Microsoft Keynote – E3 2011
Microsoft kicked off E3 2011 similar to the way they did last year; A lot of focus around the Kinect(For better or for worse). They created a new UI that looks very similar to the Metro UI being used in Windows Phone 7 devices as well as Microsoft tablet OS codenamed ‘Windows 8′. Using tiles(blocks) to represent various applications and games the UI looks very sleek and a welcomed addition to the Xbox update later on this year. Along with the tweaks in the UI, Microsoft is bringing some new features to the table. If you recall Microsoft has really pushed the Xbox 360 as Media device; The one to rule them all in the living room. The trend continues with Youtube for all your cat video pleasures, Live T.V a subscription-based live television service with DVR capabilities and combining it with Bing search which allows you to do searches on anything you have in mind. Though I lean towards more of the hardcore gamer, a device I can use to do more tasks is still something I can get behind.
After the information dump of the new UI and features, Microsoft dove head first into Kinect PR mode. They showcased a number of games that use Kinect in some way. The champion of the Kinect is getting a sequel with Dance Central 2. They showed off Tom Clancy Ghost Recon: Future Solider using Kinect to interact with gun upgrades. Using a variety of hand motions you can dissemble your gun as well as reassemble it and with voice commands you can shout out various parts to swap and install into your gun. Peter Molyneux from Lionhead Studios made an appearance and introduced the new Fable game which will use Kinect for combat. The design this time around seems to be in first person experience. In the demonstration the person used a variety of hand motions to attack his enemies which was strictly spell based. It was pretty neat overall and at one point in the demo he created an energized arrow with a variety of hand motions to throw at an enemy residing in an outpost. That particular moment caught my eye because of the elaborate hand motions to use that powerful spell. The game looks promising but they still have some ways to go especially with the recent buggy Fable 3 release. Continuing on Crytek showed a trailer of their Kinect title called Ryse. The graphics are extremely stunning as you take control of a solider during the Roman time period and in first person mode you fight like an actual gladiator. Nothing new as far as I could tell but the graphics blew me away; Perhaps a game for the hardcore crowd. Forza Motorsport showed off some nifty head tracking, voice and driving with the Kinect while a person was racing in game. Last but not least they are offering Kinect Labs which allows you to use Kinect in a variety of ways such as taking a few pictures of yourself and Kinect and software create a personalized Avatar of you clothes and all. Neat stuff there but i need a Kinect to enjoy which I don’t have at the moment.
Kinect stuff aside they showed a bit more of their lineup. They had demos of Modern Warfare 3, Tomb Raider and other games. They looked fabulous but nothing really grabbed me. I did like the GoW3 demo with Cliffy B as well as rapper and actor Ice T, where Marcus and friends battled an infected gigantic fish that was manhandling this giant battleship that was also a safe haven for a number of people. This epic scene takes place as they try to kill the invading fish showing off new enemies and their version of a mech called the Silverback which could also be used as cover for other members of your group. Eye candy galore but I’m more interested in seeing where they go with their mutiplayer with all the feedback they received during the beta. There were rumors of a Halo being remastered and they came out true. Halo Combat Evolved in being remade in HD and seemed to be using some of the functionality from Halo: Reach such as the extended kills. The biggest surprise though is that they are making another Halo game. Halo 4 being developed by 343 industries an internal Microsoft development team and is planned to be released holiday 2012. Personally I would have loved to see Microsoft come up with a new IP because as much as I love the Halo series I really want something new for Microsoft to champion as a brand. All and all the conference was pretty good. They followed in the footsteps of what they did last year, improve the console experience outside of gaming and offer some robust titles for the games. If I had to give it a grade I’d give it a B-. Nothing spectacular but they had good material yet I’m still not convinced to buy a Kinect still.