The bad news for Xbxo 360's core gamers is that Microsoft's E3 press conference was heavily geared towards Kinect's casual audience, with the likes of “Kinect: Disneyland Adventures,” “Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster" and...wait for the groans, “Kinect Sports: Season Two" being key features. These games, however, will be just what families who have purchased Kinect will be waiting for; and in all fairness, my young daughter was jumping up and down with excitement at the thought of walking around a vitual Disneyland. I'm not complaining, because forking out £40 for the game is better than shelling out a few hundred to actually take her there.
A new Dance Central game is also, inevitably, in the making which is sure to delight those who enjoyed shaking their booties to the first critically-acclaimed game. From a personal point of view though, I've really been looking forward to seeing how, or if, Kinect will integrate with core, mature gaming experiences - after all that's what Xbox 360 was really all about when it launched, right? Well, there's some good news. The announcement of Kinect Star Wars was a welcome surprise, and though graphically it doesn't look amazing, it does suggest that Microsoft isn't going to forget its core audience. The implementation of Kinect in the new Ghost Recon Future Soldier looks particularly impressive; and if customising your weapon set-up instantly by speaking, or moving your hands is as smooth and quick as it looks it may well give Kinect owners an advantage on the battlefield -- that's exactly how Kinect can really engage core gamers.
Ubisoft's Splinter Cell will also receive the Kinect treatment, alongside Fable The Journey and Mass Effect 3, where players will be able to step into the role of Commander Shepherd and use their voices to interact with characters, rather than having to select options on the conversation wheel. Ubisoft is most certainly leading the way for Kinect implementation, with Ghost Recon Future Soldier looking remarkably impressive with Kinect, and if third-party developers follow their lead there's no reason mums, dads, children, teenagers - and those who have been gaming since the days of Chuckie Egg - can't all get something out of Kinect.
Voice search will also soon be 100% functional, rather than the half-baked experience that it currently is. Before Christmas, Microsoft promises us that if you say it, Xbox will find it immediately, regardless of where your favorite entertainment resides across Xbox Live. That's kind of how I envisioned the future when I was child; sitting on my arse commanding things to happen without lifting a finger -"Kinect sausage sandwich, and a can of Stella Cidre, please!" There's also Video Kinect, which will allow users to hook up instantly with anyone else who has Kinect to video chat without the need of a headset. That's a great function, especially for those who might have family overseas, but it does mean you might not want to lounge about in the living room in your pants too often in case you get a call.
Microsoft concluded its Kinect-focused conference with news that Kinect Labs is now available to download on Xbox 360. It's essentially a set of experiences that showcase Kinect's technology. The likes of 'Googly Eyes' allows you to scan an object (no, don't even think about waving your penis in front of that camera) and put a pair of googly eyes on it. You can then move around the screen, jump up and down and record your own skit and share it with other like-minded nutters on the official website, or just pals on your friends' list. You can create art with your fingers, transform yourself into a bobblehead, and bring your teddies to life by following a few simple steps. In truth, I've played each of these "games" a couple of times and I'm unlikely to play them again, but it's pretty cool technology and kids will no doubt love it. The most impressive aspect of Kinect Labs, however, is the ability to create an avatar that looks like you. Okay, so it's not exactly perfect - it makes you look slim when you're fat (wife loves that,) doesn't get your hairstyle right, and makes you look slightly more handsome/pretty then you really are - but it's far more accurate than trying to create an avatar that looks like yourself from scratch. It even scans in your clothes perfectly, so your avatar wears what you're wearing.
It's this gimmicky side of Kinect and its casual offerings where its future will undoubtedly lie, but it is looking increasingly like the core gamers won't get left out either. It's still not a brilliant time to invest in Kinect, but come the end of the year it could well be the perfect Christmas present.