BitSnark

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E3 2010: Microsoft Live E3 Media Briefing Report

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Like all the other highlights I shall be doing, this will be done in a shorthand-esque format style to ensure a timely delivery of the briefing highlights.

-Media Briefing Starts

We open with a video Call Of Duty: Black Ops. Explosions and stuff, quick cuts between different action packed scenes. This seems like the same trailer which has already been released.

Hmmmm, some sort of map exclusivity, ala’ Modern Warfare 2? I wouldn’t rule it out.

Trailer is done and we go to Mark Lamia, head of Treyarch, developer of the Black ops.

On-screen presentation begins of black ops.

Crawling along a muddy corridor, ephasis on stealth and Ooooh! scary set pieces. Lots of gore too. More so than we usually see in a CoD title.

Just saw a guy jump out and get planted in the face. Looks like they are loving their shock tactics. Emphasis seems to be on atmosphere. We skip now to a jungle scenario. The player (mark lamia) and an AI buddy try to take a downed helicopter. A firefight ensues along with lots of good ol’ CoD ironsight aiming and grenades a plenty. For an aging engine, the graphics sure look nice still. Lots and lots of incidental dialogue; seems to be more of a story this time around.

Now the helicopter is in the air, flying through the jungle firing missiles at everything and everything creating lovely explosions, fire and death. Visuals look even more impressive from the helicopter view. Framerate isn’t perfect, but the sheer amount of fire, explosions and smoke style effects more than make up for it.

And that is it. Mark is gone.

Don Mattrick Senior MS Entertainment VP has showed up. He is announcing an exclusive multi-year agreement with MS which means that get map packs first for every CoD game for next three years.

A game-changer for CoD fans possibly.

Mr. M starts talking about expanding Xbox’s entertainment audience. References Halo, CoD and Gears Of War. Now he reaffirms the name of Project Natal, it is called Kinect as was revealed yesterday.

And now Hideo Kojima comes out. A tap shoulder gesture? No, just a shake of hands.

Metal Gear Solid: Rising footage to be shown. Kojima leaves and MGS: Rising Associate Producer comes out and begins waxing lyrical about MGS: Rising. First footage is coming on now. It is fully motion controlled.

Intro credits start with a close look at what must be Raidens sword, followed by the KJ Productions logo. We cut to a warehouse. And a cyborg is stood there, crunching bullet casings under its feet, stalking the corridors looking for Raiden, who promoptly appears and cuts the cyborg into pieces with his sword. Graphics appear real-time. More in game stuff. Looks like Devil May Cry meets MGS with motion control. But fucking awesome.

We now get a talk about exclusivity and Kinect.

Apparently, all games from this point are 360 exclusive.

Hmmm, I doubt that.

On comes CLiff ‘Dude’ Bleznski. Live gameplay demonstration of 4 player Campaign co-op for Gears Of War 3 coming up.

We cut to a massive battle in a forest, with a locust tearing off some dude’s arm and literally killing him with it. Usual cover and shoot play is the order of the day here. One of the players goes down and is revived.

Massive new monster comes out of the ground and spews eggs which explode and create other monsters. Freaky. Visuals look sharp as expected. Big bad boss creature appears and is promptly throwing cars around like feathers. Looks like a cross between a beserker and The Darkness. Someone triggers off a Hammer of Dawn, in which the new effect looks pretty sweet.

Big boss doesn’t give up, jumps into the screen and we are over. Cliff says that a new mode called ‘Beasts’ will be unveiled.

On comes Peter Molyneux.

Demonstration of Fable III incoming. Release date given for October 26th.

John Cleese is voicing the butler as we know. SImiliarly themed sword ‘n’ magic gameplay mixed in with exploration. We see deserts, snowy wildernesses, sea battles and much more than the usual foresty, fairy tale environs that the previous games had.

Upcoming exclusive title from a ‘leading developer’. Seems to be a dark fantasy title, with a roman as the lead character? Oh shit! It’s made by Crytek! Codename Kingdoms is the name. No other details given. FUCK! Is that it?!? Still, Crytek being on board for an exclusive is interesting regardless.

Bungie Creative Director comes on. Halo Reach demo coming on. 3.2 million people played the Halo Reach Beta. World premiere of single player campaign coming. Here we fucking go….

Halo orchestrals start up followed by the Bungie logo and the MS studios logo. We are in space looking at a planet. Earth (I think). Halo Reach logo appears. We now go ingame to a squad of spartans being dropped off. We see ODST’s falling from the sky and joining the fight. Lots of stuff going on. This reminds me of the original Silent Cartographer level from Halo 1.

A pitched battle takes place up a beach leading into a base. Naaaasty execution on an elite – that guy got gutted six ways from Sunday! We are in a central chamber of some sort. Now the chief boards a ‘sabre’ – some kind of orbital drop pod, which takes him into the sky. It all looks quite epic. And then the demo closes with.. ship to ship space combat?! WTF!

Now we are talking about social features. Netflix, Facebook, Last FM.

Now we’re on to Kinect. He’s talking about a ‘smart’ living room and interface free interaction.

Now we get a Kinect demo of interface use – signing in.

Basic gestures are used for navigation. Hands are used for navigating menus. Voice activation is used. You want ‘Zune’, just say ‘Zune’ and hey-ho, it appears.

Hand gestures become a mouse pointer as such, allowing complete interaction with features on the screen. Seems ‘fairly’ accurate. He just paused a video with his voice, with ‘Pause’.

This reminds me of that house Back To The Future 2 where everything is voice activated. Zune music is being shown and interacted with Kinect. We be a while before the UK sees Zune Music I think.

All current live social experiences can be used with Kinect.

Xbox Live is announced as going to Windows Phone 7. Meh.

Now we’re back to talking about how Xbox Live can let us communicate with our friends and families. Video Kinect is shown. Seems like you can video conferencing with both Live friends and people who are on Windows Live Messenger. Content can be viewed and shared between conferenced users. Both people can watch the same video together.

Head tracking is shown for Kinect. Kinect follows you… Freaky, but at least it always keep you in the shot.

More voice activated commands are shown to shut down the video conferencing.

ESPN logo and 360 logos appear. Seems like ESPN is coming to the 360 On demand. Over 3500 events can be streamed, downloaded and watched collectively among friends online.

Josh Elliot and Trey Wingo (?) ESPN people I believe, come on stage. A bigger deal in the US methinks.

They begin showing the live events that are available on 360 to be streamed in HD. Seems to be a fair bit (3500) with more to come after the first year. Nice little community style feature asking you to vote for a particular team for example. Using the voice activation aspect, the video can be replayed, slowed, sped up and stopped. We get the message MS, I don’t need a remote anymore.

Still waiting for the core Kinect games which aren’t called MGS: Rising…

Aaaand the ESPN guys are gone!

No extra cost for the ESPN stuff… Cool.

Kudo Tsunoda comes out, the Kinect big cheese.

We get some choice Kinect soundbites… Well, the same ones we heard earlier anyway.

Six Kinect launch games are about to be shown.

First up, a girl on stage is looking for a tiger. It’s a cute tiger… This must be Kinectamals. Not my bag, the interactions look decent, with the tiger doing all of her commands (who knew Tigers were so obidient). The tiger model looks pretty incredible with lots of fur shading and texturing. Goddamit, this presentation is made of sugar. But damn, if it doesn’t like it’ll do well for the kids. Now she is trying to get the tiger to jump a skipping rope, catching the rope on it’s back paw and causing it to fall. More impressive than I thought it would be I have to say.

Now bring on the core games.

Next up, looks like Kinect Sports. Shin from Rare is demonstrating the title. We get a look at track & field, hurdles. They are literally running on the fucking spot and pretending to jump in order to simulate jumping hurdles. Looks ok, not sure about how repsonsive it is; still, looks like it provides a decent workout.

Now we get a video montage of other Kinect Sports games. We get soccer, bowling, Javelin, table tennis, boxing (which looks a bit pants to be fair) and beach volleyball. Some much needed hands on time would be needed to see more conclusively how accurate and sucky or non-sucky the other titles maybe.

Now we get Joy Ride being demonstrated on stage using Kinect. Looks very bland but the idea behind it seems sound enough. Steering is done using the hands as you would imagine and seems quite responsive. They shouldn’t be charging for this though however.

Next up is Kinect Adventures. We get a demonstration of an obstacle course, with the player going along on a railed platform ducking and jumping posts while collecting medals. Each time you jump and get caught by a camera, a picture is taken of you at your most idiotic andf is shown at the end of the level. Again, seems fairly responsive but I sure as hell hopes that the pricing model reflects the basic nature of these games.

Now we are on the river rapid racing title, in which two people are being used to demonstrate. The idea being of course that they must shift their balance accordingly to keep afloat and hit the water at the correct angle and time. Again, the camera plays it’s usual tricks taking goofy mid-game photos. What is cool, is that the photos can be linked directly to Facebook.

Oooh, third party stuffs.

Ubisoft is up.

Looks like a fitness game. Big surprise. No in-game footage just a live action montage of different cardio activies being done by impossibly fit and trendy people.

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is the name. Should do well after Christmas to eliminate the festive bulge 🙂

Now we get an on-screen demonstration. The presenter is stood in the middle of a room with lots of balls and all of her movements are accurately captured, along with her clothes. All menus are interacted with motion control as you might expect. Freakily, the menus constrict around you, telling you your physical dimensions to get you going.

Personal trainers can be selected. Gym activities, yoga and martial arts can be done. Now we get a rhythym matching exercise where she has to mimic the coach’s movements, getting points for each correct movement copied. Next up are high impact exercises. Reminds me of Eye Toy fitness. Combat training is up next, with much block punching and kicking taking place. Next we get a Tai-Chi demo with emphasis on mimicking the coach correctly again. The best thing about this, is the way the system recognises how well you are doing; each movement is broken down into stages and you tick each one off as you do it. Overall the package seems to offer a genuine workout.

Where the hell are the core games??

MTV games up next.

Oooh Harmonix! (The rock band folks)

It’s Dance Central, a dance game which looks like a full body version of DDR. This looks like a full on test of the responsiveness and accuracy of the camera, which seems pretty high on the evidence of this. Looks quite impressive indeed.

The Harmonix founder and CEO is now on stage. Dance Central is due this holiday for Kinect.

He talks about Kinect realising his vision for full body dancing in a game.

DLC has been announced with extra tracks being available post launch. There are over 600 moves and many extra moves recognised directly from music videos. We get a mode demonstrated called ‘Break it down’ whereupon beginners can learn starting moves and evolve from there.

This could very well do for dancing what Guitar Hero/Rock Band did for rock in mainstream gaming.

We see him dancing on stage and the movements seem accurate and fluid. What is interesting is that the two folk stood behind him are being picked up by the camera and are intergrated into the visuals as background support dancers.

That is pretty cool, I have to admit.

MS Big Cheese Phil Spencer is back on stage.

Kinect will launch this holiday season. US Date is November 4th. Kinect will launch with 15 launch titles.

They have an exclusive ‘arrangement’ with Lucasarts. George Lucas in particular. Star wars Kinect?

Real gameplay footage coming up. Hmmm, looks very linear to me – You simply deflect laser blasts with the light saber and do the appropriate motions for the force power that you wish to use. Not convinced that it is real gameplay footage (No health bars, no HUD), but it will need some hard work regardless.

Turn 10, who made Forza are on stage.

Oooh, you can use Kinect with Forza. Again seems quite responsive, although I wonder how well it’ll do in more hectic races.

We get a trailer.

It’s a walk about interactive piece, where you can walk up to a car and look all around it, even kneeling down to look at the hubcaps. A motorhead’s dream for sure.

Now he got into the car and is looking around the inside of the car. Dashboard details, decal and everything is shown. It seems a simple concept, but the immersion factor seems undeniable.

A date was announced – 2011. Hmmm, Kinect enabled Forza 4 by the looks of it (even though ‘4’ wasn’t mentioned).

Out comes Don Mattrick again, yapping on about exclusive 360 experiences and the widespread appeal of Xbox 360.

He talks about launching a whole new ‘era’ of entertainment. Xbox 360 slim is shown.

It’s shiny black and formfactor wise a lot smaller, 250GB HDD, built in wi-fi and the price is the same. Hopefully, they’ve made it quieter too. It’s being shipped TODAY! WTF!

But….The audience each get a free 360 now!!! Bribery!!! Good lord!

No more Kinect core titles, No Kinect Price either. No FF: Versus XIII announcement and with that the MS Media Briefing is over.

Written by bitsnark

June 14, 2010 at 8:01 pm

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