I recently had the chance to play with Project Natal and…wait. I didn’t get to play with Natal. It was really You’re In The Movies, the game I consider to be the toe in the water for Microsoft and motion sensing. If you’ve never played the game, it uses the Vision camera to put you on the screen and into various short “movies”. Much like the Eyetoy camera for the PlayStation, it picks up your movement and allows you to manipulate things on the screen. It’s not new technology, and it is the same type of gameplay employed in some PlayStation games. I don’t think I’m wrong in stating that the feeling you get when playing You’re In The Movies is not unlike the feeling you get with Wii Sports or any of the Eyetoy games.
That feeling is fatigue.
If you’ve watched the E3 video where they introduce Natal, you see the girl playing Breakout with her body. It’s all very cool and she makes it look like a breeze. Of course, she’s extremely fit (not to mention she has a ton of room to play with). Playing You’re In The Movies made me realize that, while fun, the experience is still very much a novelty in gaming.
The Wii has forced Microsoft and Sony to push this technology to the top of their list in terms of development and strategy. Personally, I do not see the “hardcore” picking up games that are purely motion controlled. Gamers that live and breathe games like Halo, God of War, Madden, or Grand Theft Auto won’t be happy when they have to control their character with arm and leg flailing.
Bungie is rumored to be adding Natal support in to Halo: Reach. It sounds like you will still need to have a controller in your hands, so I’m not sure what motions you will be doing while keeping both thumbs on the analog sticks. If a controller is still required, does that defeat the purpose of you being the controller?
You’re In The Movies reminded me that motion control isn’t the holy grail of gaming. I see it much like the touch screen on the Nintendo DS. When done right, it works very well. On the other hand, not all games need to use that feature to provide compelling gameplay. If Natal is an option and not a requirement, I think it will be much more successful. Implement it where it makes sense and leave it out where it doesn’t.