Monday, June 6, 2011

Microsoft E3 2011 Press Conference Recap

Microsoft kicks off E3 proper with their press conference showing off what's next for the Xbox 360 and Kinect. Love or hate their direction on gaming especially with Kinect, they will be okay with their upcoming lineup.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 started off the show with a bang because its Call of Duty (Also, shoutouts to reconnecting controllers!). This is probably the best demo level they have showed in a E3 presser starting underwater and then raiding some submarine outside a messed up Manhattan. Besides all the setpieces filled with craziness, it is the same old shooting fans have been addicted to for years. For Microsoft, this started off a shooter-heavy conference as expected.

Next up was a Tomb Raider (Reboot) demo and it definitely looks good even though it is still coming out next fall as mentioned when I put up the trailer a couple days ago. I'm not as annoyed with Lara's voice yet compared to some folks and the theme of survival is definitely implemented well so far. I expect this game to be a game of the show contender among the interwebs.

A big theme of Microsoft's presser this year is the evolution of Kinect and how more games are getting integrated with the controller-free technology especially voice control (As demoed during Mass Effect 3 - no wonder it got delayed?). With Mass Effect 3, you can say the dialogue tree commands as well as tactical commands too during battle. Its nice that ME3 has some Kinect support, but it is not "omg I have to get a Kinect" worthy, which is the case for most of the titles shown off this morning.

Tom Clancy's Chost Recon: Future Soldier still exists and Ubisoft is going hard with Kinect support from the Minority Report-like gun customization to actually shooting without a controller. As expected, shooting with an invisible gun is weird and most people would still prefer controller, but this demo proves that a well-known franchise like Ghost Recon would have shooting controls via Kinect.

On the Xbox Live front, Microsoft to bring more services to the console from YouTube, searching by Bing, and finally live television on the fall dashboard update. My issue with Kinect still to this day is saying Xbox first and then the certain command (imagine saying Xbox... Bing a lot) as it looks they're not going to change that. One of the more impressive feature announcements though is the UFC app as Dana White came out to show off how UFC fights can be viewed on the 360. This can be pretty sick when watching live PPVs calling who wins the fight, comparing those answers across Xbox Live, and watch previous fights based on the fighter.

Gears of War 3 once again gets the press conference treatment as Cliffy B and special guest Ice T demoed a never before seen campaign level. I always loved the campaigns in the Gears games and this one is no different delivering crazy moments. Mechs are introduced for the first time in this demo (who knows if they're playable multiplayer... probably not for balance reasons). I'm still stoked to play this with someone else since I don't have a Xbox anymore.

Crytek's Codename Kingdoms is now called Ryse and also features Kinect controls. Finally, a hardcore first-party Kinect game? This is still ways off as it it coming out next year.

After being rumored for years, the Halo remake is finally revealed as a 10-year anniversary edition. Everything is remade in HD from the campaign and the multiplayer (the maps are in Reach rules though). Actually, it is pretty cool to see those levels again in better form. The campaign can be played also by online co-op. The surprising thing is that Halo Anniversary is now a fully priced retail release, which is okay because it is Halo and people would buy it no matter what the price is, but if it was downloadable though, that would of been way better. The Halo remake will be released on November 15.

Forza Motorsport 4 is out this October and another trailer that uses Kanye's "Power." Yup, people are gonna get sick of that song by the end of the week (The song was used better for the Saints Row: The Third trailer anyway).

Everyone's favorite British dude that loves to talk, but can't back it up Peter Molyneux is back showing off Fable: The Journey. This Fable game has Kinect controls and the dude playing was sitting down!!! (a first for E3 demos!!!!). Anyway, if you like Fable and support Peter's ambitious claims, then Fable: The Journey is for you when comes out next year.

The only "no one expected this" announcement out of Microsoft's E3 presser is having Minecraft exclusively on their console. This is pretty big having one of the PC's latest successes only on your console especially for those creative minds along with Kinect support.

Now to the casual Kinect part of the show...

Disneyland Adventures is basically Kinect Adventures 2 and this is gonna be pretty cool for the kids. Then again, would you rather take your kids to the real Disneyland than get this game? Those kids acting though during the demos made me cringe.

Briefly teased last year, Kinect Star Wars is back and still looks pretty bad. Sure, a Star Wars Kinect game sounds good on paper, but the demo felt laggy with the hand motions. Plus, saying "lightsaber on!" is also a bad idea. Again, kids would love this, but I'm not sure about anyone else. Even if Disneyland Adventures and this game suck, they will still sell just by the brands alone.

Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster was also shown off thanks to Double Fine's Tim Schaefer. Those two together are pretty much a magical combination as the game looks pretty cool and also out this fall for Kinect.

Kinect Fun Labs sounds like a neat idea too for bringing more Kinect apps out to the market such as avatar creation, drawing, object manipulation, and more. Kudo announced that the thing is available now on Xbox Live and free for people to mess with.

As much I want to do call this Kinect Sports Resort, Kinect Sports Season 2 is here with new sports like football, baseball, and golf. As you'll see, Kinect actors are pretty bad especially during the football demo.

In no surprise, there's Dance Central 2, which will improve everything the first game didn't do well on. More modes, multiplayer dancing, and all songs from Dance Central 1 importable are just some of the things why the sequel is better. Its gonna be some good times at parties when this game is around this holiday season.

The bombshell that ended the conference is the announcement of Halo 4. Surprisingly, its the beginning of a whole new trilogy for Master Chief and Cortana as it is out next fall.

That's it for the Microsoft Press Conference at this year's E3 as I enjoyed what they are gonna offer for the next year. Conference-wise, it is on par with last year's, but it seems like they know what they're doing for all audiences. They have the casual Kinect games, more services supporting the console, Kinect support for the core titles, and a good enough first-party lineup despite being franchises you already know for years. Who would of thought that Microsoft announces Halo 4 after Bungie's departure from the franchise? They are still not willing to take any chances with new IPs for the core audience as they stick to what works giving them a lot of money. The Kinect may still be gimmicky for certain audiences, but it is successful whether people like it or not and it is here to stay for a while. Microsoft did good enough this morning as we'll see what Sony has in mind later today.

No comments: