Microsoft put on an extravagant show to unveil the real name of Project Natal which was sort of rained on by USA Today publishing the name on their website. This ultimately made the show rather pointless yet it was a good show none the less.
Held in a USC auditorium, Microsoft brought in the talents of Cirque Du Soleil to push their theme of Kinect being a natural progression in the technological chain with no instrument between gamer and game. At the entrance of the building the press were greeted to jungle like set pieces, large drums, and dancers. Inside we were asked to dawn a white, shiny set of bulky shoulder pads who’s purpose was left to our imagination. We were then directed to choose a path which eventually led us to the entrance of a family’s living room. There were different ethnic rooms for each path so that the experience was not the same, one such path led to a room with a Spanish speaking family that greeted you and made you feel welcome. From there we were all herded into a converted gym that resembled something that you would find in the Rainforest Cafe. A good number of people were already seated, filler crowd presumably, with all of the press on the gym floor.
In short, the dancers were entertaining, the presentation was amusing, and the display that Microsoft showed off wasn’t all that impressive. Press and audience was treated to a light show and a simulated run of Kinect with the performers doing their best to be realistic. The games consisted of avatar activities from Olympic games to racing, to interactions with virtual animals like Milo. One game, a mine cart/raft racer was particularly choppy and didn’t seem to respond all too well with the sudden movements. In total the games appeared to be nothing more than the likes of Wii Sports Resort or Wii fit. However with the theme that Microsoft was going for, family fun and interactivity, they did a good job of showing just how easy it was to jump in.
While the quality of the games wasn’t all that great the target audience they were going for was very clear, casual. Both Microsoft and Sony have set their sights on taking a large portion of the casual gaming audience with Kinect and move, respectively. So far they have done a pretty good job with showing how much like the Wii they can emulate, with their own person touches, but Microsoft still has a lot of work to do with the hardcore crowd in convincing them why not having a controller in your hand is a good thing.
Image Source: Joystiq