Commander Shepard's Kinect-Enabled Descent Into Madness

Mass Effect 3's Kinect integration works great when you're talking to squadmates. When you're talking to yourself, it gets a little weird.

Now that the Kinect has been out for a while, we've begun to see developers use the technology for more than just gesture-controlled sports compilations. BioWare might be the most high-profile example of this, having implemented the Kinect as a tool for voice commands in the Xbox 360 version of Mass Effect 3. It's one of the few Kinect-compatible games that completely eschews any use of the sensor's built-in camera; this space opera is all about shouting.

Having played some of it for ourselves at CES last week, it's clear that BioWare's done a good job of getting the technology to play nicely with its sci-fi shooter action sequences. Pretty much everything you can do from the radial menu can also be done with your voice. And in a nice touch, you can say "quick save" to make the game, well, quick save. Take that F6 key!

But there is something odd about voice commands in Mass Effect 3. It's something that makes you take a step back and think, "Maybe I should tone it down a bit." See, you're supposed to be role playing as Commander Shepard, right? So isn't it a little weird to shout "shotgun!" to switch to your boomstick, or "incendiary ammo!" to switch to fire bullets? At that point, aren't you kind of yelling at yourself?

The Kinect voice commands are great for issuing squad orders. If James is playing it too safe, you can yell "James attack!" and he'll charge forward just as you commanded. If you need to get at an enemy pinned behind cover, you can shout "Liara lift!" and she'll instantly turn your foes into a bunch of helplessly floating bull's-eyes. It works; it feels natural. You're Shepard commanding your troops like the space general you are.

But yelling at yourself to open a door instead of hitting the A button per the giant onscreen button prompt? That's a little weird. There's some mild mental instability bubbling beneath the surface there. But, hey, maybe it's just us. Take a look at the demo below and let us know what you think of Mass Effect 3's voice commands in the comments.

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191 comments
Tribesmaster
Tribesmaster

I'll stick with the controller thank you very much.

rpm12345
rpm12345

I'd rather tap L2 to use powers then look like an idiot shouting at my Tv all day.

vault-boy
vault-boy

Not to defend Kinect, but rather to state an accurate assumption. First, the Kinect probably has better 'hearing' I guess you can say because it can hear across rooms well and can distinguish the voices of multiple people. Also, yes, it is possible to do this with a headset, the original (and good) Socom games for the Playstation 2 showed us that. Had a blast using the mic controls in that game, despite not always being spot on. I might have to buy ME3 for the 360 because of the voice commands, although I would prefer it on PC otherwise. Oh ya, Microsoft probably made them make it Kinect only, good marketing I guess.

zenstrata
zenstrata

Why can't this be done with the 360 LIVE headset? Voice Commands do Not Need Kinect!

Quinzark
Quinzark

I'm still not sold on Kinect, would headsets work? if it works with that & i like it i would be more likely to warm up to Kinect.

gotrekfabian
gotrekfabian

Anyone know if headsets work instead of using kinect?

spec24
spec24

"So isn't it a little weird to shout "shotgun!" to switch to your boomstick, or "incendiary ammo!" to switch to fire bullets? At that point, aren't you kind of yelling at yourself?" What's wrong with that? It worked for Shogun Warriors. Hydro-phasers!!!! Screw Crusher Punch!!!!! That's why the Kinect would be great for a Shodun Warrior game. Where the hell are those?

thequickshooter
thequickshooter

i kinda want a kinect then again i want a new headset so its hard to decide

DAMSOG
DAMSOG

Didn't the old Rainbow6 have voice commands?....and boy didn't that work out a treat.....not needed and by the sounds of it, not wanted either.

Nymphonomicon
Nymphonomicon

I only make squad commands from the radial menu... and I don't care for devs "streamlining" their sequels.

sammyd1234
sammyd1234

what country u in isshiah, and connor728, no it isnt its just a bonus feature if u have it

Connor728
Connor728

it's not compulsory for you to have kinect.... is it? D:

KidsNDad
KidsNDad

I swore to myself a lot when playing DarkSouls so not too worried about talking to myself in any game. Edit: I have avoided seeing gameplay footage so not to have any spoilers, so was not expecting decapitation (1:13).

isshiah
isshiah

if i had the kinect already, it'd be great. but this feature is not going to be a big enough incentive for me to buy it. plus i'm not quite sure my country has voice support yet.

VaanXPenelo
VaanXPenelo

Looks fun, why not have it in? As long as the necessary resources were used to keep the story as epic as it has been so far, I don't see the big deal about it. I got the Kinect at launch and it just means I get a bit more value for money for my purchase. Love it!

liam82517
liam82517

The action will flow smoother with squad commands in battle, and I can see the point of ammo switching commands. But door opening commands? Maybe too much. Still better to have it and not use it, than want it and not have it.

siarhei
siarhei

I see how this would work for squadmates or powers (right now it's a big interruption of game flow), but opening doors and picking stuff up? no way. Also no way for dialog choices, where it makes you say the phrase (which is ok), but then it repeats it (which is totally lame)!

spoty420
spoty420

Yo two words...kinect sucks!

AzelKosMos
AzelKosMos

Pointlessly trying to shoe horn it into a game that simply doesn't need it. Changing weapons is quicker with buttons than shouting. Waste of time. They used development time and resources for this why?

AlexMK4
AlexMK4

The way I see it: The good--Could make the game flow smoother. Will probably be more noticeable on higher difficulties where you spend half the time pausing for orders. And for those who would really like to take the role of shepard, giving orders and such, I guess this is your chance. The bad-- I've yet to see how a character will respond to the orders. If the target for attacks is chosen automatically by the game, then focusing on one guy will be difficult. If the target is chosen manually with the crosshair, then it will mean that I will have to constantly switch between my targets and the ai targets. And thats not to mention how sad and lonely one might feel shouting at a few pixels.

Pewbert
Pewbert

I would feel such an idiot playing a game like this. Will not be using Kinect to play this game.

GreySeven
GreySeven

The motion control and voice input stuff is nonsense. Not to mention, Kinect did this all wrong. If the developers had been smart, they would have introduced this into an arcade, old school, market and made people seek it out to try it, field test it for five years, and then wait until consumers beg to have a device to take home for themselves. The way they did this seems like nothing more than a fad. Give it time to fade away.

d_khan
d_khan

I am NOT buying Kinnect just for this game. The Mass Effect series has always worked fine with pausing the game and issuing orders to my team. This is a nice addition to the game, but thankfully NOT a necessity.

Cartr1dgeBased
Cartr1dgeBased

that's kinda cool, might be pretty awkward at first but I imagine you would get used to it however, a mic can do all of this anyways, but they wouldn't allow that now would they?...

Hurvl
Hurvl

Waving your arms and talking to a screen are, among other things games make you do, a sure sign of "mild mental instability". But hey, it's fun right? Besides, this way you can roleplay Shepard as the weird, old man that talks to himself all the time instead of just being the cool, badass guy, which adds replay value.

SicoWolf
SicoWolf

...just no. Also, is it just me, or does this guy look like he needs a fix?

JudgeSim
JudgeSim

no one cares about motion controls.

GunEye
GunEye

Hey guys, just a question, for guys out of UK or US, that don't speak english as their first language, wouldn't that be difficult to deal with the commands?! I mean, will the software recognize any changes due to accent? I mean saying "incendiary ammo" will be kinda frustrating..no?

ResponsibleGame
ResponsibleGame

Finally , a game that makes efficient use of the Kinect's potential . And i honestly don't understand as to why people are complaining about this new feature , it's not like you need Kinect to play the game . Nevertheless , i might just pick up a Kinect this June to augment my Mass Effect 3 experience . :)

Microsteve
Microsteve

they could''ve done voice commands since day 1 via the head-set. Gimmick fail

RIIIIKU
RIIIIKU

......wow...this is just Crazy.....not like "Awesome" Crazy.....but more like "Coo-Coo" Crazy.....am not gonna stand infront of my tv Talking to My-Self insted of just Simply pressing a Button !!

mobinoo
mobinoo

it's not an obligation to use kinect! if u don't like to yell at yourself , u can press A or choose your gun manually... just use the kinect to command and choose the dialogues ...

TheTenth10
TheTenth10

I talk to people in real life, job or friends, no way I want to talk to in game characters that don't exist ; this is just nonsense trying to copy real life actions to have them onscreen, it's not gaming anymore

y3ivan
y3ivan

kinect is just pure gimmick in ME3. I m just waiting for kinect + ME3 to be the joke of the year.

Neo_Sarevok
Neo_Sarevok

These voice commands will save people a lot of time navigating companion's command list and Mass Effect wheel, but as far as using it for Shepard, you're better off just performing the actions with a standard controller. After all, there seems to be slight voice lag before the game registers your voice and performs the action. How hard is it to push one button to "pick up" an object?

MN121MN
MN121MN

I've got to agree, though voice recognition is great for ordering squadmates, it's not that great for doing other stuffs. I mean, even though it's the future, doors are still operated by sensors, not by voice...

jollybest1
jollybest1

well I've preordered the N7 collector edition for PC and I do not plan to buy a kinect for my PC just to yell at my pc ....I have nothing against Kinect but in the future they better not start forcing me to buy one just to play a game that is more enjoyable if you pay attention

MdoRandoms
MdoRandoms

Like 3D TV the Kinect is an interesting idea that will take awhile to get off the ground if it ever does. I am personally not a fan of either one and think they are pointless. It doesn't matter to me that I can use my voice to command things. If I want to do that I'll play Tom Clancy's End War (which has great voice commands).

isahunt
isahunt

Maybe the big plot twist in ME3 is that Shepard is suffering from schizophrenia. Maybe there are no Reapers. Shepard simply made it all up and has convinced a rag-tag group of aliens to travel with him around galaxy chasing ghosts. ME3 could very well end like one of those horrible M. Night movies. "As the painful reality sets in our hero struggles to keep his composure. Remembering the words of the turian councillor, that Saren was the one leading the geth. The grimace of pain runs across his face as Shepard thinks back to the destruction of Alpha Relay, which led to the deaths of 300 000 batarians, so he could stop an invasion - an invasion that was purely a fragment of his own broken mind. An invasion that would never come." Fade to black. The End.

g1rldraco7
g1rldraco7

It would be creepy doing that in a room filled with your friends.

sknight175216
sknight175216

This would make sense if Shepard was in a suit like Master Chief with an AI.

DustbusterGF
DustbusterGF

my mom doesnt like it when i yell at the TV:) Mass Effect 3's voice commands SO NOT NEEDED..........I TALK ENOUGH IN MULIT PLAY DONT NEED TOO WHEN IM BY MYSELF.... CREEPY

marco1k1
marco1k1

I've lost a lot of bother for Mass Effect but then I guess the game will probably come right round and pimp slap me with a "Oh yeah, I'm good." We'll see, oh and the Kinect is a joke if its just an over-priced microphone.