LOS ANGELES — Microsoft unveiled a host of games and details for the exciting new Kinect system yesterday. The details are that it will release Nov. 4th and have 15 launch titles to go with it. The conspicuously absent detail was the price, which might produce a bit of sticker shock. We’ll just have to wait and see how that pans out…
Forza 4 Kinect:
Not many people expected Forza, a reliably and historically hardcore sim racing franchise, to embrace the new Kinect controls. However, Microsoft showed off some really snazzy functionality that could only be done with Kinect, including full view control that allows you to move your head and look in exactly the direction you are facing. It also features the ability to peruse the interior and exterior of any car in the game from any possible angle and offers hot-spots that offer additional tricks and information. For the actual gameplay demo, there was no control over acceleration or braking, only hand’s free steering and looking around with the player’s head. The computer handled the footwork, but this will likely be optional when the title ships sometime next year.
Although a dance game on Kinect seems like a no-brainer, it was a big surprise to have music game masters, Harmonix, reveal that they would be the one’s behind Kinect’s new killer-dance-app. Thanks to all the great relationships the developer is privy to through their Rock Band work and connected parents at MTV/Viacom, Dance Central is sure to have a blow-away track list of essential tunes to get down to. The demo was live and really amazingly performed to the classic Bel Biv DeVoe song ‘Poison’ by the Harmonix lead producer who can seriously move.
In order to make the title as authentic and impressive as possible, HMX worked with some of the best choreographers in the world. Some of the dances are actually those performed by the artists for the specific songs featured. It is also accessible and fun for players with little body control, as the difficulty is supposed to scale quite dramatically. This one should ship in Q4.
Star Wars Kinect:
This was a surprise announcement that warmed the hearts of nerds the world around (myself included). Lucas Arts and Microsoft will bring Star Wars Kinect to pass in Q2 2011. The trailer was just a teaser, but it featured a Jedi – presumably Luke Skywalker – moving through a wide corridor dispatching stormtroopers and other enemy hardware by blocking blaster fire, lightsabering and emitting a barrage of cool Force powers. The vid closed with Darth Vader stepping off a transport and preparing to get wild on our young friend.
The potential for awesomeness here is huge, so let’s hope this game can provide the kind of visceral and thrilling experience that the franchise ought to deliver on.
Additional games featured at the press conference were those that you could pretty much see coming. You have Kinect Sports, which is basically Wii Sports that will now involve and track your entire body. Kinectamals – a virtual, high-res petting zoo for the kiddies. Kinect Adventures is a series of Kinect-enabled multiplayer mini-games for fun with the fam or roommates. Kinect Joy Ride is a casual racing title in the spirit of Sega’s Crazy Taxi. The show also featured an Ubisoft fitness title – Your Shape: Fitness Evolved – which looked amazing, but you can easily see where that idea came from. What will separate it will likely be the fact that the Kinect device will sense when your form fails you and instruct you on how to correct it.
There are many more Kinect titles being previewed on the larger E3 show floor, so stay tuned to Blast for more info and hands-on reports as they come in.