After an Italian ad accidentally let slip the existence of the Kinect, Microsoft decided to embrace the early announcement instead of waiting further into E3.
The Kinect was originally named “Project Naval,” so kudos to Microsoft for choosing a less lame name for launch. What the Microsoft Kinect does is watch your actions through a camera and translate them to your avatar on the screen. It’s like Wii without the Wii remote- you’re fully interacting as your character. Other features include photo and video sharing along with Video Chat, where you can conference with up to four people at a time.
I’m not entirely sure how this will translate with games. From what I’ve heard, the Star Wars game shown had a pretty awesome demonstration, with the user playing a Jedi. You get to wield a few force powers and tear through Storm Troopers before battling a Sith one on one. However, I’m sure there will be a learning curve- different gestures make different moves and I’m sure certain gestures will be similar.
There’s no definite on how much the Kinect will cost just yet, but rumors are circulating that the piece of equipment will be in the $150 range. Games are already in development for the Kinect, including a sports game called Kinect Sports, a Star Wars game (as stated earlier), a yoga game, and Kinectimals, where you can play with and teach your own digital pets.
The announcement ceremony was quite the spectacle, with Cirque-like dancers dressed as nymphs and reporters forced to wear polyester “futuristic” ponchos with triangular shoulder pads. Was this to distract the crowd from realizing that Microsoft is turning the Xbox into the Wii or just to try and embarrass the press? I guess we’ll find out closer to the actual launch of the Kinect (which hasn’t been announced just yet).