Kinect Forza Preview "Hands"-On

By Brian Leahy, Jun 14, 2010 11:31pm PDT Tonight, I saw a grown man interact with a virtual tiger with Kinectimals. It was not for me. I did, however, get a chance to check out Turn 10's Kinect Forza demo, representing its experimentation with Microsoft's new motion controls.

It was also my first experience actually interacting with Kinect and I went in quite skeptical. I was immediately shocked at how intuitive, responsive, and easy the system is to use. In the first part of the demo, players hop in a Ferrari 458 Italia and attempt to pass as many cars as possible. By holding ones hands up as if they were gripping a steering wheel, players can turn by miming the real-life motions.

Figuring out the sensitivity and strength of the capture took me all of two seconds as soon as I attempted to make my first turn. In the demo, acceleration and braking are governed automatically by the same guided system available in Forza Motorsport 3. Head tracking and leaning are used as well for an immersive experience. I set the high score for the night.

The hardest thing to do was keep my hands in position while turning with nothing to hold, but I'm told that the tech supports using props. The skeletal tracking can do its job even if you're holding an item. It's no where near as responsive as using a racing wheel or controller, but the experience is great for a quick "pick-up" and play session. Thankfully, the Kinect camera can recognize new players on the fly, removing the need for any recalibration when the next player steps up like with the PlayStation Move.

The second part of the demo, as seen in the Microsoft E3 2010 press conference, let's the player walk up to and inside a virtual Ferrari 458. The player can activate points of interest that play cutscenes and detail the specifications of the vehicles along with some fun facts ("Jay Leno owns three of these cars"). Again, it's very intuitive and easy to figure out on the fly. It's not game-changing, but it is a great way to show off the graphics and licensed cars.

Turn 10 would not name or specify what would actually be released to the public, but it sounds like much of this will eventually make it into a consumer product. The team is experimenting and a lot of ideas are being left on the cutting room floor. Turn 10 is taking its time with figuring out this new technology in the racing genre, calling it the "wild west" in terms of motion controls.

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