Child of Eden Hands-On: The First Hour and Kinect vs. Controller
We got to play the first three levels of Child of Eden, compare Kinect and standard controls, and stick four vibrating controllers in our pockets.
We're now tantalisingly close to the release of Ubisoft's Child of Eden, and if you're in London on 27-29 May, you can see and play the game at GameSpot UK's stage at the MCM Expo. To celebrate, we got to play the game's first three levels in the luxury of our London office's epic surround-sound setup. While we may have played the game quite a bit at various stages through development, this session let us compare the Kinect and standard controller experience, as well as try out something creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi suggested himself--that we get our vibe on by putting four standard controllers in our pockets.
For anyone who has not been paying attention, Child of Eden is Tetsuya Mizuguchi's follow-up to his psychedelic on-rails shooter Rez. It tells the story of Lumi, the first girl to be born in space in the year 2019. Lumi's memories are stored in the electrical utopia of Eden as the human race ventures deeper into space, until eventually, in the 23rd century, scientists decide to resurrect her. However, all is not well in this electronic utopia, and it's your job to save Lumi from the attacking infection.
Like the levels in Rez, each level takes about 10 minutes to play through. The first level acts as a tutorial--if you're playing with the Kinect, the right hand controls standard fire, while the left hand activates rapid fire. You can also stick both hands in the air to activate euphoria, which clears the screen of enemies and offers some respite from the constant attacks. The general idea is to chain attacks together and fire in time with the music, but since the enemy projectiles can only be fought off using rapid fire, you have to wave your arms like a madman to keep up.
There were plenty of highlights in our three-level demo--a mix of musical styles, psychedelic visuals, and huge boss battles, including one encounter with a huge whale that turned into a phoenix. One question that will be on the minds of Xbox 360 owners is whether they'll want to play with the Kinect or the standard controller. While Child of Eden will no doubt be the game to convince many hardcore gamers to buy a Kinect, the same group of people should find the game both easier and more responsive with a standard controller. However, for a game that's more about eliciting emotions than earning high scores, there's no doubt that conducting this technicolour orchestra with your body is the more immersive experience.
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When GameSpot UK last spoke to Mizuguchi, he revealed that there's an option to put up to four standard controllers in your pockets for vibration feedback. We tried it out by stuffing four Xbox controllers into our jeans--the sensation is certainly strange, but it works well in conjunction with the Kinect experience. If you have the necessary controllers and don't mind looking a bit silly, it's something you'll definitely want to try out.
Child of Eden will be released on the Xbox 360 on 17 June in the UK and 14 June in the US. If you're at the MCM Expo in London, be sure to check the game out at our booth and see it being demoed on our stage on both Saturday and Sunday.
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