.
Kinect is also a watchdog for your home. A program turns on the Kinect when it senses motion and takes pictures of the “intruder’s” face, which can be stored or even sent online.
While hacking the Kinect wasn’t new this year, the ingenuity at which people were including the motion sensing device rose to new and exciting levels.
“Angry Birds” vs. The World
“Angry Birds” moved out of the gaming arena and into the pop culture spotlight with their inclusion in commercials, being released as stuffed toys and the very real possibility of a full length movie in the near future.
It is also notable for the people who play – U.S. Senator Chris Coons, basketball star Kevin Durant and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who plays the iPad version of the game.
There is also a yoga philosophy that uses the characters and gameplay mechanics to explain its teachings. Rovio, the company that created the game, opened its first official retail story in Helsinki and plans another somewhere in China.
3D Game Console Released
With much fanfare and hype, Nintendo released a new handheld console – the 3DS – that would let players experience 3D visuals without the use of special glasses. It was supposed to revolutionize what the gaming experience was going to be.
The console was released inJapanin February and inNorth Americain March. But by August, Nintendo dropped the price on the device by $80 after demand for it was softer than expected.
As of March, Nintendo had only sold 3.61 million units – far short of the 4 million the company was expecting to sell. To appease early adapters who bought the 3DS at the early price, Nintendo offered 20 free downloadable games – ten free NES Virtual Console games and ten Game Boy Advance Virtual Console games.
The device also suffered from a perception problem as the company stated publically that the 3D mode should not be used by players 6 years old and younger. While there has been no scientific data to show any harm to the development of eye sight in children, some players did report experiencing headaches after continuous playing.
New Gaming Hardware
This year, two major gaming hardware companies announced they were going to come out with new gaming consoles.
At the Electronic Entertainment Expo inLos Angeles, Sony showed off its new handheld game console, the PlayStation Vita, while Nintendo introduced its newest home console, theWiiU.
The Wii U announcement has been described as the next generation of gaming consoles and is expected to be fully backwards compatible with the Wii. The controller will have an embedded single-touch screen and the console will be able to produce high-definition graphics.
There were worries that the console will be too expensive to compete with the PS3 and Xbox 360. Nintendo has said the Wii U will be released after March 2012.
In contrast, the PlayStation Vita, Sony’s new handheld console and the successor to the PSP, was released inJapanin December and is expected to hit North American andUnited Kingdomshores in February. It boasts touch screens on the front and back as well as dual analog joysticks.
Vita will also be available in two versions: one with 3G support and one without. The 3G service will be provided by AT&T in theUSand Vodafone inEurope.
Moving from subscription to free-to-play
“World of Warcraft” wasn’t the first, but it has been the most successful subscription based game for massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) with 10.3 million subscribers as of November.
So it stands to reason that others would try to take a slice of that very large pie. “DC Universe Online” wanted to capitalize on the power of DC Comics and online gaming in a big way.
The game allowed players the opportunity to act out their comic hero/villain fantasies in the DC Universe and interact with iconic characters like Superman, Joker or Wonder Woman. Initially, players paid a monthly fee (around $15 in the U.S.), but by September, there were reports that the game was not doing as well as Sony, Warner Bros., and DC Comics would have liked.
In November, it was announced that the game would be free to play for anyone who wanted to play, but offered optional in-game microtransactions in place of the subscription fee. Two other paying levels were offered with different levels of in-game abilities being released as the price increased.
The strategy worked as “DC Universe Online” experienced a 2,500% increase in total playtime per day and a 1,000% increase in their user base.
More Affordable PS3
Perhaps feeling the heat from their hacking incidents or maybe just an attempt to chip away at Microsoft’s lead in the console market, Sony announced a price drop for their flagship console, the PlayStation 3.
The price drop put the cost on par with the Xbox 360, but didn’t include any bundling with the Move controller (that came later in the year). Some analysts wondered if Microsoft would respond with a price drop of their own – something that did not occur.
The Xbox 360 has traditionally been the top selling gaming console in the U.S.
The Season of 3
Finally, you can’t talk about the year in gaming without talking about games. This year, many of the popular franchises produced sequels with many of the shooter titles sporting the number three in their titles.
“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” “Battlefield 3” and “Gears of War 3” all brought back familiar gameplay and characters while putting them in new situations and scenarios.
“Uncharted 3,” featuring the treasure-seeking ways of Nathan Drake, closed out that franchise. “Resistance 3” also brought an end to the alien invasion of Earth. And “F.E.A.R 3” finally stopped making us dread little girls in darkened hallways.
X-Play host Morgan Webb said all these sequels and finale installments are happening for a reason – new consoles on the near future.
“We’re nearly the end of a console cycle so series that have begun at the beginning of the console cycle, they’re starting to finish up the series,” she said. “People have made the investment in the franchise and they’ve got the art together and they don’t want to create something completely new when new consoles are starting to be on the horizon.”
Microsoft’s big announcements at E3 were slightly blunted by a web error that inadvertently tipped off what was going to happen at their press conference.
Xbox.com had a graphic earlier in the day that headlined news about 2 new Halo games (“Halo 4” and “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary), a Kinect Star Wars game, and a Dance Central 2 game.
There was also a graphic about Voice Searching coming to Xbox Live as well as the promise of a new look and new features.
Now onto the highlights from the actual E3 press conference!
Right out of the gate, a live demo of an underwater scene gets a “disconnected controller” icon. So you know it is happening in real time.
The game footage has a strike team going after a Russian sub in what appears to be a flooded out city. Still no title yet.
After placing an explosive on the sub and surfacing with it, the scene shows a bombed out city. The strike team moves into place to take over the sub.
Breaking into the control room in slow motion, the team takes the access key to the weapons and gets set to launch missiles. Then the team makes their way out of the war zone.
And with that, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” kicks off the Microsoft press conference. The game is announced to be available on November 8.
Don Mattrick takes the stage. Talks about biggest year in Xbox history and an innovative time of growth for games and entertainment.
Coming up, more Kinect experiences, entertainment choices, and games.
“Tomb Raider” is next. They are showing the demo, which explains how Laura Kroft becomes the famed archeologist we all know.
The demo shows Laura in some sort of webbing. She escapes and nearly kills herself on bones from the fall.
A human tries to grab her before she flees into a tiny cavern. Puzzle time now as she looks for a way out.
And finally, she’s free. Out of the caves, she discovers a ship graveyard. The game will be out in Fall 2012.
Now we move on to EA Sports. Four EA Sports titles (Tiger Woods, Madden, FIFA, and one more to be announced later) will have Kinect support. Voice control is talked about for Sims and Madden.
Bioware steps out and announced Mass Effect 3, with a brand new adventure. A galactic battle with plantary consequences, but it still has all the choices and karma effects.
The game also will support Kinect Voice Control. A demo shows Voice Control taking over for the controller when it comes to choosing dialog.
Combat with Voice Control allows players to direct troops to location and tell them what powers to use. More to show at the EA briefing.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier now playing. Cinematic trailer only.
Ubisoft touts their Kinect connection to the beginning. They want to enhance their core games with Kinect and show a demo using Kinect and Ghost Recon gun modification program, Gun Smith.
All future titles with Tom Clancy franchise will be Kinect ready.
Marc Whitten from Xbox Live takes the stage.
Introducing a new way to be interactive with your entertainment, Xbox LIVE will allow your voice to control your music (11m songs), television, games, video. Plus YouTube will be coming to Xbox LIVE.
How will you find the entertainment you want? Whitten announces Bing is coming to Xbox and will help you find your entertainment choices – games, movies, songs.
“You say it. Xbox finds it.”
New partnerships to be announced in the future. Xbox also will have live television with partnerships around the world this Fall.
UFC is up next.
The ability to watch live fights, compete with friends are all available on Xbox.
Phil Spencer, from Microsoft Studios, comes out.
He talks about the interactivity of UFC and ESPN, but at their core, they are all about games.
All the exclusive titles are coming out, starting now.
“Gears of War 3” is first. Called the best, most polished game in the series.
Ice-T takes the stage to help demo the game. He is also part of the game, which is pretty darn cool (pun intended).
A cinematic trailer shows off “Ryse”, using the Kinect as the game controller.
The Halo franchise is front and center.
“Halo CE Anniversay” will be remade and remastered, to make it look up to date. Fully remastered campaign, 7 multiplayer maps, and will be out on November 15.
“Forza Motorsports 4” is the next to be shown. The promise is of a new and best car simulation game ever. Not just for the gearhead, but for the casual racer as well.
Kinect headtracking and voice control will be available during races.
“Fable: Journey” wants to connect you to the world like never before. Cinematic trailer shows a darker world devoid of heroes. Demo uses Kinect to steer a horse-drawn carriage, battle goblins using magic. Different hand movements cast different spells.
Phil Spencer is back.
Minecraft is coming to the Xbox and Kinect. It will be exclusive to the Xbox this winter.
“Disneyland Adventures” has recreated the park to allow people to visit without actually being there. Disney rides are reimagined to allow actual play during the “ride.” It will be available this holiday season.
Star Wars comes to the screen amid a roar of cheers from the crowd.
“Star Wars Kinect” is indeed a reality, allowing players to take be immersed in the Star Wars universe in a variety of ways – lightsaber battles, TIE fights, or just visiting the different worlds.
The live gameplay demo puts the player in the role of a Jedi against battledroids. And the Sith show up. End demo.
Double Fine is ready to show off their latest title, “Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster.” The live demo includes Elmo and the Cookie Monster mimicking the movements of a different monster. It will be out this fall exclusively for the Xbox.
“Kinect Fun Labs” will give people the chance to play with the next developments to the innovations and features available using the Kinect. Kinect Me lets people make an avatar that looks more like the player. The demo is pretty impressive.
Kinect Finger Tracking is the next innovation to be revealed. It allows people to draw in 3-D around objects and shows in 3-D.
Object Capture lets you scan in items and bring them to life. This will let players customize games and make it unique.
“Kinect Fun Labs” goes live today and available to Xbox LIVE members.
“Kinect Sports: Season 2” brings 6 new sports, in-game voice and new full-body gestures. Football, golf, darts, baseball, and two others will be ready this holiday season.
“Dance Central 2” takes the stage. They’ll use all the songs from “Dance Central” as well as 2 player simultaneous dancing.
Wrapping up, Don Mattick touts the all new features for Kinect with search, voice control, new content partnerships and blockbuster game exclusives. They are aiming to step up from #1 in North America to #1 globally.
One final video showing to close out the press conference.
Microsoft’s new controller for the Xbox 360 uses physical movements from the players to control action on the screen. There is nothing to hold and no buttons to push.
Three camera sensors and four microphones help the Kinect recognize who is standing in front of it. Player motions and voice recognition are translated into cursor movements or actions with a game.
Alex Kipman, Director of Incubation for Kinect, said they wanted to break down the technology barriers and make game interaction more natural.
“We wanted to transform entertainment where technology understands you,” Kipman said during a Kinect demo in Washington, D.C. “It was our goal to merge really amazing tech with a really amazing experience.”
Kipman explained that the specific components used to create Kinect have been around for years. He said the real breakthrough was in the proprietary software used to make it all work together.
Cloud profiles, where information is provided and stored on an as-needed basis rather than accessing from a local hard drive, help the Kinect and Xbox 360 learn about the users and the types of entertainment they might be interested in. It also helps with live streaming music, movies and more in real time.
Out of the box, the Kinect sensor is 11 inches long and 3 inches high, including the motorized stand that it sits on. Connecting to the Xbox is easy. For the new Xbox 360 Slim consoles, it is plug-and-play – no additional wires. To use on the Xbox 360 Original consoles, you will need a power source for the device.
After some software downloads, the Kinect calibrates itself to the room automatically. It is actuated by specific gestures (waving your hand at the Kinect) or by using a specific key word for voice commands (“Xbox”).
“It is technology that understands you,” Kipman said. “Kinect looks at 48 points on the body to figure out what it should do. It always knows who is in charge.”
The Kinect should go at or as near eye level as possible so it can easily see all your movements. Also, a clear space to play is needs so nothing impedes its view of the player and nothing gets knocked over or bumped. One player will need to be at least 6 feet back while 2 players should be about 8 feet from the screen.
Kinect is bundled with “Kinect Adventures,” a game that not only gets you moving, but teaches you how to use the device. Hovering your hand over game menu options activates those choices.
Five different adventures require the player to move and react to different scenarios. “Rallyball” will get you reacting to things being thrown at you. “River Rush” and “Reflex Ridge” get the player dodging and steering.
“Space Pop” requires using your arms to propel and move you in a weightless situation. “20,000 Leaks” will stretch you out as water attempts to rush in through cracked glass.
All of these adventures teach players how to use proper spacing and movements to control the action on the screen. These are gestures that will come in handy for other Kinect games.
FUN WITH WILD ANIMALS
“Kinectimals” was demonstrated at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2010 in Los Angeles in June and received high marks for the cuteness factor.
Players get to adopt a virtual pet. Choices include a Bengal tiger, lion, panther, cheetah or leopard cub.
By using voice commands and body gestures, kids can teach their cub to do tricks, feed and brush it, or just play games with it. It is definitely a game geared toward younger players and the interactivity does rate high on the cuteness meter.
Plus, there is something neat to rubbing a tiger cub on the belly – even if it is virtual.
NOW WE ARE BALLING
“Kinect Sports” really cranks up the action with six different games at four different skill levels.
From the outdoors to the table top, the different sports challenge players to really get involved with the action. Full body movements mimic those that would be needed to really play the sport.
Want to score a goal in soccer? Kick the ball.
Want to knock out your opponent in boxing? Throw a punch.
“The only skill you need is life skill,” Kipman said. “If you know how to bowl, you can bowl in our game.”
The action and movements are life-like and will get players moving. For example, while you won’t actually have a javelin in your hand (more on that later), you will need to run (in place) up to the line and throw.
The different skill levels make it easy for players to learn what to do and master those actions before moving up to more challenging opponents.
HEADING DOWN THE ROAD
“Kinect Joy Ride” is probably the one title that doesn’t feel like it lives up to what a racing game should be.
There are different game modes to race, do stunts or even crash into objects and each other. But it doesn’t feel quite right because, with Kinect, there is nothing to feel.
Your car is controlled by grabbing an imaginary steering wheel. There is no accelerator or brake; the game does that for you automatically.
Turning your hands left or right steers the car, but there is no tactile feedback to give you the sensation of running off the road or colliding with a light pole.
This isn’t a “Grand Turismo” title by any stretch of the imagination. However, a racing game should have a feel to it and this one just leaves you grasping for air.
GET YOUR BODY MOVING
Two other initial titles, “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved” and “Dance Central”, are where the Kinect really shines.
“Your Shape: Fitness Evolved” features workouts created by “Men’s Health” and “Women’s Health” magazines. The exercises are demonstrated and players are scored on how well they match the movements of the instructors.
There are Zen exercises for relaxation or Cardio Boxing for if you want to relax in a different way. There are also personalized exercise plans to help lose weight, tone the body or get more energy.
The Kinect helps correct postures and actions so users can get the most benefits out of the exercises being done. It really does works well.
“Dance Central” aims to get to moving to the beat, but realizes we all aren’t ready to strut our stuff on the dance floor.
The game combines today’s dance hits performed by pop stars with moves that might seem clunky at first, but do get more involved and intense as the difficulty ratchets up.
It is like “Guitar Hero” where you have to match up your movements to the movements on the screen to get the perfect score, but there is instruction to help you fan the flames of your dance fever.
MORE THAN GAMES
Because it does have cameras, Kinect also offers the ability to video connect with other Kinect users or those who use Microsoft’s Live Messenger program on computers.
It also works with the other entertainment selections features for the Xbox 360 like on-demand ESPN, music from Zune, and movies from Netflix.
“It is all about your choice, your content when you want it,” Kipman said.
GOOD FOR SOME, NOT SO MUCH FOR OTHERS
Microsoft said there will be 17 games between the launch of the Kinect and the holidays that will use the new controller. They all will likely not be Kinect only titles like the six featured above, but may use a combination of Kinect and the normal Xbox 360 controller.
The initial titles show where Kinect will shine and where it will stumble.
Games that feature full body movement will really highlight what the Kinect can offer. Syncing up your movements with the movements on the screen is a lot easier and more natural with Kinect than with a normal controller.
A surprise amusement factor in most of the games is the Kinect’s ability to record video while you are playing. While doing hurdles in track and field, my kitten decided to join the fun and began jumping as I jumped. Needless to say, the laughs were better after the game than during.
Games that would be better enhanced with a physical device in hand are going to feel flat and not quite up to the demands that players want from those types of games. Racing games and first-person shooter games may not have the same enjoyment factor with Kinect that they can with regular controllers.
Right now, the Kinect can understand languages from the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan and Canada with more to roll out in the near future. Kipman said they will be constantly refining voice recognition to help it recognize dialects in each language.
A Microsoft spokesperson said 30,000 North American retailers would have Kinect available on November 4 with 7,000 of those planning to open on at midnight. She would not reveal how many units would be available on launch day so get there early.
During the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), one of the games that was demonstrated with the Kinect motion-controller was the driving game “Forza.”
The hands-free Kinect allowed players to examine the virtual cars they were driving, get a look at features and peek inside at the interior. One car manufacturer is ready to use that technology to get people to examine their real cars.
Microsoft announced that it is partnering with Chevrolet to promote the new Chevrolet Volt through a new game for the Xbox 360 using Kinect.
A Microsoft press release said players will have the opportunity to take the test-drive concept to a new level by driving a Volt in “Kinect Joy Ride,” the first controller-free racing game from Microsoft. After viewing a video advertisement on Xbox LIVE or on the Web, consumers will be able to unlock the Volt to virtually drive the car in the game.
“Chevrolet Volt is not only offering a new way for car buyers to interact with and learn about a vehicle before heading to the dealership,” said Darren Huston, corporate vice president of the Global Consumer & Online group at Microsoft. “It’s enabling people to virtually test drive the Volt from the comfort of their own living room.”
Kiosks are also expected to be placed within Chevrolet showrooms to allow people to take a virtual test-drive in the econo-friendly vehicle.
Kinect is expected to be out in November.
One day after a price was “announced” on the Microsoft online store for its new motion-controller Kinect, the company added an explainer and appeared to soften on the cost.
Microsoft never announced a price during the E3 last week, but shortly after its press conference, the online game store GameSpot had the Kinect listed for pre-order at $149.99.
That page was quickly pulled, and Microsoft insisted that a final price for the new controller had not been determined.
On Tuesday, a price for the gaming system, which has no handheld controller and uses a camera to read the player’s movements, was posted on Microsoft’s online store.
The price? $149.99.
But on Wednesday, the Kinect order form had been changed to make clear that the official price has still not been determined.
“Official pricing has not been announced. $149.99 is an estimate only and subject to change,” the site reads. “Quantities may be limited. Orders will be fulfilled on a first in first served basis.”
A Microsoft representative did not return a message from CNN.com seeking to verify the price or find out how many pre-orders had been placed at the $149.99 price.
The order form also includes details about the hardware players will need to have to use the Kinect.
The controller is compatible with the Xbox 360, and Microsoft suggests 6 feet of space between the player and the television. This distance will vary according to sensor placement and other factors.
To connect with friends and family for game play or video chat, an Xbox Live Gold membership also is required.
A power cable, manual and Wi-Fi extension cable are included with the Kinect. The order form said the package will be available for shipping on or after November 4.
During the recently concluded Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Microsoft unveiled a new name for their motion controller and showed off what Kinect can do for home entertainment.
Shortly after their press conference, the online game store GameSpot had the Kinect for pre-order at a price of $149.99. The site was quickly pulled and Microsoft insisted that a final price for the new controller had not been determined.
It appears that Microsoft is ready to announce how much it will cost to bring Kinect into your home. Their own online store is apparently taking pre-order at the previously shown price — $149.99.
The order form also shows what you’ll need to have before you buy the Kinect. The controller is compatible with the Xbox 360 and they suggest 6 feet of space between the player and the television. This distance is will vary, according to the site, with sensor placement and other factors.
To connect with friends and family for gameplay or video chat, an Xbox LIVE Gold membership is also required.
A power cable, manual and Wi-Fi extension cable are included with the Kinect. The order form says the package will be available for shipping on or after November 4.
When developers and publishers of the world’s most popular games get together, expect big announcements, big promises and a few surprises. This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles promises to be bigger than ever.
Most of the focus will be on console makers with motion controller and 3D news from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. But game makers are ready to make their own noise with titles that should be ready to take advantage of the console advancements.
Fan favorites “Gran Turismo 5″ and “LittleBigPlanet 2″ will be getting upgrades with more realism, better graphics and more sharing between players. “SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs” will allow players to lead a 5-person squad on a six-day battle in Asia and it will be supported by the new Move controller.
“Killzone 3″ is ready to bring the realism into your gaming room. The first-person shooter will support full 3-D gameplay. Steven Ter Heide, Senior Producer of Killzone 3, said having larger areas to explore and an increased sense of immersion was challenging, but ambitious, to pull off.
“3-D really helps to heighten that sensation of being in the middle of this epic war,” he said. “The increased sense of immersion makes the environments and enemies almost tangible. It’s very much a foreground thing.”
Sony will also be showcasing their online role-playing game, “DC Universe Online”, and the latest incarnation into the God of War mythos, “God of War: Ghost of Sparta” for the PSP.
“Halo Reach” was released as a beta in May. More than 2.7 million players played over 17 days and Microsoft is ready to show the rest of the game during E3. It has already been tapped as the biggest seller in 2010 by a survey of game insiders.
Microsoft showcased many exclusive titles at a press conference prior to the opening of E3, including many games that will utilize their new motion-controller called Kinect. Big names like “Call of Duty: Black Ops”, “Gears of War 3″, and “Fable 3″ will be coming out later this year.
The early Kinect games (“Kinectimals”, “Kinect Sports”, “Kinect Joy Ride”, “Kinect Adventures”) are all played without a controller. Many will require games to be in pretty good shape to truly succeed and enjoy.
Likewise, Nintendo will be announcing games to go with their new 3-D handheld console, Nintendo 3DS. But they aren’t neglecting the Wii.
Samus returns in “Metroid: Other M”, which is expected to be release in 2010. They are also going to release info on a game that is currently called “Zelda Wii”, although that title is expected to change.
UbiSoft is trying to aim for the major genres with a first-person shooter, a driving game, and a sports game. “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon” will offer players the ability to become nearly invisible while completing their missions.
“Driver: San Francisco” brings the series to UbiSoft for the first time, staying true to the franchise while offering a high level of grittiness. And Olympic medalist Shawn White returns to his roots for the new “Shawn White Skateboarding” game.
Ubisoft president Laurent Detoc said this is a great time to be into gaming.
“3-D gaming will improve our storytelling, immersion and experience for the players,” Detoc said. “We think it is going to be enormous and continuing down a path we’re already on.”
Holding a press conference the day before E3, the company also unveiled a new fitness game to be used with Kinect, a shooting game that isn’t played in front of a computer and a video game inspired by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
Best of the rest
Starkiller is back to take on Darth Vader in “Star Wars: Force Unleashed II” from LucasArts. The cinematic trailers for the game have fans gasping and an early demo video shows some new powers. Then again, it is Star Wars, which means it will have an instant fan base ready to praise or bury the game.
Electronic Arts will have their latest versions on “Madden NFL 11″ and “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11″, which will offer online play for Ryder Cup action. “Bulletstorm” is a new game that will be revealed for the first time at E3 and offers “kill with skill” gameplay. EA is also ready to show off follow-ups to two of their big titles — “Crysis 2″ and “Dead Space 2″.
2KGames will be revealing more about their work on “Civilization V” and “Mafia II”.
Disney Interactive Studios is banking on games with movie tie-ins. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned”, “Tron Evolution”, and “Toy Story 3″ (which will be Move compatible) are going to be featured at E3. Mickey is also going to make an appearance for a new title called “Epic Mickey”.
Bethesda will be display their follow-up to the 2008 Game of the Year “Fallout 3″ with “Fallout: New Vegas” (Oct. 19). Imagine all the post-apocalyptic grime and grit, but amp it up and set it in Vegas. And what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay there.
Capcom is showing off the latest installment in the VS series with “Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds”. And what would a gaming conference be if there wasn’t a zombie sighting? “Dead Rising 2″ will give players the opportunity to turn everyday objects into weapons to repel massive zombie attacks.
There will be music games (“Rock Band 3″, “DJ Hero 2″), re-imagined classic characters (“Sonic the Hedgehog 4″, “Mortal Kombat”, “LEGO Harry Potter”), and sports games (“NBA Elite 11, NBA Jam”).
Many more game titles are going to be announced once the console makers release the new information about their hardware changes. There are sure to be some surprises (possibly a Michael Jackson dance game?).
As one participant said, “We’re going to have the biggest entertainment announcement of E3.” We’ll see at the end of the week who can really lay claim to that title.