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Posted by moonhead on Jun 15, 2010
E3 2010: Microsoft Xbox Press Breifing

E3 2010: Microsoft Xbox Press Breifing

I Love My Job.

It’s half past the hour of 6 in the evening on Monday 14th June and I have just taken my chair at work. I have booted up my PC and instead of doing anything remotely like work (not that I actually do a lot) I have logged onto Xbox.com to watch the live feed of Microsoft’s E3 Xbox media briefing. So what will we learn about the Xbox’s next 12 months and will there be any surprises?

We missed the Project Natal briefing held at around 3am on the Sunday because, well it was 3am Sunday morning, but it was on show here too in all its new-name glory so we will cover that here too. So more on the arm waving contraption later,  first the core games for the Xbox itself that still actually need a pad.

Call Of Duty: Black Ops

Treyarch opened the show with a bang with a on-stage play through of Call of Duty: Black Ops. After all the bad blood between Infinity Ward and Activsion it was good to see this looking very impressive indeed. The graphics looked a definite step up from Modern Warfare 2 and their was a wide mix of gameplay shown, including a very impressive sequence where you actually piloted a helicopter. After not really caring about this at all it has now definitely got me interested, a bit.

Metal Gear Solid: Rising

Microsoft actually wheeled out gaming developer legend Hideo Kojima to show some gameplay footage for the first time. There was not a great deal of it but what was there was looked absolutely amazing. The gameplay is all based around the Japanese words Zan Datsu which means to Cut (Zan) and to Take and the gameplay shown showed plenty of cutting. Series stalwart Raiden is the playable character and it looks like most of the combat uses his Katana sword. Graphically the game looked stunning and the Katana mechanics looked incredible allowing you to dismember your enemies with surgical precision. So much so in fact the very short showreel showed Raiden slicing up a Water Melon into very neat little slices. Well worth keeping an eye on. This was the only game shown by Microsoft not to be a Xbox 360 exclusive.

Gears Of War 3

You knew Cliffy (Bell End) Blezinski had to be in on the act at E3 and sure enough he was. Luckily he did not talk much, but what he did do was, with three Epic colleagues, play a live on-stage demo of 4-player story co-op on Gears of War 3. This looked incredible and considering there is still some time before its April release next year I really cannot wait. It showed off several new versions of the Lambant Locusts some of which now have tentacles that can reach round cover. There was also some new cool looking melee finishing moves plus a new grenade that you actually stab into the locusts. One unbelievably cool move showed this grenade being stabbed into a Locust and then you pushing him into another Locust. Graphically the game looks like it is dragging every last inch of visual loveliness from the Unreal engine and actually this time round looks like a true step up from the last game.

Fable 3

Peter Molyneaux everybody’s favourite gaming motor-mouth and over-promising fool took to the stage to show of some new Fable 3 footage. The game takes place half a century after the events in Fable 2. Surprisingly Molyneaux does not have an awful lot to say for himself but mentions that Fable 3 will have the usual great British sense of humour (so more farting then) and that it is a fantastical adventure to save Albion. The footage looks good if a little familiar so this time it had better deliver on its promise to rule Albion. There was still no news on how Natal would be involved either which is quite worrying considering this will be out this year. To be fair I have loved all the Fable games so far and I cannot see this disappointing me or anyone else who has enjoyed the previous titles.

Halo Reach

The star of the show for me was Halo Reach, it looked incredible! This is the first time Bungie have shown of any of the campaign and it did not disappoint. Showing a team of four Spartans landing on a planet that looked not to dissimilar to the huge open environments from the original Halo. The four team Spartan fight their way through what looks like a full-blown Covenant assault, including Elites. They reach what looks like a command centre and the Spartans then board a UNSC Sabre rocket. Once on board you have complete control including full-on space combat, dogfights the works. Graphically the game looks a million times better than Halo 3 and it all appears to be set on a grander scale than before. Basically after my positive thoughts on the Beta earlier this year and after seeing this I am  now really fired up for September 14th this year. Watch the trailer here!

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Codename Kingdoms

The only surprise core game announcement an Xbox exclusive being developed by Microsoft’s new partners Crytek. All that was shown was a very flashy cinematic of a Roman Gladiator-type, all muscles moody and muddy. No gameplay or graphics but I’d be guess that this will be a God Of War clone but that is just a guess. Mind you its interesting this is a Xbox exclusive developed by previously PC only Crytek who have only ever made FPS.

Kinect

So in terms of core games that was it the rest of the show was handed over to Project Natal or to now give the motion sensing voice activated camera its new crappy name Kinect. An odd sounding blend of the word kinetic which means ’caused by motion’ and connect, most likely made-up by some marketing idiot in a red tie. Whatever the reasoning behind it I don’t like it I would have much rather they stuck with Natal, Kinect just comes across as a bit naff.

But let’s get down to how it looks and plays. Firstly no price has yet to be given but I would expect that to be cleared up by the time E3 is over on the 17th. Microsoft are launching it with 6 exclusive games whether any of these come bundled with Kinect or not has not been announced yet either.

Firstly though they showed how Kinect will be able to control your Xbox system without the need for a controller. It looked very swish and easy to use. It would seem that once connected there is a Kinect Hub screen much like the home screen of an iPhone with different functions on their own tiles such as Games, Zune Movies and Facebook. You wave your hand at the camera and a pointer hand appears on-screen, not too dissimilar to a mouse pointer and you move that around the screen simply by moving your hand and then wave on the selected tile to open it. Voice activation looked similarly impressive you first say Xbox and then various commands after so if you’re in Zune Movies you would say ‘Xbox Play’ and the name of your film. The film then plays, it all looked very impressive and actually very Apple.

The also showed Video Kinect which is the new video chat. I’m completely not interested in this but to be fair it looked like it does exactly what it says on the tin. This presentation was not helped by the whiny voiced American women and her equally annoying fake-sounding sister in some other US state.

The 6 exclusive launch games looked very much like copies of various Wii games and mini game casual dross that most people lost interest a long time ago. They are as follows-:

Kinectimals

For the above read Eye Pet meaning super cute pet sim game for your little one’s and  WAG’s to drool over. A tiger cub was shown with a super sickly sweet little girl petting said cub and playing hide and seek with it. Please pass me the sick bag. Apparently there will be 40 different animals to play with its just a shame that for once you cannot shoot them.

Kinect Sports

For the above read Wii Sports prance around in front of your TV playing  sports and playing with an interactive Avatar crowd. Eight sports were shown in the trailer, Hurdles, Football, 10 Pin Bowling, Long Jump, Javelin, Table Tennis,  Boxing and Beach Volley Ball. It all looked very bright colourful and very reminiscent of the aforementioned Wii game. Most annoyingly this is what Rare have been working on since finishing the Avatar system. The hurdles were demoed on stage and it looked sort of fun but this Kinect thing is now filling me with dread.

Kinect Joyride.

For the above read Mario Kart or Modnation Racers. Announced at last year’s E3 as a free Live Arcade title it is now a full disc based title for Kinect. It looks awful I mean who wants to  be pretending to be steering a car with an imaginary thin air wheel. It also looks to have none of the imagination or effort put into the other 2 games mentioned here.

Kinect Adventures

Not really got anything to compare this one with but it still looked like an awful mini game compilation. The only 2 adventures shown were an assault course game called Reflex Ridge where you have to avoid obstacles and match up body shapes on-screen. The second one was River Rush a river rafting game where you can end up surfing clouds. Both of these shown could be played 2 player split screen so might be fun for 5 minutes. There will be 20 different adventures come launch I cannot wait! (honestly)

Your Shape (Fitness Evolved)

Po-faced Wii Fit copy being developed Ubisoft exclusively for Kinect. This looked shocking, complete with really bad lag and exercises designed by some fitness coach bloke to the stars. Absolute tosh.

Dance Central

Just Dance copy by Rock Band developer Harmonix. This was first introduced by a very talented looking street dancer and then demonstrated by one of the developers who had two-left-feet and rickets. Complete dross and a complete waste of a talented developer.

There will be 15 games in total available at launch the above are system exclusives. Others in the 15 include Sonic Riders from Sega and EA Sports Active to name two. With not one core game in development for Kinect it is now completely obvious that Microsoft are just aiming this at the family and casual market which is a shame as the hardware itself still looks interesting. Pricing for Kinect is still much the domain of rumour but various sites in the UK now have it down for £199 which is hugely overpriced considering the market it’s being aimed at. So we will just have to wait and see.

Xbox Slim

Also announced was the much rumoured Xbox slim. This new machine looks very sleek in a high black gloss finish. The new machine has a 250Gb hard drive and wireless N receiver built-in. The new machine is priced the same as the current Elite model at £199 and is apparently whisper quiet and will be on sale in the US in the next couple of days. Whether that goes for the UK is not known at the moment, what is known though is that everybody at the press briefing was given one to take away with them gratis, lucky sods.

Taken as whole this press briefing was a major a disappointment Microsoft have been bragging for weeks that there were some big surprise announcements in the pipeline and there just wasn’t. In fact all we got was some decent games we knew about and a load of old casual dross doled out by a bunch of over-enthusiastic corporate bell ends like Don Mattrick. Even the much-hyped Kinect turned out to be the disappointment most people had said it would be. So now its over to Sony and Nintendo lets just hope they do better.

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