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Holiday 2012 Kinect Buyer's Guide

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Holiday 2012 Kinect Buyer's Guide
Microsoft
Kinect enters its third holiday shopping season in radically different shape from its first two. The full potential of Kinect as a gameplay device has not been reached, and apparently will never be reached in its current state on Xbox 360, and our cautious optimism for it has greatly diminished. The future of Kinect on Xbox 360 is kind of bleak, to be honest. It can still be worth a look, though, if you know what you're getting yourself into. We cover the good, the bad, and anything in between that you should consider before buying a Kinect during the 2012 holiday season.

Why The Change Of Heart?

For the past two years, we have recommended the Microsoft Kinect due to the interesting potential the device had. When it works, and the game is well designed around it, Kinect can offer some fantastic gameplay experiences (Dance Central 3, Kinect Disneyland Adventures, The Gunstringer, Kinectimals). The vast majority of games for the unit, however, have been kind of terrible and major releases that were supposed to prove Kinect's worth (Kinect Star Wars, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor, Fable: The Journey) have consistently fallen flat. With the 2013 release list for Kinect titles being basically empty, unless you like voice commands in EA and Ubisoft games, there isn't going to be anything new to play.

If You Don't Already Own Kinect, But Are Still Interested

While the future looks bleak for Kinect, if you have held out this long and still want one, the back catalogue of games for the unit are all going to be pretty inexpensive at this point, so you'll be able to put together a collection of the best Kinect games for relatively little money. The price of Kinect hardware has dropped from $150 to $109 for new units, and used (refurbished) units can be found at GameStop and other retailers for under $80 or so. You can get the best of Kinect without having to pay too much, and if you have younger kids (say between 5-12 or so) or a significant other who isn't really into videogames (but you want them to be) Kinect can actually be really great. The controls are simple and fun enough that non gamers will be able to jump in and play, and the active full body motion-controlled nature of it means kids will have a blast with it.

Our full Kinect Buyer's Guide has everything else you need to know about Kinect.

We Recommend Kinect ...

... If you have a family, and don't have Kinect already, we recommend it. Just keep in mind that there won't be much new stuff coming out, but there are enough games on the market already to keep you busy for a long time.

We Don't Recommend Kinect ...

... If you are a hardcore gamer, you already know the deal with Kinect. You didn't like it to start with (without ever using it), and won't like it now (still without ever using it), so continue ignoring it.

Best Kinect Games To Buy

If you do decide to jump in to the Kinect bandwagon, or already own one and want to know what games to check out, we have reviews of all of the biggest Kinect titles on the market. See our full list of Kinect game reviews. Or if you just want the best of the best, we have a list of the Top 10 Kinect Games. As we mentioned above, though, basically the entire Kinect lineup is going to be available for pretty cheap, so taking a chance on the Kinect games with less than stellar reviews isn't much of a risk if it is cheap.

Bottom Line

I'm not sure if Kinect will be considered a success or failure when it is all said and done. When it works, it can be awesome. It just doesn't work all the time and at this point there are a lot more misses than hits on the market. With the rapidly dropping prices on everything, though, it can still be worth picking up if you know what you're getting into.

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