British journalists got a chance to play a prototype game with Microsoft's motion control system and the verdict? Pain!
There have been so many words written about Microsoft's Project Natal. Will it revolutionize gaming or is it a hackneyed version of what the Wii already does? My favorite quote is from none other than Stephen Spielberg, who said, "I think what Microsoft is doing is not simply a case of re-inventing the wheel. It's a case of no wheel at all." But through it all, no one outside of Microsoft has really told us what it's like to actually play a game with Project Natal. Until now. A group of British journalists were able to play a game similar to Breakout with Natal and the most significant observation was that the experience was really, really exhausting.
Jonathan McCrea, from Ireland's Siliconrepublic.com, had this to say about his experience "playing a sort of single-player version of dodgeball."
The biggest difficulty playing Natal? Having enough physical stamina to play for longer than four or five minutes at a time. The demo game forces you to jump, punch and kick almost non-stop for around a minute - we found even five rounds exhausting.
While parents may rejoice at the health benefits of such active play, it's difficult to imagine the stereotypical Halo player jumping off his Lay Z Boy to do jumping jacks. It's fun, but it's tiring both physically and mentally: the novelty wears off quickly enough due to the limited scope of the demo.
While I don't appreciate the dig at gamers in comfy chairs (why wouldn't you game in the best possible position?), it's possible that Natal games may require just a little too much action. There are some Wii games that are certainly more fun to play standing up, but you don't have to play Tennis by wildly flailing your arms around. You can play them sitting down if you want. I'm not sure that Natal games will give you that option.
On the other hand, games like Punch Out or some minigames in Wii Sports Resort do get your blood pumping quite vigorously, so that isn't necessarily a problem.
I just have so many questions about Natal that just aren't being answered. For example, Erin Hofto from Microsoft said at the British press event that, "We're actually really not sure what games will be available [at release] yet. EA, Ubisoft, MTV Games and our other major software partners have had the technology since June so it will be really interesting to see what they come up with." Really? You have no idea what kind of games they're making?
Still, the technology of Natal is so promising, and it's a culmination of so many science-fiction ideas, that it's hard not be excited despite the dearth of concrete information. Hofto sums that sentiment up with this tidbit: "It's not just about games for us, it's about entertainment. For example, with Natal, a simple wave of the hand can control menus (just like in Minority Report, except you won't need Tom Cruise's glove). Voice control will allow you to pause and play videos and music by voice recognition; it's completely unlike anything out there in the market right now."
Um, yeah, that sounds awesome. Damn you, Microsoft!