E3 2011: Blackwater preview – Kinect-based shooter redefines the term “firearm”

Blackwater is an on-rails first person shooter that utilizes full body movement through the Kinect. Using your body, you can duck behind cover, kick open doors and pull yourself up on ledges. You fire by holding your arm out and aiming it at enemies. After a small amount of time holding your arm in the same place, you fire. You can also throw grenades by pulling your arm back and throwing, or as we did, frantically swinging your arms like a monkey.

We’ve got to be honest and say at this stage in development, this game is still rough. As a shooter, it doesn’t function particularly well – holding an arm out to shoot is tiring – and the concept of physically crouching behind cover doesn’t translate terribly well. It works for what it is, but this gun needs a lot more polishing. The story is said to be immersive and well-developed, but the small cut scenes we saw seemed about as deep as a kiddie pool. We’re hoping there’s more once you get into it.

Overall, Blackwater is a toe in the water for Kinect shooters, but thus far the water is looking a little too chilly. Trying to create a realistic combat experience without actually including a weapon feels odd, and pointing our arm at targets grew old quickly. But Blackwater doesn’t release until the last quarter of 2011. Hopefully, that’ll be enough extra development time to make us more eager for tickets to this gun show.

Jun 17, 2011

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