With the launching of both Microsoft Kinect (nee Natal) and Sony PlayStation Move at E3 2010, all three big video games console players are into the motion control business and, if you’d always quite admired what the Nintendo Wii could do, you might suddenly find yourself in a confusion, which is the right system for you.
As ever, we at Pocket-lint don’t like to leave you stewing in your own juices for long – juicy as you are – so here’s a brief run down of what to expect from each of the three companies and a little insight as to who each one might be aimed at.
The camera is key to Kinect as it’s the fundemental of how the whole system works. The Kinect bar has an array of three of them lined up which are able to track a staggering 48 skeletal points of the human body, meaning that it can sense motion down to the level of individual finger movements.
It can track four users at the same time, it includes face recognition software, runs at 30fps and can be used for video chats over the internet with other Xbox users as well as those on Windows Live on their PCs too.
The PlayStation Move controller relies on working in tandem with the PlayStation Eye USB camera in order to provide tight gesture tracking and control. There’s just the one lens running at 120fps at a resolution of 320x240px or 60fps at 640x480px but you can still capture video and stills as well as edit what you store as well.
No video element to the Wii at all, so you’ll get no video chats and no image capturing either.
Details on how it works and how many audio sensors there are, are light but, yes, there is full voice control with Kinect for in-game and menus and, of course, the microphone system can be used in the video chat as well.
The PlayStation Eye accessory that’s needed to make the system work has a four-way microphone array that’s able to ignore background noise and focus in on speech as well as cancel out the effects of echoes. It claims voice recognition but whether that’s at the level of detail of specific individuals is not known yet. What Sony has said is that you can hold conversations with up to 6 people at the same time – presuming that you actually have that many friends, of course.
Talk all you like but the Wii isn’t going to listen. You can, of course, buy a microphone for specific voice games but neither the Wiimote nor the machine itself have any built-in.
There are no controllers needed for Kinect, or rather, the only controller you need is you. That’s the magic of it. If you want to drive a car, you put your hands on an imaginary steering wheel. You want to shoot a gun, you make like you used to with your finger when you were in the playground. You want to do the Funky Chicken…you get the point.
Of course, that does mean that you actually need to run furiously up and down on the spot in athletics games. Have fun with that.
The PlayStation Move controller is more an evolution of the Wiimote than something entirely ground-breaking in its own right but that’s no reason not to be impressed. Looking rather like a toy microphone or baton for guiding aeroplanes, it consists of a grip with the four PlayStation buttons, a single Move button, a trigger button, vibration feedback, and an LED sphere, the top of which you can change the colour.
The exact size and lighting of the sphere is known by the PlayStation Eye and so the machine can easily track the position of the controller with high levels of accuracy and low latency. The Move itself contains two three-axis motion sensors – one an accelerometer for speed of movement analysis and the other a rate sensor for gyroscopic measurements – as well as a magnetometer for a reading of your position relative to the surface of the Earth.
It runs on a Li-ion battery which you can charge by a USB cable connected to the main machine and it sends its sensory input to the console over Bluetooth. You can connect four Move controllers to any one PS3 at a time.
As with the Wii, there is a supplementary controller for the off-hand known as the Navigation controller. There’s no glowing orb on top but there’s both a d-pad and analogue stick added as well as the X and O PS buttons and the L1 and L2 triggers too.
The Wii Remote has two-axis motion detection and a gyroscope for picking up rotational movement. It connects to the main box via Bluetooth and requires AA batteries to keep it running. For the non-motion games, it also has a full Nintendo d-pad controller and buttons on each one and you can extend the functionality with the Nunchuk which adds an analogue joystick and off-hand motion sensor.
It’s hard to accessorise for a controller that doesn’t exist in the first place but what probably passes for Kinect’s version of this is the object recognition facility. There’s little that’s been demonstrated on this front as yet but we know that you’ll be able to use real word objects and bring these “magic objects” into your virtual play.
Sony has announced it will be offering a PlayStation Move charging station that will let users charge up to two PlayStation Move controllers. The charging station will become available concurrently with the motion controller launch in each region at a RRP of 29.99 euros and US$29.99.
As well as that, for Socom and Killzone 3 players, there will be a PlayStation Move shooting attachment “shooting attachment”, designed to place the PlayStation Move motion controller horizontally, will allow players to hold the motion controller as if they are holding a gun and to easily aim at an in-game target. The trigger on the attachment is interlocked with the motion controller T button and will enable users to intuitively play the game, not only limited to shooting games but also on games that may require precise button input and control. The “shooting attachment” will become available starting this autumn in each region at a RRP of 14.99 euros and US$19.99.
Like them or loathe them, the Wii has bags and bags and bags and bags and cupboards absolutely dammed up to the hinges with gaming controller accessories. If you want bowling balls, rifles, skateboards, dumbells and all sorts of other bits of plastic lying round your house, then the Wii is most definitely the one for you.
There’s nothing official from the ‘Soft just yet but word on the street is that the Kinect add-on will be around £100 in the UK and $150 US. If you happen to need a console as well, then you may as well pick up the Xbox 360 Slim to go with it giving a total price of £299 or $449.
SCEE in the UK has yet to announce a price for the Move controller but we do know that it’ll set you back $49.99 with the optional navigation controller at $29.99. In Europe it will be €39.99 euros and €29.99 respectively. It will be sold with a Sports game as a pack for $99.99 but, of you need a PS3 as well, then the whole lot will bundle up at $399.99.
Prices might well come down in the face of the competition but, at the time of writing, you’re looking at around £160 for a Wii console with WiiMote, Nunchuck and WiiSports game. Perhaps not as advanced as the other systems but certainly the least expensive.
There’s no need to buy a new system especially to get Kinect to work. So long as you have any old kind of Xbox 360, then you can plug the accessory in and get it running. The only difference is that you’ll have to plug the Kinect camera into a wall socket as well as your Xbox if you don’t own one of the new Slims. There just isn’t enough power running the older machines to supply the Kinect as well.
Again, Sony has been shrewd enough not to make Move an expensive or elitist product, so anyone with a PS3 of any kind – slim or otherwise – will be able to use the new motion controllers without a problem.
There might be someone out there who’s somehow managed to hack a SNES, 64 or a Cube to work with a Wiimote but the quick answer here is no. Buy a Wii and use it like a Wii.
Microsoft has confirmed that the launch date for Kinect in the US will be 4 November with the UK release “to follow shortly”. At a guess, that’ll be no more than a week or two later but, to be on the safe side, let’s just say well in time for Christmas.
This time it’s those across the Pond who’ll have to wait with launch of the PlayStation Move on 15 September in the UK and 19 September in the States. Either way, of course, you’ll be getting your hands on it well in advance of Kinect. Will the head start be key to its success?
Just in case you’ve been living in a cupboard in darkest Peru for the last three years, the Nintendo Wii has been out and available for quite some time. There’s a hat full of reviews you might want to take in before you buy but, naturally, the only one that counts is this one.
There have been 15 games announced as Kinect compatible so far. They are: Adrenalin Misfits, Dance Central, Dance Masters, Deca Sports Freedom, EA Sports Active 2, Game Party In Motion, Kinect Adventures, Kinect Joy Ride, Kinect Sports, Kinectimals, Motion Sports, Sonic Free Riders, The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, Zumba Party, Milo and Kate, Child of Eden, Fable 3, Forza Motosport and the crowd pleasure that was a mystery Star Wars title where you actually get to take on Darth Vader mano a mano.
Games so far announced that require the Move system are: SingStar Dance, Start the Party, Brunswick Pro Bowling, Sports Champions, Heroes on the Move, TV Superstars, Sorcery and The Shoot. Those that can feature the Move if you wish are: Socom 4, Thje Fight: Lights Out, EyePet, Time Crisis Razing Storm, The Sly Collection, LittleBigPlanet 2, Kung Fu Rider, Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition, Tiger Woods 11 and Heavy Rain.
We’re not going to list all the titles available for the Wii. You’ve probably got a pretty decent idea of what’s out there for Nintendo’s machine but, if you don’t, this should give you some idea. Suffice to say, there’s plenty.
From our hands on time with Kinect at E3, we very quickly discovered how much fun Microsoft’s new toy is. At the danger of spoiling what what’s written below, it’s everything the Wii is only more accurate and without all the dated plastic junk that goes with it. There’s an obvious and highly enjoyable magic about controlling the game in thin air and it’s the kind of thing that’ll wow mums, dads and even grandparents in the comfort of your own front room.
There are two words that will go over and over in your heads as you use the Move and that’s “precise” and “exact” or colloquial variations thereof. Because of the controllers in your hand, it doesn’t have the magic of Kinect but there’s no lag and the handling and proper gameplay is excellence itself. It’s everything the Wii just isn’t any more.
The nails are rather in the coffin of the Wii now that, particularly the Move, has arrived. It’s reasonably good at executing your will on screen but the cursor has always been a touch laggy and slightly shaky as well. When Nintendo upgrades the system, doubtless the gameplay will improve as well but, right now, it’s just a much older console
Sony has been quite open it its criticism of Microsoft and Kinect but rather than take this as saying that one system is better than the other, it’s really more of a highlight as to the different market that the two companies are hoping to corner, for better or for worse.
With only a four-year-old console to do battle with, it’s a little cruel to include the Wii in this contest. Yes, it was the daddy on the motion controlling front but the Move simply teaches it a lesson in precision, accuracy and gameplay excitement for the while – at least until Nintendo ups its ante, which doubtless it will at some point in the future.
Interestingly, it’s Microsoft that seems to have picked up the Wii’s mantle rather than Sony, despite, perhaps, the closer connection that the Move system has with Nintendo’s.
Pricing is relatively similar across the board but Kinect seems more focused on the fun, family market while Move is aimed at the more hardcore gamers. The precision accuracy and exact control of the latter lends itself to in-depth shooters and action games whereas the magic of the no-hands Microsoft Kinect suits multiplay amusement and a thorough thrill of enjoyment. How they cope with the same third party title, though, might be the real test to wait for.
For a closer look at our hands on first look at E3 click Kinect or Move and until they’ve all arrived for us to have a proper play with, what are your thoughts? Which one are you going to go with and would you consider switching systems from the one you already have?
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