E3 2011: Microsoft press conference impressions.

Posted: June 6, 2011 by Tony Polanco in REVIEWS

The Electronic entertainment expo officially starts tomorrow but the lion’s share of the big press conferences will happen today. Starting things off is Microsoft with their press conference. Keep reading on to see what we thought.

The show began (after a brief controller malfunction) with a demo for Call of duty: Modern warfare 3. The trailer shows Americans fighting Russians in the waters just off the coast of Manhattan. During the demo the American soldiers disable a submarine, board it and then disable it’s nukes. Speaking of nukes it makes no sense to me how a massive war of this scale can even be possible without the countries involved just nuking each other. That’s why the cold war never got hot. But it’s a video game so I guess I shouldn’t give it too much though. The demo was pretty impressive even though I’m not an fps fan. For those that are, Modern warfare 3 comes out November 6th.

Next up was a very impressive demo for the new Tomb Raider game. The demo began with Lara tied up and hanging upside down in a creepy looking cave. After getting free (and badly injuring herself) Lara makes her way through the dark caverns. The game looks amazing and unlike any other Tomb Raider game. What was very Tomb Raider was the platforming and puzzles. Lara also has a new ability not unlike Assassin’s creeds eagle vision that helps her take notice of items of interest in her environment. The demo ended with Lara reaching the surface and what appears to be a ship graveyard. The game is due to be released in the fall of 2012.

Peter Moore hit the stage and briefly mentioned some upcoming EA sports games such as Kinect sports, Tiger Woods, Madden, Fifa, Sims 3 pets and Family game night 4. All of these games will be kinect enabled in some form. This was just a small taste of the kinect news that would take over half the conference. But before that we got to see one of the most anticipated games…Mass effect 3!

Ray Muzika appeared on stage and revealed that Mass effect 3 would be kinect enabled. You can use the kinect to not only choose what you want Commander Shepard to say during conversations but to give your AI squad mates orders. The all too short demo took place on the Salarian homeworld where you team meet up with your old team member Mordin Solis. Mordin needs your help to protect a Krogan female. The game doesn’t look very different from Mass effect 2 but that’s fine since that means it still looks incredible. One thing that was different was mellee combat. Shepard uses and omni-blade and it’s really brutal when he stabs enemies in the gut. The demo ended with a Cerberus agent (inside of a huge mech) landing in front of Shepard and company ready for a fight. Very cool indeed. Mass effect 3 will be released March 6, 2012.

The gun action kept on going with a demo for Ghost Recon: Future soldier. The demo mostly showed off how you can customize your weapons using kinect. You can view and take apart the guns with gestures from your hands. You can also use voice commands to customize your guns or to give squad members orders. According to Ubisoft, all future Tom Clancy games will have kinect support of some sort. The way that the kinect was used for both Mass effect 3 and Ghost recon was very impressive. It’s a shame that the next kinect enabled games fell back to the gimmicks and childishness of last year’s MS conference. We’ll get to that shortly but first…

Xbox live will be getting some new features that are meant to make the Xbox a real hub of entertainment and not just video games. The new XBL experience will have kinect functionality (a running theme of this MS conference), youtube support, and be compatible with Bing. You can use Bing with voice commands and it seemed to be mostly responsive.

President of the UFC, Dana White appeared on stage to show off an interesting feature of the upcoming UFC game. You can place bets on matches (you use points not actual cash) and compete against friends.

Gears of war 3 was presented by Cliffy B and Ice T as they played a co-op mission where the Cogs have to take out a giant sea monster. After running around and shooting at small monsters, the Cogs get to the outside of the ship and with mech suits, attempt to take out the very Kraken from God of war 2 sea beast. The game doesn’t look any different from past Gears games but the action was still over the top and that is all that Gears fans really care about. Gears of war 3 will be released this fall.

A demo of the new Crytek game Ryse was shown after the Gears of war 3 demo. The game takes place in ancient Rome and is yet another Kinect controlled game. Microsoft really wanted to bring the point home that kinect was for the hardcore as well as the casual. This point was later undermined.

The long rumored Halo: Combat evoled remake was shown. The graphics have gotten a significant revamp and the anniversary edition will have new maps and be fully playable over Xbox live. It will be out later this year.

After Halo, Forza 4 was presented and….also has kinect controls. I don’t know about you guys but pretending to be driving a car with your hands in the air looks ridiculous. But the game looks very nice even though it still doesn’t come close to looking as good as Gran turismo 5.

Sadly this is when the conference went downhill fast with a slew of silly kinect games.

Fable: Journey appears to be a kinect controlled light gun game. There isn’t much to say about this one. You’re on rails and you shoot monsters with gestures from your hands.

Minecraft was also mentioned to be coming to the xbox this winter and will also have kinect compatibility.

An extremely sickening demo for a kinect enabled Disney game was shown and..yeah it wasn’t for guys like me. You can take a virtual tour of Disney land and participate in various mini games. The worst part of the demo was these two horrible kid actors pretending that they knew what they were doing or what was going on. Just terrible. I don’t think even the target audience (very small children) will like this.

The much awaited Star wars kinect game was demoed and it was pretty much a complete disaster. The controls were extremely unresponsive. The player would do a move and the character would do it about 2 seconds later. I don’t know how they decided that this game was ready to be shown. The graphics were nice and all but if you don’t have precise controls then what is the point? Call this a big fail.

In the part that hurt me the most, game legend Tim Schaffer came out on stage to present his company’s new…Sesame street game. The game was demoed by a fake father and son and the kid was just as annoying as the previous two kids. The game is so kiddy that it was hard to keep focused during its presentation. You get to dance along with the cast of Sesame street  or something. This was probably the low point of the entire show and may be one of the lowest of the entire conference.

Master of Kinect, Kudo Tsunoda came out next to show off Kinect fun labs. With KFL you can create your own stuff by scanning it. You can also scan yourself with it to make a truly unique avatar. The results were pretty horrific even though the lady who scanned herself was very good looking. You can also use a function called kinect finger tracking to draw stuff on your screen. Why you would need a function like this is beyond me but it’s there. You can try it out now as it will be available today on XBL.

Kinect sports 2 was up next and it will have mini games of skiing, tennis, golf and football. Demos for golf and football were shown. Both games have voice command function as well as motion controlled aspects. The demo for the football game had really bad actors pretending that they were having fun. A running theme with the actors of this conference I guess.

The last Kinect game shown was Dance Central 2. Thankfully this demo was very short. The new dance central will let you bring over songs from the first game so that’s a good thing if you’re a fan of the series.

Microsoft ended the conference off on a high note by showing a teaser trailer for Halo 4. The trailer had Master Chief trying to make it out of a crumbling space ship. It ended with him looking at a giant structure in space. Halo 4 will mark the beginning of a new Halo trilogy and will come out in the fall of next year.

The conference began strong but when it went into casual Kinect territory it went downhill fast. The awesome demos for Modern Warefare 3, Mass effect 3, Gears of war 3 (lots of threequels eh?) and Tomb Raider were almost ruined by the utter crappiness of the childish Kinect titles. I realize that Kinect has sold millions of units (thanks to being shown on Oprah) but I don’t see how anyone can claim that this is the direction that the gaming industry needs to head into.

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