Features// E3 2010: Microsoft's Press Briefing

Posted 17 Jun 2010 15:51 by
Since last E3 my Xbox has nearly become my sole source of gaming. I play a bit on my phone (Palm Pre!) and have a rare bout of something exercise related on the Wii. Other than that my PS3 has been mostly for blu-ray watching. As such I was incredibly excited about the Microsoft press event today, and could not wait for all the big surprise games that were going to be announced... for sure, no question...

Imagine my disappointment when absolutely nothing new was announced. Even Call of Duty Black Ops was a known quantity, as was the Gears 3 multi-player.

That said, the event started off strongly, for some, with a pretty impressive CoD:BO trailer that wowed with some very tense wartime scenes and an amazing transition from a very detailed ground game to a helicopter flight sequence. The announcement that all CoD games for the next three years, as well as all DLC, will be timed exclusives for Xbox is a huge deal and quite a blow to PS3-owning CoD fans.

The trailer was welcome but unsurprising. Halo Reach looks great, certainly better than Halo 3... and Reach has space battles, of course. Or at least one space battle.

Gears of War 3 looks even more biggerer and bad asserer then ever, and has that four-player co-op.

Fable 3, which looked a bit more fast-paced than previous versions, also seems to have a more intriguing plot than previous outings - but little else was revealed as far as mechanics were concerned. Sad news as really interesting game-play innovations are the biggest draws in the Fable games.

Other than that, Metal Gear Solid: Rising had, in my opinion, an awesome trailer. Although I've been a fan of the MGS games since forever, I haven't finished one since the first due to certain quirks that always keep me from really enjoying it. Rising appears to be more action-heavy. It's a slice-'em-up adventure and looks more my speed; I think it will sit well with most Xbox gamers out there who, as far as the rest of the briefing seems to indicate, are going to be in dire need of hardcore titles.

Once all the non-surprising but very nice trailers were over it was time for Kinect. This was the real meat of the show as far as Microsoft was concerned. The company needs a chunk of the new market, casual gaming demographic so brilliantly discovered by Nintendo with the Wii and DS.

Kinect is Microsoft's route to those people. At least it hopes so. If imitation is indeed the best form of flattery, then Microsoft's Kinect game selection is hugely flattering to Nintendo.

Let's start with the slightly revised Xbox interface that was showed with Kinect. It looked very slick with some nice new transitions and bits of UI bouncing around with green and white vector swirls.

Speech control was demonstrated next and worked in a very simple but easy-to-use way reminiscent of dealing with a dull pet dog or rather slow child. Just say “Xbox” and follow this with a basic command (“Xbox, Pause”, “Xbox, Play” that kind of thing) - exactly as everyone has always imagined it would work. To me it looks like a blast.

I don't know if, in a year or two, I'll still care to play Kinect-specific games, but I can imagine that I'll get pretty used to controlling everything with voice and gestures pretty quickly. I'll be real surprised if Microsoft doesn't bring this tech, in some form or another, to Windows in the not too distant future. The video chat already works with MSN, so convergence must be a common topic around the Redmond campus.
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