Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mass Effect 3 & The Kinect

Since Katey has been kind enough to join the not-so-respectable ranks of 'author' for our faux-journalistic escapades, I've decided to strap on my serious(ish) pants and start writing entries as though I actually intend people to read them.

Should you play Mass Effect 3 with the kinect?
Voice Command Guide for ME3

The answer is an ambiguous that depends.

I suppose the easier question to get out of the way is, does it work?  As long as you can manage to ensure that nothing else in the city makes a noise louder than a mild mannered gentleman's ahem while you're trying to issue your commands, you'll find that the Kinect works most of the time. In all honestly it worked better than I expected it to. Granted, I ended up rolling with EDI and Liara because my Kinect apparently didn't like hearing someone else call out Garrus' name, and it absolutely abhored the way I pronounce shotgun, but aside from that it seemed to get the gist of what I was trying to say.

Looking past the actual functionality of the voice commands, a lot of this decision rides on whether you give a rat's ass what your companions are doing while you're in combat.  If you're more into letting them do whatever they want (which is anything from decimating all life to picking their nose in a corner) then the only commands you'll get any use out of are switching your own weapons and using the 4th skill you probably don't have. I found these mildly helpful at best (possibly due the whole shotgun thing) and rarely used them.

Oh, and I guess there's the commands whose only purpose are for shits and giggles.
You can tell Bioware was hoping that using voice command would overwhelm you with that new technology feeling by all the absolutely useless opportunities they give you to use it.  At a doorway, you can say 'open' to do guess what, and during conversations you can recite a line to choose it.  Both of these things are more time consuming and less likely to work than their button counterparts, so the only real purpose of them being there is to make you fawn over how your 360 finally understands you, bringing you one step closer to eloping together.

I do feel obligated to take a moment and say that despite the fact that most of the time it's like trying to walk upriver through mud, reciting lines for conversation does have its advantages when you've decided to busy your hands with something else during those long conversations. Like stuffing your face with food or jerking off.

Now, if you're the kind of player that micro-manages your players, you stand the most to gain. However, how you play the game and what you want out of it still play a big part in whether you'll actually like it. If you're not a fan of real time combat and find yourself wishing whimsically for the days when turn based combat was in vogue, you might not enjoy the perks of a device that allows you shed all need for the menu systems that pause combat, seeing as that's what it was made to do. If the game stopping dead mid-combat doesn't break your immersion, and you honestly like the excuse to take deep breath and collect yourself enough to work out some tactics, you probably aren't going to take advantage of the system. Also, if you're really into the menu system because it provides you with the ability to use 3 skills simultaneously, you'll probably be disappointed with voice commands, seeing as you can only issue one command at once.  2 if you use it in concert with a button.

Alternatively, if a game's ability to 'draw you in' is important, you should seriously consider giving it a go. It's true that I had to repeat myself from time to time, but that didn't seem break the immersion nearly as much as I thought it would. I'd gotten so used to issuing commands vocally that I foolishly started thinking aw shit, they didn't hear me instead of I wish my Kinect would quit being an asshole. Having to sort out tactics hiding behind a box while things were shooting and/or screaming at me, and then having to execute those orders in real time and in a realistic manner well made up for in immersion what it lacked in success rate. I suppose this only works if you're not a cynical ass who refuses to meet anything halfway, so if you aren't going to try to like it, don't even bother.

The technology is new and its obvious, but I still think its a great step forward for more interactive gaming. I'm a big fan of using the voice commands, and aside from a very depressing half an hour when it was too loud to use it, my game never had to stop dead.  It had its issues, but that half an hour without taught me how much I really really enjoyed the system.

Dear Kinect:
Love, Me.


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