If you are one of the gamers that purchased an Xbox One before Microsoft ditched
the mandatory Kinect around this time last year, or if you've purchased a Kinect since then, you may well have been wondering why you paid all that extra money. Aside from the odd voice command shoe-horned into games released at launch and the standard dance titles we saw on the Xbox 360, there has been very little support for it.
MADE, a two man development team based in Germany, are trying to change that fact with the release of Slice Zombies for Kinect
, a Kinect game that they are hoping will make you plug in the device again, and get you up on your feet.
Slice Zombies for Kinect
After a queuing the lightening quick download and installation, rearranging the furniture in my living room to allow for ample arm flailing, and reconfiguring the Kinect after unearthing it from the back of the TV where it had been hidden for months, it was time to play Slice Zombies for Kinect
. As the game’s catchy intro music ended and the menu screen appeared, I raised my arm to highlight the play button and absolutely nothing happened at all. After a couple of minutes of hand waving with no response, I exited to the dashboard where my arm movement was instantly tracked again and resumed the game by gesture this time, and still nothing happened. Thinking third time lucky I repeated the steps above, and finally I was able to start slicing zombies.
Kinect games live and die by their tracking, and Slice Zombies for Kinect
is unfortunately a mixture of both good and bad. On numerous occasions when starting the game and in between rounds as pop-up messages appear to inform you of any new in-game purchases that are available, the game failed to register any hand gestures at all, despite waving an arm from side to side for a few minutes. The only way to get around that was to go to the dashboard, let the Kinect track arm movement again there, and then go back into the game where it was hit and miss if the game would continue to track or not. On the other hand (pun intended), when in the thick of the zombie slicing action, tracking around the middle of the screen allowed for some intricate manoeuvres, but anything on either side of the screen or at the bottom always seemed to be out of touch, no matter how hard I tried to reach them and despite varying my distance from the Kinect.
Tracking is unfortunately hit and miss
The basis for Slice Zombies for Kinect
is simple. It’s a Fruit Ninja Kinect
clone that switches fruit for cutely animated Zombies that hold more than a passing resemblance to the ones found in Plants vs. Zombies
. There’s no tutorial - although the premise is simple enough that it’s intuitive without - and there’s only one game mode available.
A round lasts for just over a minute (without any time power-ups) and you’re tasked with waving your arms to hit the various zombies and coins that appear from each side of your screen. You begin with three lives per round, and lose one if you allow a zombie to makes its way across your screen, or if you hit a bomb.
After each game you are rewarded with XP, and as you progress through the 21 available ranks the game will throw in different types of zombies that are a little bit harder to hit; such as zombies that spin across the screen at a quicker pace and some that will require multiple slices to kill. There will also be more bombs to avoid and a different type of bomb which if hit will result in your screen appearing to spin, and the movement of the on-screen zombies being altered.
It's like Fruit Ninja Kinect with Zombies
There’s very little in the way of depth, and the game could definitely do with the addition of a couple of game modes to help add some variety to the repetitive gameplay, especially a co-op mode which would make the game ideal for parties, but in short bursts it offers that unique sense of fun that can only be found when you drop the controller to stand and throw your arms around in an attempt to reach the end of the round.
The game is very well presented with a catchy theme tune, bright colours throughout and cute character design that will make it an instant hit with young children who are looking for a different way to game, and who will be a little more forgiving of the obvious flaws in tracking and lack of available game modes.
Sliced coins can be used to purchase new backgrounds and power-ups
Aside from the addition of some new Zombies characters to slice - some of which like the Mario and Luigi lookalikes are quite amusing - as you progress through the game's ranks, you can switch things up a little by purchasing items from the in-game shop. New backgrounds to play on and different animations for your hand movements such as rockets, flames and guns can be exchanged for any coins you manage to slice. They do allow for some variety for the next round or two, but you’ll quickly realise that they do nothing to change the actual gameplay, and you are still doing the same thing you were doing at the start of the game.
You can also purchase power-ups from the store that will give you an extra life, short periods of increased XP, grant additional time and shower coins across the screen if you manage to slice the corresponding walking hands that scurry across the screen. Once you have purchased a few of the key ones, you’ll find that any challenge the game originally had is gone, and you’ll manage to survive to the end of each round more often than not with not much effort.
The store itself isn’t very intuitive to navigate, and it took a couple of visits to realise that there were more items available via a scrolling list that is controlled my making a fist and moving you arm up and down. It's obvious once you know how, but without any initial direction, it's more difficult than it should be.
Zombies are good, bombs are bad
The game’s 17 available achievements are easy to earn, with the majority of them taking under a couple of hours to unlock through natural game progression. The Winner Takes It All
achievement will likely be the one that some people skip as it requires you to reach rank 21 and purchase all of the available items from the in-game store. Although it’s certainly not difficult, earning enough coins to purchase everything will require a couple of hours of additional play.
With any Kinect game it ultimately comes down to if you enjoy the idea of using your body to control the action, or if you’d rather be sat down to play. If you enjoy Kinect games then there is strong chance you’ll have a fun but brief time with Slice Zombies for Kinect
A lack of alternate game modes and co-op play along with the hit or miss tracking make it hard to recommend at $9.99 (or your regional equivalent) unless you enjoy Kinect games a lot, or are looking for a quick boost to your Gamerscore.
- A chance to use the Kinect again
- Fun gameplay in short bursts
- Child friendly with bright design and cute characters
- Tracking is hit and miss
- Lack of game modes make it repetitive
- No local co-op play
The reviewer spent approx. three hours slicing through 1,000s of zombies and trying to get the game to track him, earning 16 of the game's 17 achievements. This Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the developer for review.