FPS on Natal? Dear God!

Project Natal... like Wii Motion Plus except without any controller so you feel even more ridiculous. Score.

Let me set the scene… Los Angeles, June 2009 and it’s the time of the Electronic Entertainment Expo or, as us gamers know it as, E3. Last year, during Microsoft’s yearly conference, it was revealed that they recognised how much of a success the Wii’s Motion Control was, and still is. They did this by announcing that they were currently developing a motion detecting camera, similar to the Playstation 2’s EyeToy, the only name anyone has for it at the moment is Project Natal. It is a special camera that Microsoft is releasing in autumn 2010 which will allow Xbox 360 gamers to play on their consoles without a controller and lets you do everything with the movement of your body as well as the recognition of your voice, although I’m sure all you tech-savvy gamers are already aware of this.

Not too long after this announcement was another that a lot of gamers were happy to find out about; Halo Reach, a prequel to the original Halo Trilogy, was in development. Since then, there has been speculation that Halo Reach would be a Natal enabled game, much to some gamers’ dismay. I dread the day we have to flail our arms for an FPS (no I’m not counting any Wii FPS because, in my opinion, they suck). Thankfully Bungie have recently denied this Rumour, but can you imagine if they hadn’t? People would be throwing invisible grenades to stick a Brute and then punching, only to realise that they now need a new widescreen TV.

It may be a great concept (it's not) but I think that perhaps Microsoft expect everyone to have huge lounges with no furniture, no breakables... and, most importantly, no dignity.

It got me thinking; over 70% of publishers, including names like EA, Bethesda and Activision, have said they will be making Natal enabled games. What if some of those are FPS? It doesn’t seem like a problem to start with, but I ask the self-conscious among you – would you, or would you not feel like a prick walking on the spot in your living room, holding and firing an invisible gun and throwing invisible grenades? Think about it. Do you want to be walking around the room, where outsiders can look in, miming out a battlefield? Surely not. I’m not even going to consider how you would go about all the perks and powerups that you often find in today’s FPSs.

Personally, I think the only games Natal is going to work with are party games; all those Warioware and Raving Rabbids style games; those games you buy for the Xmas Party, and never play again. It will probably be so expensive that you will be forcing yourself to play it, and buy games for it, so that buying it in the first place becomes viable, which means that you’ll be out of pocket for a bit.

Natal has full motion capture so you can get right into the heart of the action. That's a good thing, right??

I really don’t think that Natal will be all that good (if you haven’t already worked this out), although I will listen to everyone else’s thoughts on it. I just believe it will become like the PS2’s EyeToy – good for the first three or four months, then everyone realises that no-one really needs it, and forgets about it.

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  1. Pete says:

    I can’t see Natal working with FPS type games either but I’m sure they’ll do at least one at some point!! (assuming Natal doesn’t belly flop)

    Personally I balk at games that are too much like exercise ;)

  2. Greg Greg says:

    Well first things first – a video link to cheer us all up – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUxiXEGtp70

    I think that it reinforces the point that Nicholas makes quite well :D

    In fairness, innovation is always good, but Natal does seem a bit odd. The wii was fairly innovative in theory, and it HAS produced a handful of quirky and dcent games. But natal just seems to be Eyetoy 2.0. And eyetoy was bad, even by the standards of the day.

    Oh but I must disagree with one point – Metroid Prime 3 on the wii rocked the house.. The Wii CAN do fps’s, but only when the developers really try and make an FPS game for the wii, rather than trying to bolt on motion controls to an FPS they had already made.

  3. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I can’t play FPS to save my life (or my character’s) anyway so introducing Natal to the FPS would just mean I’d make a physical fool of myself as well as a general fool. As I’d said on Rob’s article before, I’m pretty much dead against Natal and everything that it stands for. Gaming should be about precision and being able to get things right first time if you’re skilled enough at the game, and I reckon there are too many other factors involved when you’re being motion scanned. It’s just not going to work as well as they’re saying. I fear it may be another Molyneux Syndrome.

    And so for that reason… I’m out.

  4. Rook says:

    Everyone laughed at the thought of Nintendos Wiimote and Nunchuk idea, and look how much money they have made. Natal may held bring in a more casual market for xbox but the price would need to justify buying it over a Wii for casual players.

    The reason I don’t see myself getting too enthused for Natal is because I like to sit and relax while playing my games, not jumping about waving marms and legs. No doubt, the very reason my Wii doesn’t get played much, the fact that I have a Zelda game that I haven’t played doesn’t suggest much hope for Natal.

    With Peter Molyneux supporting it, I just hope that when Fable III comes out, none of the achievements are Natal locked.

  5. Lorna Lorna says:

    Personally, like Rook, I am terrified at the thought of any game achievements (especially Fable 3) being Natal specific. As stated before on Rob’s piece, I’m anti-Natal…I want to use a proper controller and game properly…not dick about like an idiot. I have a Wii festering in the corner for that nonsense. Given that the Xbox (until now) has been a sensible middle ground between the two other consoles, it is disappointing, albeit unsurprising that MS have gone down this route. Let’s just hope it crashes and burns…then MS can jump around and pretend to be putting out the flames by puffing and blowing…

  6. Rook says:

    Aawwww, personally, like you too. :p

  7. The Preacher says:

    I tend to veer between supreme indifference to Natal, and alarm that it will replace the conventional controller. I play a lot of games that need a controller; RPGs, J-RPGS, flight sims and strategy titles. At least with a shooter, or a fighting game, or a driving game, or a sports game, you can conceivably play them waving about, even if you do look a complete tosser in the process (though I take my driving games very seriously, and I do not for one second think that the kind of tight, precise handling and steering you get in games like Forza will be fully achievable with Natal).

    Greg is right too about the Wii and some shooters; the Metroid Prime Trilogy work extremely well on the Wii. The main problem with the Wii generally is that developers have been releasing shoddily produced, cheap little crappy titles, because of the perception of the console as an under-powered gimmicky cash-cow. When a game is done well for the Wii, and really has that thought and effort put into the controls, it can be very good. Though I still bought the Gamecube edition of Zelda Twilight Princess – some things just don’t need motion control.

    In the end, we don’t know how this will turn out, and we won’t until its released. It might be better if we all get proved wrong on this occasion, as a lot of people were about the Wii, and the DS before that. If we’re right, all that really means is that a major gaming company will take a big financial and reputational blow, and that can only hurt them in other areas I do care about, like their hardcore gaming efforts. Even Microsoft isn’t invulnerable.

  8. Simon says:

    People really need to stop thinking about shoe horning games as we know them now onto Natal. Think of the possibilities of new genres and getting previous game that don’t work well on a pad. Suddenly RTS might have the perfect interface to work on a console where as before it was a confusion of button combinations and drill menus. Think about the games that will use facial recognition to tone down the difficulty when the game see’s that you are having distress with a certain part of a game. Natal could be used in conjunction with other peripherals, such as activating a more accurate star power in music games or even use voice recognition to issue orders to other squads in shooters like Bad Company.

    People are writing something off something that might possibly give them new ways to play. Did people complain when games went into 3d? No, they got on with it. Did people complain when they were given analogue controls? No, they got on with it. Will people complain when Natal comes out? Hopefully they will just get on with it.

  9. Victor Victor says:

    I think that I will suffer from post-natal depression.

  10. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    My own particular point is, and always will be, that I want the choice. I want to be able to stick to playing games with a controller if that’s what I’d rather do, and still be able to play the majority of games. If it goes the way of the Wii where certain games that COULD be played using regular controlllers CAN’T, purely because they’re trying to push the “wave your arms around” mentality then I just won’t be happy. The Wii sits under our TV and has maybe been used a half dozen times because any of the “regular” games (ie not games that actually require movement to play) are either not compatible with the regular controller or not enough effort has been made into the regular controls, and so they’re counter intuitive. There needs to be the freedom of choice with Natal that there isn’t with the Wii.

    I also don’t want my console trying to reach out to me every time I walk past and try to suggest playing particular games with me. The second I hear the words “Greetings Professor Falken”, that fucker is in the bin.

  11. Victor Victor says:

    I think that MarkuzR will suffer from post-natal depression as well. I can feel it.

  12. Lorna Lorna says:

    I think people are writing it off because those new ways to play also are impratical. Toning down a game if it sees you are having troube is not a good thing IMO…that just teaches people – kids especially that life will be made easy on them if they are having a tough time figuring something out. Games used to be bastard hard and it made us try or else we got nowhere, but we learnt that practice and patience and applied knowledge paid off. Voice commands…great untl you can’t wake the baby or partner up at 1am or it can’t understand you local dialect.

    Personally, I can see one useful application and that is for disabled or impaired gamers. This could be the peripheral that they need to help them level the field more. People with missing fingers, hands, or arms can suddenly get their hobby back again or develop a new one…that could be life changing and that is what MS should concentrate on.

  13. Simon says:

    If the technology is good enough, it could be used to learn people sign language. I expect a lot of training style non games like the ones you see on DS.

  14. Ste says:

    I think some of you are being slightly unfair on the Wii here. Yes the Wii has motion control but its intregrated into a controller which marries the two systems off quite well I think. With Natal there is nothing but the camera which will interpret your movements into commands, and this is where I think Natal will suffer. I personally don’t believe the Natal will be able to do this accurately just yet. However I agree with Simon and suggest we not write it off completely just yet, but at the same time I wont be buying one off the bat. The technology needs to mature for a while first before I would even consider it.

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