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Talking To The TV, The Future Of Kinect

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Well what a day yesterday turned out to be! PSVita is unveiled in all its glory with a promising line-up of titles, a new Halo trilogy comes to lights and, surprise surprise, motion-based gaming takes it to the next level. I was dreading something like this happening, but actually the results look far more interesting than I imagined.

Two of the most impressive looking titles shown yesterday were Mass Effect 3 and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Both were shown with Microsoft’s Kinect being used to perform some very, and I mean VERY, impressive stuff.GR:FS had a fantastic looking demonstration with Ubisoft’s Yves Guillemot talking the audience through how the player will not only be able to customise weapons, but he will be able to do it à la Tony Stark from Iron Man; by placing his hands close together and moving them apart, giving an exploded view of the gun. Next, individual parts of the weapon can be selected using hand gestures or voice commands. At any point the player can take his customised gun for a test run on the firing range by miming taking the gun from over his shoulder. This level of customisation not for you? No problem, simply say: “optimise for range” and the game will create a sniper rifle for you, and so on for close quarters combat or, presumably, any other weapon types or statistics in the game. When finished, place hands far apart and bring together to see the gun reassemble itself.

This is all very impressive and I can almost guarantee that whoever buys this game will spend a while revelling in the awesomeness of fantasy tech being at their fingertips. The only cloud tainting the silver lining seems to be the firing method. Clearly, Kinect is accurate but still cannot detect the subtle movement of a trigger finger, so instead, firing the gun requires the player to open his hand and show the flat of his palm to Kinect. This movement fires the weapon. This could grow tiresome and most definitely does not add to immersion in the game. Still, it’s a darned sight more immersive than slobbing it in an armchair with a controller between your hands, so who am I to complain?

ME3 will allow the player to control a lot more of the gameplay using his voice. The audience was treated to a demonstration where the player chooses the line of dialogue and reads it out instead of just selecting the option on screen whenever the prompt comes up. Voice commands will be useable in combat as well, allowing the player to position his teammates by actually telling them to move forward.

This all looks fantastic at first glance, but once the novelty wears off how many of us will be in our front rooms, bedrooms and college dorms issuing commands to the screen in front of us? How receptive will it be under normal circumstances? Will ambient city noise on a hot summer’s day affect the functionality? It all remains to be seen, but let it be said that for the first time in my life I am looking at a Microsoft console and working out how long I’ll have to save before I can afford one.

Video games were a part of Chris's life from the Mega Drive onwards. He has many happy gaming memories, including the first time he collected all the chaos emeralds in Sonic 2, collecting all SSBM's trophies (yes, all of them) and, more recently, collecting far too many platinum trophies on his PlayStation 3. In the real world, he has a degree in French and is currently living in Frankfurt, Germany. Follow him on Twitter @DPrime_Chris

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