Xbox woes + Child of Eden review

Today I’m a little sick so I haven’t been able to do anything really productive. In addition to being sick, Comcast today decided that my internet was going to be really slow, which also limits the things that I can do at home (which includes working on my robot project, as I decided that I had to update my kernel and I can’t seem to be able to download it – but I’ll get to more of that once I figure out what is going on).

Well, one of the things that I wanted to do was to play Child of Eden. That’s one of the most hyped non-Microsoft Kinect games that is supposed to show the capabilities of the Kinect in game immersion. So, what is my conclusion? It ended up showing more issues with the Kinect than actually providing game immersion. For me to explain the issues, I have to start by explaining how the game works.

It’s actually a pretty simple game. You have three types of “actions”:

  1. Target and shoot: you move you right hand to target and then move it back quickly to shoot. You can target a limited number of things at once.
  2. Fast shot: when you target with your left hand you get a target that keeps shooting intermittently. It’s a weaker shot.
  3. Euphoria: it’s a “bomb everybody” type element that you do by raising both your arms at the same time.

The main thing of the game is the visual and the music. Things react to your actions and you get different synchronized music based on what you do. And some people seem really excited about it. However, I don’t really care about the music or the visuals, I care whether it’s fun to play. And that’s where the Kinect gets in the way.

The Kinect seems to sometimes have a hard time to track my hand movements when it passes my body. So hitting something on the left side with my right arm doesn’t always work. The target becomes unsteady. The same thing about the right side with my left arm.

Also, sometimes it doesn’t understand when I move my right hand back quickly, so I end up having to do it multiple times and that doesn’t work when the game is very time-sensitive.

So the final conclusion was that I had to move to using the controller instead of Kinect to play it. And suddenly the game became much more playable! With one final annoyance: if you die you are put back at the beginning of the level, a game design decision that I thought was gone from games a long time ago. After playing it for maybe one hour, I ejected it, and I’m sending it back to GameFly.

Which reminded me of the second Xbox woes that I wanted to talk about. As I’ve mentioned, internet here at home has been really slow. That’s why I decided to play with my console, as it’s an offline game. Well, try to turn on the Xbox when the internet is slow… You will see an initialization symbol rotating for a lot of time trying to connect you to Xbox Live. And this is before I could do anything about it. And the same happened when Child of Eden tried to recognize me using the facial recognition on the Kinect. A lot of waiting for it to later say it can’t connect to the service.

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