Motion Control: The Future of Halo?

Gaming, as an industry and means of entertainment, is changing. Through Nintendo’s simple addition of motion controls to their console, the future of video gaming was immensely and irrevocably altered. There are always the companies that won’t adapt to the new technology and changing times, and they’ll keep making the kind of games that gamers have always loved, but there will be many more companies trying to establish themselves as trend-setters in this new age. In the coming years, genres will be redefined, and who better to do it than some of the original innovators? Halo: Combat Evolved brought first person shooters up to the current generation, will Microsoft evolve the combat further?

The Kinect wasn’t designed with shooters in mind, so there will likely be no Halo franchise products utilizing the technology until the next generation, unless you’d count a fitness spin-off like “Halo: Reach For Your Toes”. However, in the next generation, the new Xbox may be in a unique position as the console with the strongest motion sensing systems. Although lacking in practical gaming application, the technologically impressive Kinect is a step above the remotes of the Wii and PlayStation 3 and would only need a minor tuning to be made into a powerful force in gaming. Really, all it’s lacking is… a remote. It would just take a single controller, no bigger and with only one or two more buttons than the Wii’s Nunchuk, to make the Kinect an amazing platform for shooters.

That single remote would iron out all of the potential control issues: the inability to move reliably, and the inability to shoot reliably. With it, the Halo franchise would be free to flourish, bringing in new-age motion gamers while not horribly alienating old-timey controller players. When you duck in real life, Master Chief would really duck. When you see a wall in the game, you can quickly dodge in the direction of the wall to have the Chief quickly dash to it. The standard walking would be handled on the tiny controller’s analog stick, as well as weapon switching and firing. Aiming would be as intuitive as possible, simply handled by aiming the little controller at the screen. Turning the camera would be just as easy, pointing towards the edges of the screen to indicate that you want to look in that direction. The speed of the pointing gesture would determine how quickly your character would turn. This all sounds like something that could already be accomplished on the Wii, and it is, but the player also has another free hand. That hand could be used for physical attacks, or to open doors, or disarm foes, or anything else that one would logically use a hand for. It would be a whole new type of immersion. Between the simplistic controls and the ever improving voip phone systems available to consoles, you’d get the best of both worlds, and a completely intuitive and new way to play the Halo franchise. You’d be able to formulate a strategy vocally and carry it out in real life, in real time, with extraordinary simplicity and ease.

Can you really expect a game like that to come out? Well, now that Bungie has left Microsoft to once again start their own company and Halo is owned solely by Microsoft, it seems entirely probable. Microsoft will need a title to bridge the gap between hardcore console gaming and new technology that’s viewed as something that’s exclusively for “casuals”, and Halo is easily their most popular franchise. The only question at this point is whether or not the new Halo using motion sensing systems will be a launch title for the next Xbox, or come out a few months later as a sort of savior for the system.

Ty Cobb is an avid gamer and loves to blog about the games he enjoys.  He can usually be found on his back porch soaking in the nature… oh, who are we kidding?  He’s in the basement, gaming.

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