[E3 2010] Microsoft Pre-Con Conference Recap (The long version) – Cute Tigers, Wii Games, and Audience BribesMonday 14 June 2010 @ 12:32 pm | By Vekter 3 Comments
Yup, that about sums it up. See you guys next year.
Okay, seriously though, Microsoft’s conference wasn’t that bad. I’ve seen worse (Nintendo 2008, for example). At least they showed some pretty good looking games. If Nahu’s five line synopsis wasn’t enough for you, hit up the break for the long-winded tl;dr details.
To kick things off, Treyarch showed off what they have so far on Call of Duty: Black Ops which, honestly, looks like a level pack for Modern Warfare 2. The gameplay shown involves a guerilla-style level taking the player through an underground cavern and to a Hind D, which they promptly liberate in Call of Duty style. The player then takes the helicopter and proceeds to produce more missiles than a ship in Macross. The gameplay looks anything but intriguing, but it definitely looks like it will at least be decent.
Up next, however, was what would come to be one of the diamonds in the rough that was MS’ conference this year: Metal Gear Rising. The first-ever trailer from this game was nothing but absolutely amazing. Tossing the classic stealth gameplay to the wayside, Rising will emphasize swordplay more than anything. The trailer shows off a player slicing through multiple objects at a user-defined angle, including slicing through support beams to bring an awning down on a group of enemies, slashing through a van, and slicing a mech in half. The trailer goes on to show just how accurate of an angle you can get by slicing a watermelon into nice, uniform slices. It doesn’t get much better than this, folks.
Gears of War 3 next. Nothing really special, though it did show off the amazing fact that the game has almost no brown in it whatsoever. 4 player co-op looks like it’s going to be the main draw of this title, but it looks pretty much like the exact same gameplay from 2.
Fable 3. Looks… pretty good. It better live up to Pete’s hype or I will be sorely disappointed. He made the good old “Do anything” promise again. If I recall correctly, that was a blatant lie last year. Maybe he means it this year. I doubt it.
According to Microsoft, they’ve signed a deal with Crytek to make games for them, the first of them being a cryptic little Roman gladiator looking game called Codename Kingdoms. We know absolutely nothing else about it. so far.
Halo: Reach time. Finally. Sadly, the trailer isn’t nearly as good as we thought it would be; it’s basically the same stuff we’ve seen already in the multiplayer beta. The video involves the members of Noble Team (who seem to be AI controlled, save for the player, which is sad) making their way into a UNSC base. The game looks absolutely gorgeous; even moreso than the beta did. However, after they power their way through the base to a Sabre hanger, the big surprise is shown: Halo: Reach will feature space combat. You heard me. This might actually be a huge deal, depending on how well things control in space.
Looks like it’s “No games” time next. Microsoft started showing off the odd motion controls for the menus using
Natal Kinect. Signing in looks simple; just wave your hand as you stand in front and the body recognition brings up your profile. All you need to do after that is wave again to bring up the Kinect interface, which suspiciously looks like the Wii channel screen. There’s a theme starting to form coming from Microsoft lately, and I don’t like it… Anyway, the next big Kinect thing is the voice recognition system. All you have to do to trigger a menu option is say “Xbox” right before anything on the screen and it’ll pop it up. The over-enthusiastic demonstrator uses this to play a clip from Alice in Wonderland and show off the rewind and seek functions, which look nifty as hell. The whole system feels almost like the computers from Minority Report. And that’s a good thing.
Up next is an announcement that yours truly finds rather exciting, even if it has nothing to do with games. (Remember when E3 was about games? I do.) Apparently, Microsoft has signed an agreement with ESPN to run a boatload of sports on Xbox Live. While this isn’t gaming in the least, I’ve always been a bit of a sports buff. Lots of the stuff they’re showing is pretty nifty too. Naturally, it works fine with Kinect, including motion and voice controlled instant replay and voting for your favorite team. Oh, and the best part? It’s free for Gold members.
More no games. Kinect is going to ship with video chat, making the Vision camera absolutely obsolete. They show off what might be one of the most awkward scripted conversations between two women fawning over the trailer for The Last Airbender ever. I’m extremely skeptical of the video chat function; the video they showed almost looks too perfect. Not a bit of lag involved at all. That’s just unrealistic.
And no games time is over. They just brought out Mr. “Bam, there it is” from last year’s Natal feature. Sadly, he’s not going to do anything nearly as funny this year, but it’s fun to just watch him bob around the stage like a moron. Here’s the part where Microsoft lost me this year, though; practically all of the Kinect games they’re showing this year are basically Wii titles in HD. Joyride looks pretty sweet, as does Kinect Sports. The problem is that it’s nothing we haven’t seen before; it’s just Wii titles, but a little gussied up.
Kinectimals, however, is quite possibly the most god awful cute thing I have ever seen in my life. They demo it with a cute little girl playing with Skittles the tiger and manage to make the entirety of the internet and their press conference have a cute-induced heart attack. Which was quickly broken when Skittles played jump rope with the little girl and did a Matrix Bullet time jump over the rope. What the hell.
Third party support from Ubisoft for the Kinect. There’s some good news. Oh look, a Wii Fit ripoff. Though admittedly I must say it looks a great deal more fun than Wii Fit ever did. Fighting training, zen relaxation, and actual body tracking are what is going to set this fitness title apart. Ubisoft then shows what looks to be the dark horse of the Kinect list: Dance Central. At first glance, it looks like a crappy DDR ripoff. However, once you really get behind what’s going on, Dance Central looks like DDR refined. From Harmonix, it’s a dance game and dance tutor combined, allowing people with no skill whatsoever to learn how to break it down. Like this guy.
Yes, this is the new Ravi Drums. Enjoy it. I know I did. Back to serious, though. If this game has a good track list, it definitely could be an excellent title.
Here’s the Star Wars title we’ve been hearing so much about. My god it looks like absolute trash. I’m sorry, but I really can’t say anything good; the graphics look almost like a bad live-action arcade game and the gameplay looks worse. The lightsaber duels might actually save the title, but I HIGHLY doubt it.
They’re just about done at this point. 16 launch titles for Kinect which all pretty much look like Wii titles. Microsoft knows what works, and apparently, the Wii works. Oh well.
We’re not done yet, though. In the spirit of last year’s “one more big announcement”, the one thing we were starting to think wouldn’t show finally shows. The white Xbox 360 that had been sitting on stage all show was finally revealed to be a shell covering the extremely sleek and computer-esque looking Xbox 360 slim. Though it’s looks are… questionable, the big feature in this one is built-in Wireless N. No more buying a $30 adapter to get your wireless on. Even better, the thing ships today and should be in stores later this week. Microsoft then goes on to do something extremely ballsy and turn the show into Oprah by handing out free Slims to everyone in the audience. If that’s not buying ratings, I don’t know what is.
And that’s it for this year’s Microsoft show. Comparisons have been made to Nintendo’s travesty back in 2008, and I gotta say I agree with that one. Definitely not a great show, but at least it leaves things wide open for Nintendo to steal the show…
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