Now the E3 dust has settled I’ve had some time to pick through the remains and see what was most exciting from a family gaming perspective. First off I thought I’d look at the Kinect games that really stood out – and for me this was all about real game play rather than additional modes or novelty interfaces:
Leedmees uses your body to guide its hapless tiny travelers home. While this full-body iteration of Lemmings meets Twister is perfectly pitched and well executed, the real excitement is the theater it creates in your living room.
Leedmees is a fresh little Kinect game where you control a silhouette figure that mirrors your movements. Standing the full height of the screen you use this giant to help some diminutive beings towards their home.
To get the little guys from their blue spawn point to the red home you simple move your limbs into position to act as platforms or lifts. A very cute little touch is that if you extend your arm towards them they will even jump up for a ride.
Fable: The Journey turns gestures into emotions with an intelligent and whimsical take on Kinect gameplay. It manages to retain enough of the spirit and landscape of Albion to feel like a fully fledged experience.
Fable has always been about relationships and choices. Although at first glance Fable: The Journey looks like an on-rails party game for Kinect, a closer inspection reveals something very different.
Kinect Disneyland Adventures pulls off a totally controller-less open world adventure without being over complicated or confusing.
At first sight I’ll admit I had dismissed Kinect Disneyland Adventures as some sort of on-rails mini game collection. It wasn’t until I spent some proper time with the game that I realized how wrong I was.
In fact, Disneyland Adventures is an explorable open world set in a Disney theme park that can be explored and interacted with totally via the Kinect controller. You hold your hand out to move in a particular direction and execute particular gestures to cast spells, interact with Disney characters and take pictures.
Mass Effect 3‘s appearance at E3 didn’t surprise me — but what did was the way a very simple implementation of voice technology suddenly opened my eyes to how this epic RPG universe could suddenly become a drama in which I was truly taking part.
At Microsoft’s E3 presentation we were given the chance to see some action from the upcoming Mass Effect 3 – featuring a return of Shepherd and a host of new tricks. Bioware and Microsoft are making a big thing of Kinect-enhancement of games this year. We’ve already seen a lot of Kinect-specific titles — largely focusing on the sports and dancing possibilities of the full-body tracking technology — but this year could be the time we finally see how Kinect enhancements can offer a greater feeling of immersion to more traditional gaming titles.
Mass Effect 3 makes use of the voice recognition capabilities of Kinect to allow the player to control the game with speech. There are voice activated commands to choose weapons and select attacks during combat, as you would expect. But it was the addition of voice selection during the dialogue sequences that had a profound impact on me and my expectations.
The Gunstringer is an upcoming XBLA Wild West revenge story featuring a Kinect-controlled undead sheriff marionette. With some of the most ambitious Kinect controls I’ve seen there is enough complexity here to challenge core gamers, and enough novelty to keep the kids enthralled.
One of the more unique offerings announced so far for Kinect, alongside the Sesame Street (Kinect) game, The Gunstringer is a fully controller-free game to test your puppeteering and quick draw shooting skills. The puppet cast will act out a tale of revenge, action and romance on a theater-style stage.
Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster may sound like a franchise led game, but in fact promises to be another nugget of imaginative genius from Double Fine. The combination of their theatrical storytelling with Kinect-led gameplay is just as significant as the Sesame Street branding.
Double Fine had publishing woes with Brutal Legend, their response was to kick back and let creativity rule in their Amnesia Fortnight. Costume Quest and Stacking were the first two games to emerge from this unusual approach to game development. The third is just as unusual and maybe even more exciting: Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster for Xbox Kinect.
Kinect Sports Season 2 expands its repertoire of motions and sports. Walking the line between simplicity of Kinect and a genuine videogame challenge is no easy matter, but Season 2 looks like it will continue the first game’s success in this respect.
Seeing my much toiled over virtual self moving in time with my own body on screen is simply a magical experience that always makes me smile. There is such a strong sense of connection between the player and the game because everything you do, your on screen character matches.
Kinect Sports Season 2 takes this approach but greatly expands the number of gestures it can recognize. A year with the hands-free controller means that Rare (and other 360 developers) is getting a much better idea of how to get the most out of it.