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Harry Potter Kinect Hands-On Preview: Accio Better Game!

Jonathan Lester
EA, Gamescom 2010, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Kinect

Harry Potter Kinect Hands-On Preview: Accio Better Game!

One of the oddest moments of EA's Press Conference was the unveiling of Harry Potter's Kinect functionality. The Weasley twins stepped up on stage to cast some hands-free spells in the new challenge mode... and if it's good enough for them, it had to be worth trying out for myself. Plus, my time with Sorcery's tech demo had raised the bar fairly high and I was looking forward to comparing how the two motion control peripherals handle wand-based combat.

As it turns out, there's a clear winner.

Whilst the upcoming HP title is a cover-based third person experience, the challenge levels resemble an arcade rail shooter. Harry trundles along a preset path, stopping frequently to deal with spellcasting Death Eaters that leap out from time to time. Once I'd stepped into the vaguely sinister Kinect Pod (complete with a perspex window so the entire gawping convention centre could laugh at my antics), the rep filled me in on the controls.

Harry Potter Kinect Hands-On Preview: Accio Better Game!

Flicking the right wrist and upper arm prompts Harry to launch a simple projectile spell in the direction that you gesture. Holding up the left hand and pushing outwards with your right triggers the powerful Confringo charm that blasts a massive beam of magical energy. Holding out both arms raises a shield that can block incoming blasts, and miming an underarm throw lobs an incendiary potion at groups of enemies. On paper, this sounds like a perfect little setup... except for one minor detail.

It doesn't work.

Flicking my arm and wrist usually resulted in my magical projectile veering off to the right hand side of the screen, with a little (yet noticable) delay between making the action and watching the result. I occasionally managed to get a shot on target, but it was exceptionally difficult to get any sense of bearing or position relative to the screen. This problem became infinitely more vexing with the Confringo spell that's practically impossible to aim. More annoyingly, Harry frequently cast it straight at his own feet even though I was aiming it straight ahead- resulting in self inflicted knockdown and muffled titters from the crowd behind the perspex.

Harry Potter Kinect Hands-On Preview: Accio Better Game!

Impressive spell. Shame that it's almost certainly headed for the top right of the screen.

The protect mechanic worked well enough, but the clunky animation created a massive gap between me raising my hands and Harry actually following through. Could it be masking a little lag? A little latency perhaps? Not half. The potion mechanic simply refused to activate- and no matter how many times the rep told me to keep my arms at my side (and how many different ways I tried), Harry stalwartly refused to do anything whatsoever.

It's possible that I just sucked beyond all reason... but if there's any sort of steep learning curve, surely that's going against everything that Kinect ought to stand for? Plus, I was delighted to see my fellow journalists failing just as miserably after I left. Vindication.

After this disastrous showing, the flustered rep assured that the demo represented a work in progress and that some serious tweaking would be taking place before release. And despite all my moaning, I genuinely hope that they get it working. I'm still convinced that the Kinect hardware has real potential to change the face of casual gaming... but it can only flourish by securing frequent big-name third party titles. For the love of Allard, Microsoft, get on the case.

Add a comment15 comments
Jerec  Aug. 19, 2010 at 19:17

This, I feel is where the Kinect will stumble and the Move flourish.

To get that kind of accuracy you need something solid for the camera to follow and it shows a hand doesn't cut it.

I hope EA, that supposedly are siding with Sony for a few exclusives can do the same for Potter and show everyone how its supposed to look!

Bill  Aug. 19, 2010 at 23:27

I don't like the idea of having to hold something, defeats the object for me - but I think they should just incorporate some sort of "gloves" to wear that the Kinect can pick up on.

Who would mind slipping on a pair of gloves to play a game? I wouldn't...

Jerec  Aug. 20, 2010 at 10:59

Thats a good shout.

Ted  Aug. 20, 2010 at 11:08

LOL and you think MOVE is somehow better ?,
IF a game gets a bad review on the PS3 would that mean you think the PS3 hardware is rubbish to ?

Here is a review by an OWNER of MOVE and it's not looking to good -



The input lag is noticeable with everything. Not so much that it is make or break, but it is noticeable. It's a little like playing online and mentally compensating for a specific lag while playing.

You must calibrate every controller between every different title.

I also am really disappointed there is no consistent interface between games. Sports Champions will actively tell you when your controller is not in view of the PSEye, Tiger just makes wild assumptions. Some games ask you to calibrate by hitting the action button and pointing at the Eye, some the trigger, some the X button.

Controlling the PS3 interface with the Move controller is really frustrating. Hold in the trigger and shake the stick to move in all directions... but it is waaaay too sensitive. I found myself giving up and reaching for the DS3. The web browser also does not create a virtual mouse which I thought would have been a nice touch.

Robert  Aug. 20, 2010 at 11:32

That defeats the purpose of Kinect

adel  Aug. 20, 2010 at 12:50

Anyone else get in fed up of these PRERELEASE negative posts, I just watched GT5 demo and a glitch of where the car crashes into an invisible wall and then looks like it has been pulled into the centre of a tornado.

Will these be in the final release ?, wait and see but then and only then will we ALL be in a position to really judge.

Jonathan Lester  Aug. 20, 2010 at 16:39

I couldn't agree more. All I can say for certain (and stated in the article) is that the preview build needs a LOT of work. As I said in the last paragraph, I absolutely hope that it's working on release. Kinect's a great peripheral that deserves top tier third party support.

Bill  Aug. 20, 2010 at 22:36

Perhaps - but if its as bad as picking up the body as people seem to think, then its defeated itself already...

Josh  Aug. 23, 2010 at 10:09

Every Kinect game demoed has been on rails... and every game consists almost entirely of waving your hands like a lunatic, to eventually do something wrong. At the E3 conference LAST YEAR, Sony said that they learnt from eye toy that controllers are needed for most experiences. Xbox obviously did not learn this, and neither did half of the human population, as unfortunately, Kinect will sell millions more than move because the idiots who somehow earn enough to afford a games console think "ooh! No input into games? Jumping around like someone having an epileptic fit? Sounds like the game for me!"

God I hate Kinect

i hate kinect  Oct. 8, 2010 at 19:56

move rocks, kinect stinks. face it.

i hate kinect  Oct. 8, 2010 at 19:57

u go dude!

ODB  Oct. 9, 2010 at 12:05

oh look a PS3 fanboy - eveyone who can afford more than one console smile and wave

Mick  Oct. 9, 2010 at 19:20

Ohhhh no, you have to spend 5 precious seconds calibrating a controller what has the world come to.

Your argument is ultimately pointless and proves that your either a huge 360 fanboy or you just generally suck at using all gaming related tech.

Ta Froncek  Nov. 11, 2010 at 16:26

The Kinect scored higher in the reviews I've seen than any other motion controller launch titles.

Jonathan Lester  Nov. 11, 2010 at 16:36

You bet- this hopefully was a problem with awful early code.

We'll have our full hardware review for you soon!


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