Hands-Off Review of Natal

Greg Tito

PR for Dungeons & Dragons
Sep 29, 2005
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Hands-Off Review of Natal



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!

Source: Siliconrepublic [http://www.siliconrepublic.com/news/article/15353/new-media/project-natal-hands-on-review]

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Matt_LRR

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Nov 30, 2009
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Call me lazy if you will, but even the proper orientation to the screen and limited movement required by the Wii put me completely off of playing it. This description of the Natal experience is hardly selling me one.

-m
 

Greg Tito

PR for Dungeons & Dragons
Sep 29, 2005
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Hey, Jon McCrea!

I mutually know him!

OP: This proves what I've been saying, that Natal cannot be used as a standard game controller, because even a healthy human being can't stand up to that amount of activity unless it's a very repetitive action, like running or push ups.

Asking us to contemplate the dilemma of the besieged alien world and remember everything in the game while we're lunging at the screen is like asking you to summarize Immanuel Kant while being attacked by hornets.

This works okay with the wii, because the deep and more 'game like' of the games for it use the remote like an actual controller, as opposed to a remote. The ones that do use the remote exclusively are usually gimmicky and shallow.

The problem with Natal is that it doesn't have a 'basic' controller setting, it's constant physical movement, all the time. It's not conducive to good storytelling or complex gameplay elements, it just doesn't work that way. They're trying to emulate real life, but life is as based on physical sensations than it is on phsyical movement, and from my experience with the Wii, I imagine it will be VERY difficult to get sucked into a game when we're lunging around like goalkeepers. The only thing that you can hope for is that they don't promote it and feature it in proper games (i.e. not collections of minigames) exclusively, which they may have to do to recoup costs. If that happens, then the Xbox 360 may be doomed as anything resembling a console for engrossing, difficult gaming.

Well, that's my stream of consciousness rant for the day, now to go eat my 5 fruit and veg.
 

scotth266

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Jan 10, 2009
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Greg Tito said:
You have no idea what kind of games their making?
*coughs quietly*

I was always more interested in the Natal for the menu system than the games. Being able to act like you're in CSI Miami/the future when you're doing mundane menu stuff is just too cool to pass up.
 

eels05

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Sounds like it could be incorperated into slower paced games ok,like maybe survival horror.

Anything that requires alot of fast paced constant movement would halve the amount of gamers out there due to heart attack.
 

messy

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See having it in menus and the such would be cool but worth any sort of expenditure I'm not so sure
 

Gaderael

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huh? So far it seems like I'm the only one who's liking the idea of more physical immersion in to the game, as opposed to "Waggling" a controller. I can see RTS games working pretty well on this. Just being able to do a simple hand gesture to select multiple units to attack different targets, almost like a mouse.
 

Say Anything

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Greg Tito said:
You have no idea what kind of games their making?
teehee

EDIT: Oh wow, scott already posted that and did it the exact same way I did. embarassing.

I personally think Natal is a step in the wrong direction but I'll still give it a chance at launch. Just because it's a technological advancement doesn't mean it's a good thing.
 

Greg Tito

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Sep 29, 2005
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From what I've heard, Natal is less Wii than it is PS2 Eye Toy. Welcome to Gen 6.

Am I wrong? Not that I hate on 360. Of the 3 systems, that one gets the most use in my household, though, I do think PS3 will really come into its own this year.
 

StriderShinryu

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What a shock.. this is the exact same thing I've been saying ever since the Wii was first announced. Motion Control, especially true motion control, will not work with the vast majority of games that most gamers like to play. It really doesn't matter if it's the controllerless Natal or the Wii/Arc.
 

Steampunk Viking

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Jan 15, 2010
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I'm not holding my breathe until I've tried this out myself.

Having said that, I still believe that the Wii has a lot of untapped potential. Baring in mind that the 360 has more developers making games for gamers, this could be the break through that we've all been waiting for, but as I've said, that remains to be seen...
 

viking97

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Furburt said:
Hey, Jon McCrea!

I mutually know him!

OP: This proves what I've been saying, that Natal cannot be used as a standard game controller, because even a healthy human being can't stand up to that amount of activity unless it's a very repetitive action, like running or push ups.

Asking us to contemplate the dilemma of the besieged alien world and remember everything in the game while we're lunging at the screen is like asking you to summarize Immanuel Kant while being attacked by hornets.

This works okay with the wii, because the deep and more 'game like' of the games for it use the remote like an actual controller, as opposed to a remote. The ones that do use the remote exclusively are usually gimmicky and shallow.

The problem with Natal is that it doesn't have a 'basic' controller setting, it's constant physical movement, all the time. It's not conducive to good storytelling or complex gameplay elements, it just doesn't work that way. They're trying to emulate real life, but life is as based on physical sensations than it is on phsyical movement, and from my experience with the Wii, I imagine it will be VERY difficult to get sucked into a game when we're lunging around like goalkeepers. The only thing that you can hope for is that they don't promote it and feature it in proper games (i.e. not collections of minigames) exclusively, which they may have to do to recoup costs. If that happens, then the Xbox 360 may be doomed as anything resembling a console for engrossing, difficult gaming.

Well, that's my stream of consciousness rant for the day, now to go eat my 5 fruit and veg.



natal isn't a new console its an add on. i don't own an xbox, i own a ps3 and throughly hope that natal falls on its face (although i kinda think it won't) but i simply had to reply to this one.

i'm pretty sure that not every game post natal will use it, mostly because there really isn't that much to do with it even if it does everything microsoft and peter molyneux says it will....



which i doubt.
 

SMOKEMNHALO2001

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Sep 10, 2008
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I could see people getting tired from moving in the game because, well, your moving!
I'm excited for the release of Natal, I don't see why people hate the idea. I've read people saying "All I want is my controller." well you still have it, Microsoft isn't making you throw it away.
Everybody whines about the lack of innovation and originality but hates to truly see it. It's a little something called imagination, a lot of people on this site, including myself, wants to become a designer or something in the video game industry but some can't even imagine the great things Natal could do for video games.
 

Quad08

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I'm looking forward to giving it a try...still skeptical as hell but I'm going to do my best not to condemn it yet
 

aPod

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I'm glad this is going to be this way. Theres still going to be non natal games but if some of the ones that are require you to physically exhaust yourself im am happy.

My brother plays games, almost exclusively, he's not fat but chubby and out of shape. I cant motivate him to go to the gym, or play sports with me and if he is able to get 30 minutes of excerice in doing this before plopping down to another 3 hour sesh of dragon age. Im very happy.

Have to wait and see but dont think of this as necessarily a bad thing fellow gamers. Just grab some 5 pound weights and play a fighting game with it and just watch yourselves get ripped.

Ha... how strange, a world were gamers are the ones who excell physically :)
 

Hippobatman

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Jun 18, 2008
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As a couple of guys have said before me, menu browsing and such would be cool, but anything else must be incredibly well implemented to intrigue me on the concept.

It's certainly a notch cooler than your average remote, though. That's for sure. Hopefully it won't be too expensive.
 

coblen

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Nov 18, 2009
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i love the idea of voice recognition. if it turns out as good as peter molyneux (nothing ever is) then it could really inhanse game play. voice recognition instead of text dialogue trees, in games like fallout would be awesome.
 

Greg Tito

PR for Dungeons & Dragons
Sep 29, 2005
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Matt_LRR said:
Call me lazy if you will, but even the proper orientation to the screen and limited movement required by the Wii put me completely off of playing it. This description of the Natal experience is hardly selling me one.

-m
You're lazy.

Sounds really fun to me as I'm one of those weird gamers who stays active and works out semi-daily. This has the potential to be the type of technology I've been dreaming of since the days of NES...physically punching/kicking to control your fighting games would be awesome.

And for those of you who hate on every type of new control platform: honestly, it wouldn't even be worth owning a console if it weren't for this type of innovation. The PC would be superior in every way conceivable. It actually is right now. This coming from a gamer who has played pretty much only consoles this generation.
 

Blanks

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While natal would probably make it easier for me to pretend i have force powers (and i do!) i still see no worth it in, now if you'll excuse me i'm going to sleep so i can dream about my awesome powers

if i see the demo in gamestop, hmv, future shop or best buy after it's released i'll try it