Friday, September 22, 2006

XBOX 360 Vision Camera Review

The long awaited Vision Camera fell into my hands yesterday (thanks to the help of a very friendly EB Games manager... I forgot your gamer tag, if you read this add me to your friends list!) and I am both happy and disappointed at the same time.

For starters, I picked up the more expensive package with the 12 months of Live service. I, of course, already have a Gold account but I thought my girlfriend would enjoy it. My very first reaction was to be amazed at how small this thing is. None of the pictures I've seen have done this justice, or mentioned just how tiny the Vision camera is in real life. It stands an approximate 6cm tall. Yes, that small.

The first test was on my trusty office computer. I recalled reading that I would be able to plug it in and it would, "just work". Well, no... it doesn't. I had to install a driver for it and Windows did manage to find that driver on it's own so that's good. The camera worked in 640x480 and gave a very clear image. Take note that my office is flooded with daylight thanks to my great office window.

Later in the evening I tested in on my XBOX. At home, my 360 resides in my spacious basement and is lit by two incandescent light fixtures. This was a problem. No longer was the image crisp and beautiful, but now everything was bathed in red and very dark. This is very unfortunate but to be expected. This morning when I tried it, and the sun was out, the picture was a lot better.

Also included in the box was UNO, Robotron (both available on XBLA), 200 MS points (always welcome but not enough to buy anything useful) and the 12 month Live subscription card. UNO I had already purchased, Robotron is a boring game on it's best day so those were pretty useless.

All the features it adds to the XBOX (which I'm sure you've already heard about) are cool, but not life changing. I even found it difficult to get a decent gamer pic because of the lighting. Overall I'd say that the Vision camera isn't quite the compelling purchase that it could be unless you're into poker. Games like Totem Ball and Rainbow Six Vegas will, however, change this. The former uses the camera to control the actual game, and the latter will be a compelling use of the digimask technology (not unlike World Series Poker, but I'm not a fan of the genre). Is it cool? Oh yeah! Do you need it right the fuck now? No. You can easily hold out for a little while.