7 Jun 2011

E3 2011: Microsoft Press Conference

E3 2011 officially kicks off with its first major press conference! Microsoft is up first (followed by Sony a few hours later). Hit the jump to read my "LIVE" impressions.

First up is Modern Warfare 3. Doesn't matter what I think about this series; it's still gonna sell millions, and possibly set a new record. It's almost expected. And quite easy to see why. The movie-like quality of the set pieces set it apart from many other FPS. It knows who it is made for (the kind that enjoy summer blockbusters), so it doesn't shy away from huge explosions and constant action. Robert Bowling (probably the only big name left at Infinity Ward) is on stage to show it off, but hits a snag early on with a "Please reconnect controller" error. Ah well, shit happens. But he goes on to play on-stage quite a cool-looking sequence.

Don then appears on stage, almost heading into stats and numbers, but then refocuses on games. Phew...!

The new Tomb Raider reboot (one of many reboots over the years for this series) is up next! This new Tomb Raider kind of reminds me of a female Nathan Drake in terms of looks, but doesn't seem to have as much personality. They got the British accent right though.

Peter Moore is up next! So weird to see him as a guest on the same MS press conference he used to present. He announces EA Sports for Kinect. These include FIFA, Madden, and PGA Golf. And he steps off. That was quick! But he introduces the next speaker...

Bioware's Ray Muzyka (yay!) shows off Mass Effect 3 for Kinect (Noooooo!!!). It is voice activated, so you can speak Commander Shepherd's mind, so to say. It kinda sounds amazing, but at the same time insignificant. Who wants to talk to their game from a TPS perspective? Oh wait, you can also use voice in combat! That sounds a little more exciting! Catch phrase for Mass Effect 3 is now officially "Epic, Awesome, Fun". If I didn't remember wrongly, Mass Effect 2 was all about being "Emotionally Engaging".

Next up, we get a freeze time fly through trailer of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier. This introduces Ubisoft's segment. They show a menu system controlled by kinect gestures and/or voice. He proceeds to strip a gun. Holy shit... You can customize like 20+ parts of the gun by my estimate. Aiming is done in a weird boxing-like pose, and firing done by opening your fist. Quite hard to describe, so you'll have to go watch it in action. Looks quite well implemented, with very accurate and fast reaction from the Xbox/Kinect. Kinect seems to be shaping up to be a Move competitor in terms of hardcore games.

Microsoft now shows off a new interface, similar to the tiles of Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8. Voice control is more tightly integrated into the experience. Content-wise, the presenter says we will be getting lots of new apps/stuff on the new 360 dashboard. Firstly, Youtube. OK...... Secondly, BING search engine integration. -__-" Search for web content, as well as local videos, games and other content. Of course, all this can be voice-controlled. The new dashboard will be available this Fall.

The next presenter is... from UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). For a moment there, I thought they were going to announce a game or kinect support. Instead, they announce the live interactive broadcast of UFC matches. Moves along quickly and next is....

Dude Huge! GoW3! Ice-T! WTF?! OK, Ice-T officially has maximum gamer cred now. He's a hardcore action gamer alright. They give him a controller to do a live demo on stage with Cliffy B (or Dude Huge, whatever). At this stage, I'm watching a double stream, MS official in one window, Giantbomb's JustinTV on another. The JustinTV stream is bloody laggy though. Anyway, haven't been much of a GoW fan, so not much I can comment on except this looks like GoW.

Next up.... is Ryse. Crytek's Rome fighting game using Kinect. A short, boring trailer. Next!

Halo remastered! Halo 1 and 2 to be exact. Biggest change would be more Xbox LIVE support. This was the "Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary" game leaked just a few hours ago. Next! Moving along fast from trailer to trailer...

Turn10 is up next with Forza. Another Forza game? Yeah, Forza Motorsport 4. This is the game that was conceived and reached it's 3rd iteration in the time it took Polyphonic Digital to make GT5. Pretty soon, Forza will be catching up to the GT series! Hmm... This was yet another small talk followed by trailer. Looks good though!

Uh oh. Sir Peter Molyneux is up next, presenting to us Fable: The Journey. Can't they make a different game? I think people are starting to get tired to Fable and all it's fals- Hey, it is controlled by Kinect! It took quite a while, but Kinect is finally getting the attention it needs from Big Name Developers. The disappointing thing? This seems to be a on-rails shooter... Argh. Peter Molyneux gets off the stage before he could make new false promises.

Next? Minecraft for Kinect! Uhh ok. Kinect Disneyland adventures! Basically a virtual tour of Disneyland. Microsoft brings out the Kinect Kids (TM) to demo the... game? Tour? Ah... Those kids can't possibly beat the Skittles girl!

A trailer for Star Wars Kinect? I hear some cheers, but I'm not sure if it is from the audience or the trailer... Again, this was leaked a few hours ago. Star Wars Kinect will just make you look like the Star Wars kid... Flailing around randomly. It's on-rails, as expected, and doesn't have responsive controls. Seems like there won't be any surprises. Microsoft is probably saving the new Halo 4 trailer for later as well as a demo of Dance Central 2. I want to see Halo 4 and go to sleep already...

But then Tim Schafer steps up to show off Once Upon a Monster! They know how to do a neat looking game and don't beat about the bush. This is a kids game. A quality one too. And it doesn't try to be anything else.

=\  Kudo is up next. He announces Kinect Fun Labs. It's free. I wasn't paying attention. It seems like some sort of app store where you can get a lot of cool small apps? They show off an app that takes 2 photos (your face and your body) to create an avatar that looks just like you. Looks cool! EA should learn a thing or two from them. Another app allows you to paint in 3D space (finger tracking). Another app allows you to scan an object and create an in-game object with that. Microsoft pulls an Apple (who are coincidently presenting at WWDC right at this very moment) and announces that Kinect Fun Labs is available RIGHT NOW.

So what's next? The "sequel to the best selling game for Kinect", Kinect Sports season 2. Still has a little lag. Seems OK for a game like golf, but some fast-reaction sports won't go well with this...

Next is "the best selling kinect dance game" (wut?). Dance Central 2! Local multiplayer! Hope the tech is up to par. A short demo, and then end. Phil Spencer comes back out on stage to talk in general... Halo 4?

Yup, it's Halo 4. And Cortana calls Master Chief John! Coming soon Holiday 2012. Will be the start of a new trilogy.

And with that, MS' presser ends! Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I "enjoyed" watching the press conference! Bleh.

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