The Microsoft stand at E3 dedicated a large amount of their space to Kinect and featured 'fish-bowl' like pods for live demonstrations. Although it was a great way for everyone to see Kinect in action, it also meant that you were waving your arms and legs around like an idiot in front of tens of thousands of spectators. But I took it all in my stride in order to report back on three Kinect titles coming soon to the Xbox 360.
Inside the Kinect Pod #5 I was amazed to see Scott Wilson ready to greet me after remembering me from last year's E3 when I spoke to him about Kinect pre-launch. Wilson has recently moved to the UK in order to lend his expertise to Rare's upcoming Kinect Sports: Season 2. This time around, the game will include golf, American Football, skiing, darts and baseball.
Wilson, who had recently enjoyed a holiday to New Zealand with his family, was able to show me two of Season 2's sports - golf and American Football. Golf was an obvious choice oddly missing from the original Kinect Sports and suits the motion control software perfectly. Apart from the basic swinging action (Kinect supports both left and right handed players), the game also has other gestures programmed in, such as raising your hand to your brow to look out at the course.
Kinect Sports 2 also adds in voice recognition, so players can simply say the type of club they want and it will be selected, as if you have a caddie by your side handing you one. Shifting your body angle lets you line up the shot and the Kinect camera does a good job of judging the strength of your shot by how fast and full your swinging action is.
Next up was American Football, and acknowledging NZ's general lack of familiarity with this sport, he asked me to forget everything I knew about rugby. The two of us teamed up to attempt to score a touch-down with one of us hiking and throwing the ball and the other receiving. Before each play, the user can select from a variety of different tactics outlining the receiver's run, the amount of risk involved and the distance that can be covered if pulled off correctly. The thrower then crouches, yells 'hike!' to receive the ball and then has to physically throw an invisible ball to their runner. Getting the right angle and distance on the throw is essential to a successful catch. Also timing your throw so that your runner is free of a blocker is equally vital and holding onto the ball too long will result in you getting smashed as defenders close in.
The receiver's job isn't that complicated and they don't need to do anything until the ball is automatically caught once a good throw is made. At this point though, they can jog on the spot to increase the runner's speed and even jump to dodge defenders trying to tackle them. After a few attempts, Wilson and I were one play short with some distance to the end zone to go so we decided to go for a field-goal kick to get points on the table. Kicking the ball at the right time was tricky however as the moment in which you kick is nowhere near what is happening onscreen. For example players will need to kick while their avatar is running up to the ball, rather than when you would logically think to kick.
Although the American Football was a mixed bag (and probably affected by my lack of knowledge of the sport), the golf was a solid addition to the sequel. The other sports such as skiing and darts should definitely prove to be well suited for Kinect and baseball might just hit the mark too. As soon as we get our hands on more, we'll be sure to let you know.
The Good: Five new sports to play.
The Bad: No three-legged race yet.
The Ugly: Pulling a hammy at E3.