Just like the years before Microsoft was the first company to do their Press Conference. While not as flashy as previous years, or as star studded, it did contain its share of surprised, and for those lucky few in the audience, free Xboxs.
Call of Duty: Black ops
The much anticipated sequel from Treyarch opened the Microsoft conference with a live demo taking place in a jungle level. In the demo we see that not much has changed graphically since the previous iterations, nor has there been much difference in gameplay, but in the demo, as we are guided through small tunnels, we see more interaction between the npcs and yourself, much like we did in the Ranger levels of Modern Warfare 2. It is clear that the overall theme of the game has changed. The game is no longer focusing on the ‘honour of the soldier’ theme of World War II instead movie into a darker theme. The quote of the trailer is “We live in a world where seeing is not believing and where only a few know what really happened.
Metal Gear Rising
Hideo Kojima appears on stage to pass the producer torch for the Metal Gear to Shigenobu Matsuyama. The trailer is crisp, showing us the FMV quality that we have come to expect from Kojima Productions, and shows Raiden easily killing a mech and ripping out what looks like an electronic spinal cord, draining its power before dropping it to the ground. The trailer boast the ability to cut what you want, how you want, and when you want with their new precision cutting mechanic, a system they show off by having Raiden accurately cut a watermelon as a joke. The trailer shows Raiden cutting the supports off of a balcony, which cause the raised platform to fall on top of the guys who are shooting at him.
Gears of War 3
The newest iteration boast two new major advancements in the series, the first being two new female gears [Anya and Same] and four player co-op story mode. They live demo show the four gears fighting the Locust in a jungle, a level much brighter then we normally see in previous Gears of War. They can pass ammo; weapons and items back and forth at will and are players are forced to work together to survive. The demo has the four gears fight what looks to be the Locust version of Doctor Octopus.
This has the world advancing 5 decades since the previous games, the world being forced into a era that looks and feels like Pirates of the Caribbean with pirates, ships, and the ship versus ship combat. The story follows two brothers, one taking over their father’s role of King in a broken kingdom and the other, your character, being allowed into freedom. Once again the god returns but the combat has been upgrades with grappled and throws combined with your magic, sword and gun.
This is the first xbox game from the new partner Crytek. Little is known about the game, the trailer looking much like Starz’ show Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
After a quick history lesson about the impact Halo has, and its recent record shaking beta, the company revealed the new demo as the four Spartans fight off against the Covenant Elites at the edge of a city being bombed from space. Ball of fire, some being the Covenant shuttles, rain down over the planet of Reach. The combat looked like the game we have been used to the three team member swerve in and out of the screen helping you in your firefights.
Project: Natal has been given a new name, using the Mortal Kombat school of spelling. They showed the actual control of Kinect. They activated music, paused and navigated films, and even activated the xbox with little more than a wave of the hand and a vocal command.
They next look at VideoKinect a video chat function that allows you to watch a video together, listen to music, and track you as you move during a chat. Despite the poor actors and the lame conversation, they showed the features of the new system.
The biggest expansion to the xbox live is the addition of ESPN. The addition, free to gold members, will allow you to watch college football, soccer, MLB, Hockey and dozens of other sports, with a pause and replay function simply on your dashboard. This introduces Kinect function that allows you to answer quiz question and polls while watching the game along with voice command of the game.
Kinect Launch Games
These games, although they seem like carbon copies of Wii titles, are the launch titles for the new peripheral.
A game that looks like a poor version of last year’s Milo, and a xbox version of Nintendogs, showed an overly cute little girl playing with an also overly cute virtual tiger who responded to voice commands, pets and movements to play games like matrix jump-rope and fetch.
Microsoft’s version of WiiSport, almost five years after, shows a Kinect function to track movement and use that as your controller. The hurdles, which needed running on the sport and small jumps to control it, failed to catch the quirky atmosphere that WiiSports holds. The avatars look like they couldn’t decide whether to be childish or realistic and failed to do either. Other sports in this game are Soccer, Bowling, Track and field, Ping pong, Boxing and volleyball.
Kinect Joy Ride
This is a Mario Kart racing clone that is controlled by holding your hands like a steering wheel in front of you to steer your kart, a method that become tiresome very quickly.
This is an obstacle course game that pits your on poor version of Indianna Jones threats like mine carts, trains, rapids and ledges, combined with fantasy adventures like cloud surfing.
Once again we saw Motion sport and Yourshape Fitness Involved from Ubisoft, this time showing off features like yoga, Ti chi, and martial arts.
Harmonix, the makers of Rock band, shows off their Kinect exclusive game with a sexy asian woman dancing to Bell Biv DeVoe’s ‘Poison’. This gamed reads your movements and puts them on the screen teaching you choreographed routines and scoring you on your result. They proved this by showing the opposite of their first dancer, a white computer programmer, successfully busting a move. With a wide track list and a promised massive list available for download Harmonix is trying for their second successful music game.
Kinect will be available on November 4 with 15 launch title.
Star Wars Kinect
The one Kinect game that surprised me was this one, the game many wanted since the Wii’s launch. It is a Kinect game that has you crossing Naboo wielding a lightsaber and force powers to tackle droids, many from the clone wars, stormtroopers, and even Darth Vader himself. Not much else was revealed but the game looked good for its early stages.
Forza 3 – Kinect
This is a Forza driving game that once again forces you to drive car, albeit accurate and beautifully looking, but holding your hands at 10 and 2. Although the driving seems tiring and similar to the kart racing game earlier, it does give you the ability to walk around the car and study all the details even allowing you to ‘sit down’ in one.
The Xbox 360 250 GB
The Xbox 360 ‘slim,’ a new smaller system with a bigger drive, was announced and shipped to retailers world wide today.
Not a bad conference, despite the poor acting and demeaning attitude of the VideoKinect sequence, but still with plenty of surprises. My main choices for the conference were going to be Metal Gear Rising and Gears of War 3, but Star Wars Kinect surprised me and for some reason I keep thinking of Dance Central (a horrible thought think of my dancing skills) which means Harmonix did something right on that presentation.
Tune in Tomorrow for Sony and Nintendo