BitSnark

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E3 2011: Microsoft Press Conference Live Blog

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Right, let’s get cracking and stuff.

Low-res stream is low-res :/

MS conference opens with CoD: MW3 eh? Sounds like some sort of map DLC exclusive once again tied up by MS? (They really do have a hard on for CoD don;t they?)

Right, anyway.

Trailer starts, and lots of radio chatter.

Darkness disappears and we get an on-stage demo of what appears to be some sort of underwater infiltration mission.

LOL-Moment: His controller becomes unsynchronized during the demo 🙂

Underwater Navy Seal types swimming ahead, very set piece heavy as you would expect. That said though, you appear to be doing most of the swimming yourself.

More chatter. A sub passes overhead. The divers plant a mine on the sub. What pleasant chaps.

Mine detonates and sub sinks. Then the divers surface and we get a nice view of the (NY?) city. Pretty much right away it’s business as usual now, killing enemies and following your teammates through to the next setpiece/objective. With the sub immobilised, they go inside the subs and start clearing, room by room. So far, so CoD.

We get a timeskip during the demo, so they can show us some other stuff.

We get a breach and clear on a door with an explosive device. Bomb goes off, then we get a slo-mo killathon. Again, very little surprises here, but masterfully done all the same.

Now our dudes have to escape the sub. They do so, jets fly over head and now they are in a speed boat, screaming between two massive warships. Explosions, gunfire, and random macho yelling abounds in all directions, punctuated by the usual epic score.

Yeah, the setpieces are coming thick fast indeed. Including docking the speedboat in the back of an aircraft, which takes off to show a wider view of the carnage inflicted on the city.

Then we finish.

And now, Infinity Ward Creative Director Robert Bowling comes on stage along with his Sledgehammer counterpart. Robert is talking about how epic MW3 is and goes on a thanking spree of fans, fellow developers etc..

Oh, right. They just say they cant wait until Nov 8th and bugger off. Thanks for that.

MS’s Don Mattrack is now on stage and thanks everybody as per usual.

He talks about how it is a great time of ‘growth’ and ‘innovation’.

He talks about entertainment and gaming improving; a hint towards a more all-rounded entertainment offering? Yeah. I reckon so.

He mentions blockbuster games, the next level of Kinect experiences and a new way to enjoy television.

Now we start with ‘The Games’. Crystal Dynamics are out on stage now. They are out to show the new Tomb Raider game running on the 360. This should be fairly fucking cool.

Right, we get a section from the start of the game where Lara is being held captive on island by some none too friendly natives. She is suspended upside down and is swinging from side to side to free herself. Which she does, painfully. Now she is stumbling about (all realtime in the third person). Looks very dark and very detailed. She picks up a torch off of the wall and begins navigating her way through the cavern.

Massive emphasis on suspense here – footsteps, vocal paranoia. She gets caught and it appears we’re looking at a QTE-esque mini event. This really does look fucking fantastic. Just the level of detail on her face, the vivid pain etched across it – just incredible.

The dev talks about how her ‘survival instincts’ are used to help her escape and find things of interest. This just looks incredible – obviously a brand new engine.

We now get some traditional TR platforming; jumps, ledge grabs and so on. Now the cave is falling to pieces around her (of course it would) and she has to escape, sliding down a rocky tunnel and then falling out into a wider cavern at which point she bursts into full sprint to escape the devastation. Again, she gets collared by another bad guy, and again she escapes but this time he isn’t so lucky as he gets crushed by falling debris in quite violent fashion. After all this, she finally breaks out into daylight, on top of the cliff-face of an island before we fade to black.

Now THAT is how you reboot an IP.

Right, Peter Moore from EA Sports next.

He is talking about Kinect support in 2012. Tiger Woods, Fifa, Madden and one more to be announced later will all support the motion control device.

He is now talking about non-EA Sports games using Kinect such as The Sims 3.

He now introduces Ray Muzyka from Bioware. Hmmm. He is waxing lyrical about the inception of the Mass Effect series. He is talking about Mass Effect 3 now. He reaffirms the high-stakes nature of the narrative.

He confirms that Mass Effect 3 will support Kinect.

What the Fuc… Oh, voice recognition, and we get a demo too!

The game look very good, regardless of the Kinect stuffs.

It looks like the voice stuff works, by you reading out the conversation choices and then they are played out on screen. Interesting, but not a groundbreaking idea. Now this is neat; you can use the voice recognition stuff to direct your squad with some very specific commands. This game continues to look awesome.

A massive robot has just landed in the demo. Shit just got real. And just as it does, the demo ends.

Not a bad little demo.

Ubisoft are on stage now. Showing what appears to be a Ghost Recon title (the leaked Kinect SKU by the looks of it). The video on screen is a CG video, which while revealing next to nothing of the gameplay, is sweetly done all the same; replete with classical music.

Now we get Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft bigwig. He talks about being a big believer in Kinect since day one. He talks about how he is using Kinect to enhance their core games.

We now get an in-game demo of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier using Kinect.

You can pull weapons apart in the gunsmith mode and rebuild them using gesture commands. It looks pretty cool; if a tad gimmicky and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

Voice commands can be given, allowing the gun’s make up to change. ‘Optimise for close combat’ is said and then the gun which is best for that situation appears on screen. We also get some ACTUAL SHOOTING as well, with him aiming with his hand and using his alternate hand to fire. Again, interesting but not an essential ‘innovation’ by any stretch.

Apparently all few future Tom Clancy titles with use Kinect in some fashion.

Now we get the Xbox Live chap on stage. He is talking about ‘making the technology invisible’.

Yeah, that sounds good and all, just don’t make the games invisible eh?

Now we’re talking about giving ‘TV a new voice’. This segues onto a demonstration of the swanky new dashboard. A lady on stage navigates through the UI using Kinect voice commands. I do have to say, that the UI looks VERY similar to the Windows Phone 7 UI.

He is talking about new partners and name drops YouTube as coming to Xbox Live. Nice.

Now, we get the search service Bing on the 360. Meh.

Again, everything is Kinect voice command compliant. He refers to all of this as ‘effortless discovery’. Yeah, effortless if the microphone can always understand you correctly.

Which it can’t.

Now he talks about Xbox Live TV. He goes on to talk about partnering with big TV companies. Live news, sports so and so forth is coming to the 360. All of this launches this fall. A nice, incremental advance and all, but very little details on those partners or indeed the localisation timings of any of it.

Still, a feather in the cap, is a feather in the cap.

Now, we get a montage of the Xbox 360 as an all-round entertainment device.

Time for a drink.

Now Dana White is on stage! What a legend.

He talks about there being better no time to be a UFC fan. He mentions that we will be seeing the innovations that they have been working on. It appears to show live events with an augmented UI, which shows you fighter profiles, histories and encourages you to vote on who you think will win and who called it the same as you.

Nice if you’re an MMA fan. Which I am. So fuck the haters. Was hoping for something a little more gaming related, then interactive TV-esque.

Right, we’re back to games.

Thank fuck for that.

Apparently everything we are shown now is ONLY available on the 360.

We are starting with Gears Of War 3.

Nice in-game montage video with classic rock music. Cliffy B is now on stage and brings out rapper legend ICE T. We get a brief story primer and then we’re into the game.

I tell you what, say whatever you like about that UE3 engine, it still looks the shit.

Our heroes are holed up in a collapsing building (it seems Mr. B and Mr. T are playing in co-op on stage) and it’s business as usual; gruff voice acting, cover based combat and really nasty looking monsters.

They go into a garage and are riding these mechs called ‘Silverbacks’ which look pretty cool indeed, although it appears that they are only NPC fodder. Bah.

We now get a HUGE sea-creature, boss-thing clamber up on top to attack the Mensa brigade, and yet again, the engine refuses to show it’s age. In a cool little, cut scene moment, Cole drops a whole crate of tickers on the boss which predictably causes a huge fucking explosion and the heroes jump off into the sea.

Ice-T talks about reforming his rock band bodycount to do a song in honour of the revamped Horde mode after the show.

Yeah, ok.

Anyway, Crytek logo on screen. Project: Kingdoms by the looks of it. Talks about Ancient Rome and the struggle to survive. The moody narrator talks about order and justice and the need to survive. We get dramatic shots (all CG BTW) ofRome burning and everything generally going to shit.

Ah, now some gameplay and the game is… a first person brawaler?

From Crytek?? It looks impressive and all but still… What the fuck.

Anyways, it’s no longer called Project Kingdoms, it’s called Ryze.

We move onto something Halo related.

Halo HD! The original Halo remade it seems using the Halo: Reach engine. It looks pretty sweet actually, especially the news that all the MP maps have been remade and the entirety of the single-player campaign being completely redone from the ground up also.

C’mon everyone predicted it, but it looks awesome in the flesh so to speak all the same.

Now we get Dan Greenwalt representing Forza Motorsport 4 on stage. He is talking about how Forza 4 will showcase the 360, Xbox Live and Kinect. He appears to be driving the idea of a fully-realised online racing community.

And now we get a demo.

And it’s in fucking CG.

Some gameplay would be nice.

But we basically get the features of the game dropped in sporadically through the trailer, including 80+ manufacturers, Kinect head tracking and monthly updates. The game is due out in October. Nice, but would like to have seen some prolonged gameplay.

Now it’s Peter Molyneux and guess what he is talking ABOUT BEING A FUCKING HERO AGAIN. *ahem* Anyway, he is talking about a new extension to the Fable franchise – ‘Fable: The Journey’. We get a trailer. Again CG. Showing a fantasy landscape and the narrator intoning – ‘When heroes are no longer born, they must be made’.

‘Albion’s end is coming’ apparently and all that matters is the ‘Journey’.

Right, some actual gameplay. The guy is on stage riding a chariot and is using Kinect gestures to ride accordingly. After that finishes he dismounts and starts blasting some goblins. Gameplay appears to be on-rails and you move your hands in various sweeping motions to create the spell that you wish to cast. Cool… I guess, but it makes me think that nobody will be able to get an actual good-to-honest free-roaming sandbox experience running on Kinect.

Now we get Microsoft’s Phil Spencer back on stage.

He talks about an Indie game coming out of nowhere and becoming a worldwide hit.

He namedrops Minecraft.

Holy shit.

He just announced Minecraft exclusively for 360 and Kinect this Winter.

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

And that’s it, nothing else. No media. Grrr.

Right anyway. He talks about a collaboration with Disney; namely ‘Kinect Disneyland Adventures’. It appears to be faithful recreation of the entire park, navigatable with Kinect and of course, you get to on the attractions and interact with it accordingly.

Looks great for kids, but likely holds no allure for us cynical, miserable and moody adults.

They have two kids on stage showing a Peter Pan segment where they are flying through the skies collecting coins and soaring through valley’s. Looks alright, but again, i’m not the target audience.

Well, that and i’m generally a miserable cunt. But, I digress.

We now get an Alice in Wonderland style racing section which is manipulated with all of the gestures you would expect. I could really do without the kids going ‘This is so COOL!’ and ‘FISTBUMP!’ (I shit you not). Anyway, it’s due out this Chrimbo for all of you parents who are too tight to take your sprogs to EuroDisney.

Now we get Star Wars and the crowd gets wood.

Yep, Star Wars Kinect.

We get a montage of all sorts of things; light sabre combat, pod racing and space flight. Again, I would like to see some in-game footage to see how much articulation freedom you have in regards to movement or if it will be an entirely on-rails affair.

Ah, here we go.

We have a Jedi leaping off a ship and the voice command ‘Lightsabre on’ turns on his glowy stick of righteous death. Needless to say a couple of droids die right away and it all appears to be on-rails as expected. Cool moment though; using force grip Kinect gestures to move a destroyed ship out of the way.

We get more combat with droids and it all just looks… odd. There is no UI to speak of and if you are surrounded by multiple hostiles, you seem to automatically face the ones closest to you, while jumping up in the air, makes the character leap over the enemy allowing you to strike from behind. Still don’t know enough about this.

Star Wars Kinect is done and we get Tim Schafer from Brutal Legend developer Double Fine to show Kinect title Once Upon A Monster. We get lots of waving from the boy and dude on stage and it appears to be a game where you mimic the movements of the monster on the screen. Again great for kids and MS are obviously keen to diversify their demographics this year.

Now we get an activity within the game where they have to use gestures to catch various creatures such as flies, bats and so on. They have nailed the look for sure and if Schafer is involved in this, i’m sure it’ll be solid nonetheless.

Schafer is done.

Now we get Kudo on stage to show off Kinect.

He talks about it being two-years ago this week that they announced Kinect.

We get Kinect Fun Labs. Which appears to be a sort of Xbox Live Indie/Insider version of Xbox Live for Kinect. If you see what I mean. Or not.

Anyway. He talks about controlling your avatar in the past and now mentions ‘becoming your avatar’. The Kinect camera scans the lady on the stage and basically creates an avatar out of it. The visual style remains the same, but it appears to be nothing more than a shortcut to get the avatar looking similar to you.

Now we get Kinect Finger Tracking. Hmmm, this could be interesting.

The guy on stage is tracing on screen using his fingers. Good in principal, but i’m not sure just how accurate it is.

Again we get the reinforced message that Kinect Fun Labs is a creative community venture for Kinect.

Next ‘Kinect Innovation’ is object capture. Yeah, that’s right – we were promised that TWO YEARS AGO.

Anyways, the lady on stage is scanning in her plushy toy and lo and behold it actually appears on screen and is fully Kinect gesture controlled. That was fairly impressive.

Hopefully, these features will be used outside of Kinect Fun Labs by actual developers.

Kinect Fun Labs is live TODAY. Nice job.

Kinect Sports Season 2 is on stage and we get a montage showing baseball, skiing, golf, darts, tennis and American Football. This’ll likely do well.

We get a golf game going on and it looks pretty good – amply using full body movements to line up a putt and stroke.

Now we get American Football. I have no earthly clue what the fundamentals are of this sport other than lots of grunting. Interestingly the grunting is actually a vocal clue to being the game and the meat of it appears to be running (faster than the other guy chasing you) and throwing/passing the ball to the end. Looks ok for what it is – no doubt our American buddies will go fucking spare over this.

Next we get Dance Central 2.0. Apparently all old DC1 songs can be ported across to DC2, giving it a huge library of music. The big innovation here is simultaneous dancing and it does pretty much as advertised. The game itself, fundamentally at least, appears to be relatively unchanged from last year. This Is A Good Thing.

Dance Central 2 is done.

Donny M is back on stage.

He talks about the 360 changing living room entertainment forever. I just want more games. I know that we’re talking about capturing larger audiences, but I don’t give a toss; give me more games.

He confirms that CoD content will be available first on 360.

On the close of the MS keynote, we get a trailer. The start of a ‘new trilogy’.

We see a fireball going through space hitting various blocks and then a heart starts beating leading us to the Master Chief! He has just woken up as his ship us falling apart and he is pissed it seems. The camera pans back and we get an outline of an alien ship (a new species by the looks of it) – no gameplay though.

A 2012 release is planned.

And MS is done!

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Written by bitsnark

June 6, 2011 at 6:59 pm

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