Despite any potential for brilliance in its hardware, the Microsoft Kinect has often seemed to struggle under the weight of its own cultural ambitions (see the recent ambivalent response to Kinect Star Wars). But in transforming a legendarily complicated custom controller (pictured above) into a series of minimalist gestures, the new tech may have finally found a home for itself. Ars Technica’s Kyle Orland reports:
But the real key that makes the Kinect work for Heavy Armor‘s controls is the fact that you use a standard Xbox 360 controller for the most frequent and important parts of the game—namely, moving your mech and shooting at things. Other Kinect titles have felt the need to do away with physical controls entirely, forcing you to awkwardly hold your hands in mid-air and fiddle with two imaginary joysticks to imprecisely hobble different ways. The developers of Heavy Armor were smart enough to realize that the standard Xbox 360 controller provides the kind of precision and quick response times that are crucial for these core controls, and that the Kinect just can’t match.
In other words, the Kinect controls are used sparingly, and only for the kinds of infrequent yet important actions that make sense to control using motion rather than a button. Basically, if you can see it on the complex control array on screen, you can reach for it, which ends up being much more natural than trying to remember some obscure button combination for a rarely used function. At the same time, the game doesn’t make the mistake of asking you to constantly move your arms about for simple, routine controls. The motion-controlled bits are important, but not so frequent that you’ll tire yourself out when you’re just trying to relax with a good espcaist video game. It also helps that this is one of the rare Kinect games that is designed to be played while seated (although standing up lets you get an unobscured view of the battlefield that is much wider than the one through the tiny, easily cracked glass pane that is usually your primary window to the world).
[via Ars Technica]