An armchair view of E3 2010: Microsoft

Xbox 360 Conference: June 14th 6:30pm GMT

Even before this started, it was already known that Natal had become Kinect. I’m still trying to work out why they think that name is better. In fact, I’m willing to bet money on people accidentally calling it Kinetic for the first year. Predictions going in: Kinect priced around £99.99, 250gb 360 priced around £250, Metal Gear Rising gameplay trailer and every Kinect game shown being far more underwhelming than the Milo demo from last year.

  • Show opens with a Call of Duty: Black-Op trailer. “A lie is a lie.” Must be referring to those royalty disputes.
  • Mark Lamia then takes the stage to talk about Black-Ops while playing it. I say talk about it, but he can’t seem to do both at once (it’s a rare trait to be able to do that well). Two minutes of cave crawling, later it cuts to jungle romping and brazen helicopter theft. Generic Call of Duty battle ensues.
  • Don Mattrick takes the stage. His 360 avatar is better dressed than he is. Announces all add-ons and map packs for Activision games will be out first on 360. Goes on to use the word ‘transforming’ to exceptionally annoying degrees; I am briefly distracted by a stray tuft of hair on the left side of his head. Kinect is shown and spoken about.
  • Popular ‘friend’ of Mattrick, Hideo Kojima, takes the stage. I’m astonished his ego fits into such a small theatre.
  • First gameplay of Metal Gear Solid: Rising. That was some impressive swordplay. I’m now far more interested in it than I thought I would be.
  • Phil Spender up next. Blathering on at length, fluffing his lines and almost forgetting who Marcus Fenix is. Big whoops on his part, since Cliffy B is on now.
  • Gears of War 3 is played four player co-operatively on stage. Some fun arm beating action proceeded by skewering. Grenade tagging and kicking human shields as well as weapon switching between characters. Lambent enemies make an appearance, think Flood mixed with calamari. Incredibly forced and obviously fake ‘team-talk’ from those on stage continues throughout. Cliffy B finishes by saying they will be previewing a new game mode called ‘Beast’ at the show.
  • Peter Moneymaker comes to the stage, BS screen protectors ready. Fable 3 trailer then plays, which proves to be fairly generic by Fable standards for the most part and not particularly interesting. And like that, he’s gone. Not too bad this year, Peter.
  • Phil Spencer comes back and talks about developer partnerships. The newest partner is…some gladiator? No, must be something else. God of Nasty Battles? Above Average Human of War? Turns out that it is called Codename: Kingdoms.
  • With an audible sigh (at least from me) he moves on to Halo. Marcus Lehto of Bungie comes to the stage to talk about how everybody loves Halo. Yay! Everybody loves Halo! Everyone! Yes, even you! Me? No, you! Halo Reach now and everyone will love it or else. The world premier of gameplay follows.
  • Numerous Spartans are seen, impressive unless you’ve played the beta or read the books and know what happens on Reach anyway. Other than that it’s just Halo again. Again and again. The Elites should stop say wort-wort-wort and move onto milk. But, wait! Bungie have invented one hit stealth kill animations from behind! It must be good then. Trailer ends with Bungie inventing space based combat. Shipping in September, unless you count Halo 2 since it’s been the same game since whatever year that was released.
  • Uh oh, on – stage mic problems momentarily interrupt talking about Kinect yet again. “Ron” shows us how Kinect works. He waves to sign in and waves again to get to a controller free menu. Sounds nervous. Possibly because he’s worried people will notice it looks exactly like the Wii main menu. Voice recognition for those too lazy to move their hand. Best not tell him that people have done voice commands before either.
  • Kinect clearly improves productivity, as the demo ends with a plug for Zune, Windows Phone 7 and the various websites that have partnered up (Last.FM and so on).
  • Laura” gets to demo ‘social experiences’. She speaks about the benefits of not wearing a headset while wearing a headset. We get to sit in on “Laura”s video chat. I’m on the edge of my seat here. Horrible back and forth. The camera stalks you. I can’t let you do that, Dave.
  • On a slightly more positive note: integration with Windows Live Messenger. On a less positive note for the British: ESPN for 360. The hosts appear on stage to talk about the thing we just saw. Amusing world cup joke distracts from the fact the black 360 pad Josh is holding looks too much like a PS3 controller at that angle. Seems that it is a free service. ‘Free’ for gold members I bet. Yup.
  • Kudo Tsunoda takes the stage to talk about Kinect even more. You’d think he would have dressed up for the show. Looks like a tramp, sounds like a sports coach. Midgets take the stage. Oh, wait. Children. Those guys. Ugh.
  • Kinectimals. Looks like Milo has been replaced by a tiger called Skittles. From a legal standpoint that’s probably a good move. Awwwww, wasn’t that adorable? No.
  • Next is Kinect Sports. Now you can run and on screen you will run, all that’s missing is a Wii remote. It’ll also have bowling, football, javelin and other various Olympic type events. It really is just Wii Sports for Kinect.
  • Third game for Kinect is Joyride. It seems to me that holding your hands as if you were driving a car for any length of time would get really painful.
  • The next game is Kinect Adventures. “Designed to get you up off the couch when you play” – what if I’ve had a long day at work and I am quite happy staying on my couch? You jump, dive and dodge. To be fair to it: even if it isn’t meant for the ‘fun’ weight loss market, it’d probably be really good for that.
  • A second demo of the same game, this time river rafting. More fake chat. Maybe they’ll crash and hurt themselves or the left one will accidentally slap the one on the right. Play it naked for optimal fun and share with family and friends through Facebook.
  • Now for some trailers of third party Kinect game. As expected: fitness related and very dull looking. Will this be called Kinect Fit? Place bets now…
  • Your Shape: Fitness Evolved from Ubisoft, oh well.
  • A live gameplay demo follows the trailer. You don’t need to watch this. Imagine Wii Fit without holding a remote and you’ve got exactly what it looks like. “Now let me scan your body”…yeah, you do that. I dislike that they keep referring to it as a game, really. It’s a fitness aid, probably a really good one for those who don’t like gyms, but it is not a game.
  • Some horrible breakdancing game from Harmonix is next, Dance Central. Nothing much to say on that, better than dance mats but still looks embarrassing to play. The second person to demo the game defines embarrassment. This screams “I don’t have a girlfriend, but dammit I can dance.”
  • Phil Spencer returns to recap everything we just saw. Because our attention spans are that short. Yes they are. Don’t lie. The launch date for the US is November 4th with fifteen launch titles.
  • The Kinect Star Wars game trailer plays with actual gameplay. Looks a lot like bad blue screen but at the same time I bet it’s probably fun to play. It’s probably an instance where no remote isn’t as good as having one for that authentic lightsaber feel (substitute with a loo roll?).
  • Forza is up next, forgive me while I drift in and out for a while due to disinterest. Kinect integration in an HD game makes the Wii seem very small and growingly insignificant mind you. But with no remote or pad does that mean everything (including acceleration in this case) is on the rails?
  • Up close examination of a car, for people far too obsessed with cars.
  • Don Mattrick is back yet again talking about Xbox’s past and more about Kinect and why you need to buy one or everyone will think less of you. I get the feeling this is going to be the new Xbox model to finish with.
  • Yup, the new Xbox 360 design. Looks like someone sat on it. It’s smaller than the original, quieter, 250gb drive and Wi-Fi. Big surprise is that it’s the exact same cost as current models and that it will be shipping out to retailers (in the US at least) this week. Oh, and everyone in the audience gets a free one…
    And with that, it’s over. Far too focused on Kinect overall and no real surprises. Only interesting thing was the gameplay of Metal Gear Rising which has made me interested in a MGS game for the first time since MGS2.
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Written by Ian D

Misanthropic git. Dislikes: Most things. Likes: Obscure references.

3 comments

  1. Mindbendo /

    No no no, general consensus says MGS3:Snake Eater – with the oldskool cam – is the best in the series.

  2. timmy! /

    i agree 3 was the best metal gear, rising looks like its fun. i just hope that the story arc is on par with the other metal gears (and not as hookie as MGS4)

  3. Kevin M /

    Kinect looks pretty poor to be honest, with far too much focus on casual shovelware rather than proper games. Sony at least showed a few core games at their show. Also Gears of War 3 and Halo Reach are a little underwhelming as well, and as for that Star Wars game, oh dear! I do like the new Slim 360 mind you, especially if it’s as quiet as they say it is, and MGS Rising is looking pretty damn good as well. I have to say I thought Nintendo had the best show, and the 3DS looks pretty damn amazing.

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