Mass Effect 3 and Kinect – The Future?

I’d been contemplating a Kinect for some time, but the $149.99 Kinect and Mass Effect 3 bundle at Best Buy pushed me over the edge.  It was time to take the plunge.

I set up the Kinect last Thursday and played Kinect Adventures “with” my son.  He’s a little short for the sensor to reliably pick him up, but big enough to make it a wee bit frustrating if he’s standing in front of me.  In short, the kid laughed himself silly from the Kinect Adventures games.  He thought it was hilarious that my avatar bonked his head on obstacles or got splashed with water, and the like.

What did I think?  I thought it was great.  I was moving a bunch and it got the blood flowing.  Were the games in Kinect Adventures going to be things I wanted to play long-term?  Probably not, but with kid laughing, that makes it worth playing.

But, the real reason I picked up the Kinect was to make Mass Effect 3 better (at least, that’s what the box tells me).  Does it succeed?  I think so!

For ME3, Kinect utilizes the voice-recognition functionality to allow players to orally execute commands normally regulated to a button press (or several).  For example, if I want to open the door in front of me, I say “Open” and the door opens.  If I want Liara to utilize Singularity in combat, I say “Liara Singularity”, with my targeting reticule on the individual I want the Power used on.  This stuff is pretty cool.  I haven’t used the combat commands much yet, so I can’t comment on how much it speeds up the game, but, it’s a pretty great idea and adds to the immersion.

Now, that’s not all.  You can also recite the lines on the conversation wheel instead of selecting them with your controller.  This (to me) is an amazing step in game immersion.  The combat tactics is a great, but adding the conversation wheel just puts it over the top.  I can now feel like I’m directing my team in combat without bringing up the disruptive wheel, and in a conversation, I can carry it out with my own voice (to an extent).  That’s fantastic.

In my (limited) time using Kinect functionality in Mass Effect 3, I think BioWare has pushed the envelope on game immersion.  If this is the future of games, I like it.


Mass Effect and The Orange Box

For Christmas I was given Mass Effect, a game I had decided to not buy for myself as it didn’t fit in the budget.  The holiday release season can be killer.  I finished it a few weeks ago and I was very happy with the game as a whole and I cannot wait for the next installment.  In my playthrough, I decided to play as a Soldier, mostly because I wasn’t sure how the Biotic and Tech abilities would really play out.  In my next play, I intend to play as an Infiltrator (I think).

I’ll have to see how the second play-through goes as I intend to select a different background and the like, but I’m interested to see how the dialog changes depending on those selections.  I don’t expect to play as a Renegade though.  I kinda like being a Paragon.  Anyway, I expect the game to be enjoyable the second time through. 

 The game I had purchased instead of Mass Effect was The Orange Box from Valve.  I owned/finished Half Life 2 (and Episode 1)  on the PC already, but I’ve pretty much forsaken my PC as a gaming platform, so I wanted to play through those titles again and of course, I’d get Episode 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2 for my troubles.

Half Life 2 is still amazing.  I can’t say enough about the title.  I’ll admit it has some pacing issues and the driving levels are quite long (I feel they improved this in Episodes 1 and 2), but when you’re in a fight, its heart pounding.  The puzzles are tricky.  Overall, a very enjoyable experience.

Portal.  The cake is a lie (and we do science for those who are still alive).  Do I really need to say more?

Team Fortress 2.  The characters are crazy.  The action is fast.  There’s only 5 maps.  Hopefully we get a release of more maps soon, but the game is alot fun and the classes are all quite fun to play.

 Mass Effect and The Orange Box are definately worth adding to your collection.