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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews the Kinect.

Transcript Edit

There are only so many pretend human beings I can pretend to murder before I start getting pretend jaded, which is like normal jaded but you sort of ironically roll your eyes while you're doing it. So let's take a break from shooters this week. I have a lingering thread to resolve before the pre-Christmas release glut really kicks in.

Now, there's nothing worse than people who contemn from ignorance, with the possible exception of people who attempt to masturbate their sexual partners after eating buffalo wings. You'd call the Conservative party a bunch of out of touch old scrotes, but it'd be slightly hypocritical if you don't at least take the time to take a few of them mini-golfing. And while I was able to deduce that the Microsoft Kinect would be a crap gaming system simply by using my magnificent brain, I recently picked one up anyway, because Pope Urban VIII probably thought he was very clever when he condemned Galileo, but who got the last laugh there? Well, he did, when Galileo died in poverty and dishonor, but what I'm saying is that I'm basically like the Pope.

What's always been the problem with the Wii is the lack of physical feedback. You'd swing your little white dongle and Link would swing his sword, but maybe his sword would glance off a wall or piece of armor and yours would keep going, flying right out of your hand and embedding itself in the cat. The Kinect is all of that with no controller and therefore even less feedback and slightly healthier cats. But I'd be lying if I said that there wasn't appeal in the idea of sifting through interfaces by making regal, dismissive gestures from my couch, like with those computers in Minority Report.

But if the Kinect is like the computers from Minority Report, then that explains why they cast Tom Cruise in that film. I have a decent-sized living room, and I couldn't get further away from the sensor without physically merging with my couch, and it'd still have trouble reading all six foot five inches of solidified handsome. Most crushingly, it threw a hissy fit if I tried using it sitting down, 'cause to the sensor, me sitting down might as well have been me having recently fallen off a fifty-story building. No one can get immersed in a game while standing up, except maybe the guards at Buckingham Palace.

First of all, I tried out Child of Eden, the polygon murder spree from the creators of polygon murder spree Rez, essentially a rail shooter about the Internet being under attack by an amassed army of forgotten screensavers. Certainly a spectacular display, but even a cosmic dance with a hundred large-breasted space fish loses something when you have to replay it for the third time 'cause you weren't clear on what you supposed to be doing. Yeah, I know, game, use my left hand to shoot down the purple projectiles before they hit me. Now, in what specific way did you envision me using my left hand, 'cause that could mean anything from waving it to sticking a bowling pin up a gorilla's arse.

Eventually I figured out that "use" meant "do the same thing you do with the right hand to use your normal weapon but keep your right hand pinned to your side because I might think you're trying to strangle me and go into a panic." And even then, the usual delay motion sensors have before registering your action led to several frustrating game overs, and every now and again the game would pause itself right as it was getting excited, because it assumes that any ambiguity of motion on your part means that you have been suddenly abducted by space monsters.

But doing panicky, improvised Tai chi to amuse graph paper is not gaming. It's more like therapy for geometry phobics. So let's move on to how the Kinect does with an actual gamer game, Rise of Nightmares, which seemed like exactly my kind of thing: dark, grungy horror like the kind one gets cleaning in between the bathroom tiles after you put it off for three years.

You play a character whose name I forget, so we'll just call him Phineas K. Douchenstein, who's riding a train through Europe with his sexy wife when it crashes in the middle of nowhere and the wife is kidnapped and taken to a nearby Gothic castle, and your only option is to go off in pursuit while all around you young attractive people with a broad variety of European accents get murdered in nasty ways. So basically it's Donkey Kong as directed by Eli Roth if he spent most of the production locked in his trailer playing Resident Evil 4. The main villain turns out to be a mad scientist who kidnaps people to replace their body parts with machinery, and somehow he must have done this to you before the game even began, because you control like you've been partially merged with a forklift.

It's entirely Kinect controlled, but they had to figure out a way for you to request movement without leaving the one square centimeter of floor it's happy for you to stand on, so to move forward you put one foot in front of the other and to turn you rotate you shoulders like a passive-aggressive depressed person who has been dragged onto a dance floor. And I don't know if you've ever tried standing off-balance for as long as it takes to drive a very slow forklift down a corridor, especially when you're top-heavy like me and my aforementioned magnificent brain, but after a couple of hours of play my feet felt like I'd been trying to riverdance down Giant's Causeway. And after spending all that time extending a hand at full arm's length to open doors or hoping I'm making the right kind of wild flails to make Phineas K. Douchenstein smack zombies in the unarmored parts, my shoulders ached from all the enforced physical activity with none of the gratification I'd have had if I'd spent the same energy wanking.

Thinking about it, maybe there is something to be said for a survival horror game that become genuinely physically painful to play. You can't say it's off-message, but I doubt Health and Safety would see it that way. Otherwise, the game occasionally limbers up your stiffened muscles with a nice, traditionally quick-time event, generally ducking or sidestepping to avoid a surprise trap. Wait, sidestepping? You throw a fucking shit fit if I'm more than six inches to either side of where I was when I started playing, game. Where am I supposed to sidestep to? Or do I cock a leg out to one side like I'm pissing on a fire hydrant?

You know, funnily enough, I actually quite like the game's atmosphere, and it's not incompetently paced. I could get into it if I could use a controller that didn't give me veruccas. But the environments are kind of small, so if I could just pop out my slow-ass forklift and jog to the exit, then it'd probably lose a lot of its pacing.

I think it's a mistake to entirely control a game like this with Kinect. Motion controls haven't gotten any less unimmersive now that it can vaguely tell whether or not you're trying to strangle yourself. But if you had a game that mostly used a normal controller but there where one or two nonessential things you could do by doing a little noncommitted gesture from your couch, that might add something. Like maybe if it was just for spellcasting or brushing curtains aside or greeting people in the street when you're only vaguely certain that you know them.

AddendaEdit

A mover and a shaker: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

If people have to dance it should be in an environment where they can be judged and mocked by their peers

Exercise is for people who intend to live past forty


ScreenshotsEdit

Kinect 2

I couldn't get further away from the sensor without physically merging with my couch

Kinect 3

Now, in what specific way did you envision me using my left hand?

Kinect 4

I think it's a mistake to entirely control a game like this with Kinect

External LinksEdit

Kinect

Child of Eden

Rise of Nightmares

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
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2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
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2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
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Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe

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