I remember not long ago that both Sony and Microsoft were having a right jolly laugh at Nintendo and their ridiculous gimmick of motion sensing. Now a few years later, the electronic giants have U-turned and introduced their own motion sensing devices.
Over the last couple of days the two companies have revealed their controllers at their E3 conferences. Sony have a yet untitled motion sensing device using their ‘eye’ camera and Microsoft have an all new method called project Natal.
Sony’s is the most traditional device. They’ve learnt their lesson from the rather poor ‘sixaxis’ controller and have opted for a wii remote style device in a form of a baton. In their E3 tech demo, Sony showed how well this works with the ‘eye’ allowing the user to see themselves onscreen at the same time as playing the game, very similar to the eyetoy. They also demonstrated how well this feature can work in 3D space.
The demo did look very impressive (and if you didn’t see it, you can have a look below), but it does seem to be nothing more than a slightly more accurate wii remote.
Microsoft however have come up with the true innovation, for the first time in gaming history. Project Natal combines a camera and a sensor bar which you place at the front of your TV set. And that’s it, there is no controller because YOU are the controller.
Now obviously this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this as Sony created the eyetoy several years ago. However, Natal is far more advanced, it can actually recognise you, recognise your body parts, recognise all of your actions and replicate all of this on screen. It can react to your every movement. It’s also been demoed with a variety of games from skating to driving, even to a socialising tech demo.
The only problem I have with Natal is the lack of force-feedback, no rumble etc. I can’t help feeling that this would feel extremely alien to all gamers and even people who haven’t played before.
So where does this leave Nintendo and Wii? Well it certainly isn’t game over for the big N yet. Wii Motion plus is just around the corner and will put the Wii’s motion not far off the quality of Sony’s new device. However it does look like the motion sensitive console may loose its crown to it’s more traditional rivals. But don’t forget, these devices aren’t available yet and could take over a year to release.
There’s also the small matter of developing for them. Developers know and like the Wii, they can make games for it quickly, whereas with Sony and Microsoft’s new toys they will have to learn how they work, which will take time.
But hats off to both companies for these shock revelations, they both look very entertaining, although for me, project Natal looks far more groundbreaking!
I’ll be watching E3 over the coming days and expect me to properly review Nintendo’s offering very soon!