The Microsoft E3 2011 presser just wrapped up a little bit ago… and though this will likely be very sloppy and under-edited, I thought I’d do a quick post on my thoughts of what was shown.
- They started strong with a demo of what looks to be an early section of Modern Warfare 3. While I’m starting to lose the “Oooh” factor with these games, I have to admit that the first time the player broke through the water to see New York getting demolished, I breathed a very whispery “oooh.”
- Next up was a quick demo of Mass Effect 3. It doesn’t look like anything has changed that much graphically or gameplay wise from ME2, except of course that you can now actually speak the line in the dialog menu to select it — but WHO THE HELL WOULD WANT TO DO THAT? I mean, immediately after saying that line, Shepard says something completely different. Those menu prompts were best read silently as a general statement as to what Sheapard would go on to soliloquize in much more depth. No one will use this. Now, the voice commands in-combat are a different story; saying “Liara – singularity,” instead of pulling up the menu could lend itself to a more streamlined combat system.
- The gun-smith stuff using Kinect in Ghost Recon admittedly looked cool, but once again, we’re hitting the same old point where the payout for those gestures, while cool-looking, could be done much more quickly and efficiently with a controller. I mean, actors waving their hands around in Minority Report looked cool, but someone with a mouse right next to Tom Cruise could have done the job much faster. So likewise, I just don’t think that this Kinect gimmickry will catch on to any large degree.
- The new dashboard looks to be much improved, with new tabs for each section of content on your box. Youtube is now there… yay!..? And Bing. I almost decried this at first, until I realized it does streamline the search process that is still laboriously long and labored in its current iteration. This may actually be a worthwhile addition. Also, live TV and DVR functionality… although, we got no real details. Who are the partners? What can I watch? Is it part of LIVE or a separate subscription (more likely)? I need answers. And while I’m not particularly a UFC fan, the menu overlay stuff for the fight looked really cool — kind of like an upgraded version of the stuff already on the ESPN channel of LIVE.
- Cliff and ICE T!!!! came out to demo a small section of Gears of War 3… that, well… looked like more Gears of War. And Ice T announced that he was getting the group Body Count back together to do a song exclusively for the “Horde Morde… uh… Horde… MODE,” to which Cliff was like, “Kay. That’s cool I guess. Thanks. Bye.” Really underwhelming… but that’s what I expected.
- Short teaser of Ryse – a new Crytek engine powered first-person Kinect game set in Rome. It looks… well, very early. Just a tech demo teaser reel. Again, mainstream Kinect stuff is just not going to fly. Ever.
- Ahhhhh-ahh-ahhhhhh-ahhhh-oooooh-aahhhhh-ahhhhhhhhhh. The chorus of monks announced the long-rumored Halo Anniversary game which remakes the entire campaign with new visuals. According to David Ellis on twitter, the graphics can be switched between new and old on-the-fly, though I’m not sure why anyone would want to. Also, apparently the “7 Classic Maps” won’t be in a multiplayer mode for Halo Anniversary, but rather for Halo Reach… which makes sense. They wouldn’t want to fragment the audience that’s still very strong in Reach. These maps will be made by Certain Affinity.
- Fable: The Journey – yawn. First-person spell casting where it looks like everything auto-targets to such a high degree that it won’t matter what silly motions you make. Just flail around until the game ends. Looks like a tech demo still as well.
- Minecraft coming to Xbox 360 with Kinect support. That’s cool, I guess… if I cared anything about Minecraft.
- Disneyland Adventures looks legitimately fun for the kids. Being able to visit the entire theme-park virtually and then hop into interactive portions from all the different Disney properties like Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland (though it looks like it will be mostly the same game mechanics for each one… just different environments)
- Then there was Kinect Star Wars… which looked even more ludicrous than the way-early teaser they showed two years ago. Again, the Kinect just doesn’t seem capable of capturing any one-to-one movement correctly… and I just don’t want to flail around in front of my TV to feel like I’m using the Force. Also – “LIGHTSABER ON!” No Jedi would ever say that…
- Sesame Street looks very cool for small children… though the tike on stage had trouble getting Kinect to recognize his gestures. Tim Schaffer definitely had the best stage presence of anyone onstage during the conference though — the rest were just automatons going through lines of a script.
- And Kudo Tsunoda takes the stage to unveil Kinect Fun Labs – the group of “toys” to keep you occupied while all the studios continue to scramble to actually make anything that vaguely works, or is even remotely fun, for Kinect. These looked cool, but it’s obvious it’s just filler…
- Kinect Sports Season 2 - Golf looked … okay. Then there were the two meat-heads on stage screaming “BLUE 42, HIKE!” for the very scripted, tech demo-y Football segment. Again, completely underwhelming.
- Maybe the only legitimately good game for Kinect (at least as far as I can tell from reading about peoples’ impressions over the last year) was Dance Central, and it looks like the sequel, with full song imports from the first game and multiplayer dancing, will only improve on that. Maybe the only reason to have a Kinect… for now.
- And then finally, HALO 4. I mean, we all knew it was coming, but it seems a little odd to announce it this year with such a small teaser. Couldn’t this have waited until next year… and then it would have been more exciting that it was coming in just a few months, instead of late next year. And of course, there would have been more to show. Also, why is the Chief’s armor so different? Did lying in that cryotank for however many years (decades, centuries?) automatically upgrade him to the new crotch-less, white MK VII Mjolnir armor? Who knows? But it’s Halo… and I will play every one in this new sequel.
And that’s that… my thoughts on the Microsoft presser. The EA conference is coming up, so I may post some more on that later, and I’m sure I’ll have something to say about the Sony presser later tonight.
Wish I could be there experiencing all this live with my fellow game journos, but in this age of live-streaming, I guess I don’t even have to.
Now to check out what’s been going on at Apple’s WWDC keynote.