How I'm reviewing a Kinect game

I’m reviewing LeedMees for Kinect right now. It’s my first Kinect game review. I decided while it was downloading to do my best to avoid the whole “this would be better with a controller” thought. It’s a pitfall I think many fall in to when reviewing Kinect games, and it’s not really fair. Would a lot of Kinect games be better with a controller? Maybe, but then they wouldn’t be Kinect games. Fortunately, the game goes full tilt into the Kinect tech. I don’t think LeedMees could exist as a controller-based game without just being straight up Lemmings. That’s a good thing to me.

I’m also trying my best to stay away from reviewing the hardware, which is tough. Kinect is still relatively new, and I don’t think developers have come anywhere close to discovering or understanding the full limitations of the technology. Because of this, it’s easy to use the game as a means to review the technology behind it. Is it the game that’s having trouble tracking my leg, or is it the Kinect?

This is something that many people ran into with the Wii, and many non-enthusiasts still do. I remember playing a game at my parent’s house several years ago—some awful budget mini-game collection—and it was very unresponsive. My parents and wife were blaming the remotes and the system, but I knew it was the game’s fault. It was a bad game, and I’d seen other games do motion controlled mini-games better. As an enthusiast and someone that had reviewed a ton of Wii games, I was pretty sure of what the system could and could not do.

I don’t think those boundaries have been reached with Kinect. Maybe they never will; it’s awfully fuzzy tech, and there are a ton of variables to consider (lighting, placement, space, etc.). There are some fidelity issues in LeedMees, as there are with every Kinect game, so to me, the real critique is in how the game handles those issues. From what I’ve played (I own three Kinect games and have tried several others), the Kinect doesn’t translate super precise movements well, so a good game won’t force me to do them, or will at least bend the rules so I’m not penalized too harshly when the hardware wigs out.

So, no controller thoughts, no hardware review, how is the game? Not bad. It’s got a frantic pace that forces you to be aware of your body as you contort it, which can be exhausting. It throws new challenges and gameplay variations at you every few minutes, and it’s got some multiplayer that forces you to get cozy with a friend (that part is either fun or awkward—depends on well you know the person and how much clothing you’re wearing, heyo!) For a $10 downloadable game, it has as much, if not more, content than Fruit Ninja Kinect. I’m still working my way through it, so check back to Gamespot in the next few days for the full review.