E3: Reactions From Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Press Conference

Posted by Tim Sheehy on Jun 7, 2011 in Videogames |

Kinect

Earlier today, Microsoft held their Xbox 360 press conference. Many of you were probably expecting a slew of new and exciting titles, and while Microsoft had a number of multi-platform, and console exclusives that may have impressed some, many of you may have left underwhelmed. I have to admit that I joined many of you in yawning through-out and while I applaud Microsoft for once again abandoning the sales statistics in favor of announcing new products, most of them failed to appeal to my tastes. Aside from the handful of you who live for Gears of War and Halo, I have a feeling you may have felt the same.


Clearly Microsoft has spent a lot of time and effort developing titles for Kinect. The motion-based gaming has been a pain to market to the hardcore gamer, largely due to the fact that almost nobody wants to wave their arms around like an idiot. That didn’t stop them from pouring all their resources into forcing you to get with the program by incorporating it into most of their first-party franchises. On top of that, they’re trying to leverage the Kinect as the selling-point for upcoming third-party titles like Mass Effect 3 and Rainbow Six.

I found myself more impressed with the titles being offered from the third-party developers, and almost all of those were multi-platform. Below is a short list of some of the major licenses and franchises they announced.

Modern Warfare 3 (multi-platform)

The latest title in the Call of Duty franchise. If you’re big on blowing stuff up, you’re probably going to want this. The demo followed a team of operatives as they infiltrated an enemy submarine off the shore of New York in order to turn its salvo of missles against them. Looked neato, seems to do a decent job of continuing the story from the last game. Not sure if it’ll really be the same now that Infinity Ward is half the team it used to be.

Tomb Raider (multi-platform)

Tomb Raider 2011 trailer

The new Lara Croft looks gorgeous, even covered in mud. The latest title will be a bit of a reboot, as well as an origin story. The short demo they showed takes place after Lara’s been shipwrecked on an island and captured by a crazy native and she ends up having to escape using only her wits. To be honest, you probably could have thrown Nathan Drake in the same situation and it could easily pass as a new Uncharted title. Still, it looked quite nice.

Mass Effect 3 (multi-platform)

Finally set for release March 6th, 2012, the latest Mass Effect will bring an end to the trilogy. Like we’ve seen with previous titles, the combat is once again squad-based and seems to retain the action-oriented feel of Mass Effect 2. Microsoft tried to leverage Kinect support by allowing you to use voice commands to direct your squad and choose dialog. Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if you can just use a headset or camera to do the same on the PS3.

Gears of War 3

Gears of War 3

Gears of War 3 looks like more of the same. Of course, that’s not nessecarily a bad thing, but it’s pretty much what we’ve come to expect from the series. Muscles, guns, and action on an incredibly large scale. Additionally, the game will feature an expanded online experience. The horde mode — a fan favorite — will be making its return, and the recent beta has given Epic the chance to optimize your gameplay.

Fable: The Journey

The next Fable combines Microsoft’s Kinect with a first-person perspective. I wasn’t really impressed with it at first, but after taking a closer look at the visuals I can at least say the graphics and environments are quite beautiful. To be honest, I’m not fond of the idea of waving my hands around, but I suppose I can see the appeal for a younger audience.

Star Wars Kinect

Star Wars Kinect

Like most of you, I was really excited for this title. We’ve been waiting for it since Kinect was first announced a year so I’m sure many of you were expecting a bit more from it. To say the title looks unpolished might be an understatement, but then again, it’s not exactly ready for release quite yet. I’m sure they’re working on tightening up the control and eliminating as much latency as possible. Watching the lag from the movement to the screen seemed painful. The visuals on the other hand, look fantastic so far. Let’s hope they work out those kinks before the official release.

Minecraft

I’m not sure how I feel about Minecraft finally making its way to Xbox 360. In my opinion, the game’s indie roots were an intrical part of its appeal. It’s sort of a shame that they’ve decided to sell out in this fashion. Microsoft, for its part, made a fantastic investiment by securing the exclusivity. The title also boasts Kinect support, so it’ll be interesting to see how that’ll be used to build or mine accordingly.

Halo 4

Halo 4 2011 teaser

Microsoft ended their show with a look at their upcoming trilogy of sequels — yes, you read that right, trilogy — for the Halo franchise with a teaser for Halo 4.¬† Word has it that the new titles will lack the purple we often associate with the games — purple blood, atmospheres, aliens, etc. — won’t be returning and the teaser definitely lacked any of those tones. There wasn’t much to it. Master Chief¬† returns, stuff explodes, and he steps outside the ship to find it being tractored in by a large alien vessel. If you want to spoil yourself a bit, beat Halo 3 on legendary to clue yourself in to what might be happening.

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