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Natal Is Coming: Will It Be A Game-Changer?

by Sean P. Aune | March 30, 2010March 30, 2010 4:27 pm PDT

At the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, Microsoft will be pulling back more of the curtain it has been using to hide Project Natal and give it the official launch it needs before its release this holiday season.  With all of the game consoles now offering up motion controls, will this still be a possible game changer in the industry, or has Microsoft dragged its feet to long and lost all of the excitement it had after the initial showcasing of the device?

360natalThe number one thing Natal has going for it is the fact that you don’t have to hold anything. With both the Wii and Playstation Move, you usually will have to hold something, although the former does sometimes allow you to stand on something and go hand’s free.  Sure, holding something isn’t that big of a deal, we do it already with our normal controllers, but motion control without holding something is definitely intriguing.

The idea of complete freedom is a compelling one, but there are still so many questions as to the accuracy of this system.  Sure we have been shown demos, but you never know how well you can trust those (Hello, Power Glove), and considering what they are showing us, it almost feels impossible for it to live up to it.  Will it really keep up with someone doing a spinning kick?  And for that matter, if you aren’t a martial arts expert, or even that physically fit, how could you possibly hope to play a fighting game in the Tekken-style if you can’t do such a move in real life?

If this device delivers anywhere close to what Microsoft is promising, then yes, it could be a game changer, but there is also the question of how much the Xbox itself can handle.  While the system has received updates over its lifespan, we are still talking about a device that is five-years-old at its core.  And even with those updates, there are people out there running the original configuration, are we to believe that a device manufactured five years ago has the processing power necessary to handle this kind of input?  I certainly hope so, but you have to admit it seems a bit of a question mark.

If Microsoft can truly deliver on what they have demonstrated, and if games can be delivered that are more than bouncing balls down a hallway and painting pictures with your body, then yes, this is a game changer.  Until the device is in the hands of your average consumer though, that is going to be a very tough call.

What say you?  Do you think the Natal changes anything in the gaming industry?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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