BODY TALK Kinect, the more intriguing of this fall’s new motion-control technologies, launches November 4 with two mini-game collections.
This November marks the fifth anniversary of Microsoft's Xbox 360 console, and four years since the launch of Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii. Yet there's no Xbox 720, PlayStation 4, or Super Wii anywhere in sight. Instead of new systems, Microsoft and Sony are both releasing ambitious peripherals, which take a page from Nintendo's playbook to provide players with more-intuitive motion-controlled input.
First out of the gate is Sony's PLAYSTATION MOVE (September 19) . Like the now familiar Nintendo Wii controls, the Move consists of three components: a navigational controller, a motion controller, and a sensor (in this case, a camera called the PlayStation Eye). All three devices can be purchased separately: the motion controller for about $50, the navigational controller for about $30, and the Eye for about $40.
Because Sony has been keen to play down comparisons between Move and the Wii, it's made the brave decision to package Move with, uh, a collection of sports-themed mini-games. Like Wii Sports, Sony's SPORTS CHAMPIONS is intended to showcase the versatility of the hardware rather than provide a deep gameplay experience. Retailers will offer a bundle with all three Move components, plus Sports Champions, for $99.
For more-compelling original Move software, you'll have to wait a month. TIME CRISIS: RAZING STORM, a frenetic arcade shooter, arrives on October 19. THE FIGHT: LIGHTS OUT, a boxing game, is due October 26, along with LITTLEBIGPLANET 2, which provides even more options for user-created content than its predecessor did.
Some existing PlayStation 3 games can be updated to include Move support thanks to a downloadable patch. Among them is HEAVY RAIN, so far the best game of 2010; its simple control inputs are likely to be enhanced by motion control. Capcom's RESIDENT EVIL 5 should also see improvement, much as Resident Evil 4 benefitted from the switch from the Nintendo GameCube to the Wii.
Microsoft is countering with KINECT, a device that senses not a remote but the player's entire body. Boasting the ability to track as many as six players at once, Kinect is the more intriguing of these new technologies, though its utility is still unclear. Like Move, Kinect will launch with mini-game collections intended to show off the range of its capabilities and including — yes —KINECT SPORTS and KINECT ADVENTURES. The Kinect launches on November 4 for $150, with Kinect Adventures included.
The most tantalizing Kinect title is DANCE CENTRAL, a dancing simulator from Harmonix that also arrives on November 4. Harmonix's musical pedigree is well established (it created the first two Guitar Hero games and the Rock Band series), but the Cambridge-based studio also has experience with motion control. Its AntiGrav was a fun, hands-free racing game for the PlayStation 2, years before motion control became standard.
But Harmonix hasn't forgotten about its bread and butter. Coming on October 26 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii, ROCK BAND 3 adds a keyboard part — a welcome addition, if not a surprising one. The real shake-up is the new Pro mode, which will see a one-to-one correspondence between the notes on screen and the player's input. This means accurate cymbal strikes for the drum kit, and a new six-string-guitar peripheral.