The future will set you free. That sentence can stand for many things, but we have a little slice of the future in our very own homes with the Kinect interface developed for the Microsoft XBOX360. This 3D camera (yes I’m dumbing it down but you get the gist) allows you to interface with videogames without a controller. No buttons! You just make gestures with your body, speak commands and it does the rest. If you’ve seen a few movies like Minority Report or Iron Man you get the idea. Only, we’re not up to those standards just yet.
Up til now, the only games available for the Kinect peripheral have been strictly aimed at the kids/family market. Simple run and jump games alongside Harmonix’ fabulous Dance Central. “Hardcore” gamers scoff at this and are waiting to see if any ‘real’ (where you blow stuff up) games will come out utilizing this peripheral. Microsoft said yes, we said let’s see them already! (Kinect has been out since Nov’ 10)
First up to bat is Child of Eden. The spiritual successor to last generation PlayStation 2’s underground hit Rez. Not many people had a chance to experience Rez due to the limited quantities shipped and the thousands of other PS2 games that took up all your time. This game was different, spawned from the mind of Testsuya Mizuguchi and Q Entertainment, Rez was a blend of Tron like graphics and beautiful sound. (Come to think of it, Mizuguchi needs to work on the Tron licensed game stat). The beats and visuals of Rez are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before and you should definitely check out the downloadable version Rez HD (XBOX Live Arcade).
Child of Eden on the XBOX 360 takes this trippy game to the next level by removing the controller and letting you drive as you attempt to purify Eden (the future name for the Internet) that has been corrupted after eons of disuse.
The graphics of Child of Eden are down right wondrous. It’s like floating through a dream at light speed with neon everything. Bright and tasteful, all the visuals are in tune with the soundtrack that you are hearing. Each enemy floats on screen with a piece of the melody, when you dispatch them, the sound blends in with the background to a satisfying crescendo.
As you purge the archives of enemies you are treated to various wildlife and flora of earth. You see, it’s years into the future and humans haven’t been back to earth to see the beauty of its life. If you’ve seen James Cameron’s Avatar and Pandora then you have an idea of what I’m talking about.
Mizuguchi famously demo’d Child of Eden at e3 2010 wearing white gloves and appearing as a sort of conductor of the symphony that played out in front of the audience. Thankfully you don’t have to wear white gloves as the Kinect does a great job of recognizing your hands and accurately tells the difference between the left and right.
Child of Eden is on rails (meaning you do not control forward motion) with the left hand (in default mode) fires a rapid fire pulse and your right hand allows you to lock-on to up to 8 enemies to fire a burst all at once. Alternating between the two is key to clearing stages and getting hi scores and perfect combos.
Enemies fire projectiles at you that can only be stopped with rapid fire, and you have to be quick to alternate between the two because you need those lock-on combos. The experience is downright fun. I’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy playing Child of Eden. I also can’t imagine someone going back to the controller scheme (included in case you do not have Kinect) after they’ve played hands free. The responsiveness is key to creating the harmony of the game. I should also point out here that the menus are well done.
One of my key gripes with all the previous Kinect games was that to navigate through the menus you had to hold your hand over a selection for a tad too long (about 4 seconds). The reason for this is that devs didn’t want to frustrate people by making accidental selections. I always felt that it was a bit long and made the overall experience feel unresponsive. Child of Eden has it right, with a hover time of about 2 seconds that just feels like I made a selection. This snappiness helps tremendously.
I was sold on Child of Eden from the moment I saw it. I’ve always been a fan of Q Entertainment games (you must try Lumines) and being the spiritual successor for Rez put it over the top. Add in featuring Kinect and the lower price of $49.99, you don’t have a bunch of negatives for this title. It’s definitely a worthy Kinect experience for the platform that is currently lacking AAA games. If you do not have Kinect and want to play it with the controller feel free, you will still enjoy the game and may even love it, but once you go hands free you can’t go back. Child of Eden isn’t a very long game, but it has major re-playability just to hear the great tunes again.
“Child of Eden” was developed and released by Q Entertainment for the XBOX360.