“Project Natal” even the code name for the Xbox add on set to be released for Christmas 2010 conjures up images of futuristic sci-fi movies and the reality isn’t far off. Controller less gaming, it’s one of those things no one ever truly thought would happen but now it has.
But there’s something about this product that just makes me nervous, I don’t know if it’s because our preview in a secret London location took place in front of several Xbox aficionados who got to witness us play their new game in potentially the least graceful manner ever – this is not a ‘project’ for people who are easilyembarrassed.
Being instructed to grab an on screen icon to select an option is a bizarre experience because sssentially you are grabbing thin air. You keep wanting to reach for some sort of controller only to realise that actually there isn’t one.
Here's the tech bit: Project Natal works using an RGB camera which senses your movements. On being invited to “jump in” the sensors recognise 48 different points in your body which means it picks up your every turn with precision. Looking forward it will also have voice sensors trained only to detect the voice of the person using the game and to block out ambient noise. No need to press a button to make your console spark into life - you can just shout at it.
Being instructed to grab an on screen icon to select an option is a bizarre experience because sssentially you are grabbing thin air.
Obviously comparisons are going to be drawn between Natal and the Wii. How does it fare? Well, put it this way, if Wii is your D-list celebrity going to the opening of a postage stamp then Natal is a superstar you're too scared to even look at it’s so goddamn glamorous. Not to mention the fact that it’s so much more energetic. On a Wii Fit you’re lucky to burn as many calories as you would walking up the stairs but after just five minutes of bouncing around playing Natal I felt the need to ask for a quiet sit down and a sugary cup of tea.
Over the coming months the whole Natal package is set to be unveiled including physical movement and voice recognition games as well as movie packages. Be warned though, the games actually take photos of you which can be later uploaded to Facebook, so, you might want to practise your ‘concentrated game face’ and pick out some ‘I would look cool in this outfit playing on Natal’ clothes before firing up this baby.