Tiger Woods 13 Kinect Demo Impressions

Posted March 9th, 2012 at 8:15 am

At E3 last year EA Sports announced that they would be introducing Kinect for Xbox 360 integration in many of their upcoming titles. The first in line is Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 which had its demo release this week providing an opportunity to try out the new swing detection and voice command features. 

The menu navigation aspect here seems to be the weakest – it’s best just to use the controller throughout the menus. At different points a controller ends up being required anyway. I found myself getting stuck in a few places with no evident way to get out without picking up the controller to do so. There is no voice-driven navigation in the menus which is a disappointment.

The interesting thing about the motion detection with Tiger 13 is that players now stand parallel to the television set. That allows for Kinect to track the whole body and represent the swings much more effectively. It also really provides the feeling that Kinect is capturing the entire swing process rather than just a point or two on the body.

Given that the demo is on Pro difficulty it’s hard to judge just how precise Kinect is in this regard. Considering how well I was doing immediately it’s probably quite forgiving on that setting.

The swings weren’t always properly translated though to the golfer’s animation. On some occasions it would look like it was a half swing but still go the full distance, and others without a full back swing sometimes appeared as complete swing. Again though the result seemed to be more of what was anticipated based on the actual swing made.

Other motion controls include raising a hand over the eyes to zoom in the camera (my favorite of the bunch), swiping with a hand to move on past certain screens, reaching out and closing the fist to move the shot or provide spin, and bringing the hands together to prepare to take the swing. Some of them are a bit touchy but overall pretty satisfying to utilize.

By being paired with voice commands the activity is less strenuous than expected. Going in I didn’t think many would want to play a full 18 holes in this manner but now I can see that being a more reasonable task to complete. Voice can be used to do things like change clubs, reset shots, view replays, or ask the caddy. For the most part the commands picked up reliably with all the options presented clearly on screen. The only odd thing I came across was having to ask for the “8.5 degree driver” rather than just saying “driver”.

The Kinect implementation in Tiger Woods 13 appears to be well designed and effective. I can absolutely anticipate taking advantage of the voice commands even if I ultimately prefer to use the controller for all other actions. While the menu navigation is disappointing the motion detection is promising and the voice commands are especially valuable.