Saturday 19 June 2010

Kinect/Move/PSN Plus/The Future


So Sony and Microsoft will be launching their versions of movement controllers before Xmas this year.  Exciting?  Well yes, no and maybe.

Nintendo showed the other console manufacturers how motion controllers could tap into a more casual gaming market and they were clearly envious as unit after unit flew off the shelves.  The Wii is hugely inferior to it's counterparts, low res visuals, no hard drive, poor internet gaming facilities, it is, basically, a Gamecube with some flashy tech to make the motion controllers work.

What Sony and Microsoft are hoping is that they can bring high def graphics to motion control and take a slice of the casual game market that Nintendo have been dominating in recent years.

Kinect looks, on the face of it the most intriguing of the new products.  Using a camera you simply don't hold anything in your hands, the Xbox will follow your movements.  Now that sounds great but for me it's almost a step too far.  I don't really want to be limited by my own physicality and fucked up knee when I'm gaming.  Using a controller lets me be the characters I'm playing, whether that's Nando in FIFA or Batman in Arkham Asylum, without having to have any of their skills.  Gaming is escapism for me.

Kinect promises greater interactivity and that's not a bad thing, demo's have shown people talking to characters on their 360s and that looks interesting but essentially it's for kids, hardcore gamers are going to be far more interested to see how/if this can be implemented into something like Call of Duty.

Playstation Move

Sony are replicating the Nintendo controllers for the PS3 and they promise pixel perfect accuracy and of course hi def visuals.  It's not going to be packaged with the console though so they're clearly seeing it as a bolt on.  Which means in order for any of the games to sell they need people to buy the additional tech before hand.  It's a risky move and is going to be highly reliant on the games being superb and the big developers producing quality product beyond a really cool tennis game.

On top of that Sony have announced PSN Plus, a new paid for online service which will sit alongside the existing PSN offer.  This is the best news to come out of E3 and a shrewd move by Sony.  I expect many will take up the deal which, although similar in pricing to Microsoft, will offer exclusives such as free DLC and opportunities to BETA test new product.  It also gives players choice and access to product for free that otherwise you would pay for.  If you download a lot from the PSN it will look like a no brainer, if your more casual with your gaming then stick as you are.

The Future though will kick all of the above into touch because the future is 3D.  I saw Motorstorm and Super Stardust HD running this week and the difference in experience is far greater than waggling a stick or your arm at a TV.  Bit's of dust flying past your face, real depth to the environments.  It's going to be  a while before 3D TV's are truly affordable at a decent size, so don't expect to see 3D gaming reviews here any time soon but Killzone 3 and Gran Turismo are already coming, with 3D built in from the start.  Sony may just get the jump on their rivals here, DVD simply isn't going to cut it for 3D on Xbox.  Will we see a Microsoft machine using BluRay soon?  Very possibly.  The only problem I can see with 3D is that the glasses burn through power in about an hour and a half and I find I have a headache after about 30 seconds, although that may just be my dodgy eyes.

The second half of this year is going to be an interesting one.  Will Sony and Microsoft finally swat the irritation of the Wii with their new toys or will everyone just shrug their collective shoulders and remember that Wii Fit board gathering dust under the television stand?  Time will tell.

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