Monday, June 6, 2011

E3 2011 Impressions: Microsoft

Microsoft's E3 2011 conference was full of high definition shooters, action, sports titles, and Kinect games for kids. In other words, it had everything I expected it to have: not much for the gamer in me. But hey, let's take a look at what they gave us shall we?

*Note, all images were screen-grabbed from's live recording*

Modern Warfare 3:

I've only played some of the multiplayer for Modern Warfare 2, and while Black Ops did remarkably well and looked very interesting, I have never played it. Modern Warfare 3 looks to be the biggest Modern Warfare title yet. The demo shown first at Microsoft's E3 2011 conference shows us combat on the inside and outside of a huge submarine, action packed to the limit. I will say the action was almost stunning in it's realism, and Microsoft did well in showing it off first.

Tomb Raider:

I need to come right out and say it, Tomb Raider was the best demo at Microsoft's E3 presentation. Hands down. Nothing else stands out like this title. We got the opening sequence just a day or two ago, and then today the on-stage demo. Lara Croft is reborn in an origin story, intensely beautiful and full of excitement. I never gave a crap about any of the other Tomb Raider games, but this one looks to be on a whole other level. She was ship-wrecked, hung upside down in a cave, and then escaped a crumbling fortress of caves. All in one demo. It's out Holiday 2012.

Mass Effect 3:

Mass Effect is a series I just started thinking about playing a couple months ago. I don't have the games, but from everything I've heard they're great. So when I look at Mass Effect 3 I don't know what to look for in improvements, but Microsoft has decided to add their personal Kinect touch to the picture. So when the main character, I think his name is Shepard, talks to other characters you have the option to use Kinect. You speak to the game, confirming your decision on what he says. Then in battle I believe you can shout what you want your support characters to do. That's a neat idea. Of course, if you don't have Kinect, or an Xbox 360, Mass Effect 3 will be coming to the Playstation 3 and PC as well.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier:

Alrighty guys, another shooter! This time it's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier where the soldier's are futuristic and stuff. They turn invisible like in other modern shooters I've seen and shoot guns and blow stuff up. There was no combat gameplay demo shown, at least not on Microsoft's stage, but the cinematic to introduce the game was cool. Just as the mission starts everything freezes or goes into slow motion. Then we get a first person camera view of all the action in motion.

But we can't forget about Kinect right? Of course not! This is Xbox we're talking about here. So you can use Kinect to literally take apart your guns and build new ones. You can create both short and long range weapons, and then motion your body to test out your weapon at a target range. This looked alright, if I want to learn more about guns and stuff. As long as it makes big 'splosions.


Sometime in the fall there will be an update for Xbox Live. One of the new features will be Youtube! No clue if this is free for all users or what, but if I can search videos and watch them easily then it'll be better than Play On.


I've heard about Bing. I've never used Bing. But now, with that Xbox Live update, we now have Bing. Microsoft will be integrating Bing into Xbox Live to create a better search functionality. So if you have a Kinect, you would say something like "Xbox, search Pirates of the Caribbean" and voila. Every game, trailer, movie, etc. will be found by Bing and presented to you all in one place to look through. It will work with live TV as well. Oh yeah, guess I should mention that huh?

Live TV Coming to Xbox:

"TV is more amazing when you are the controller" - That's what they said, so maybe I'll believe them when I see it. But yeah, sometime in the future Xbox Live will be getting a TV service that streams to your home. Will this be the push that gets people to ditch cable subscriptions and go for streaming TV? We'll have to wait and see.


I have no clue what this is, but UFC fans get excited. I guess when you watch people fight one another you can guess with your Xbox who will win. I'm sure there's more details out there somewhere about this.

So then Microsoft made a statement that the following games will be Xbox 360 exclusive. Let's see what they've gotten into.

Gears of War 3:

The best thing about this demo was Ice-T coming out on stage with a Gears shirt on to help out with killing aliens. The demo showcases another large-budget, shooter action title. You kill things, again. At this point I've seen enough shooters. They all look cool, but come on.


Now we're in Ancient Rome! And there's a huge bloodfest going on. Introduced at last year's E3 as Codename: Kingdoms, Crytek offers a Kinect game that allows you to be the controller. Oh hey, that was Microsoft's motto for today! Anywho, we see a trailer setting the premise that we are in Rome in a turbulent time. I think we're supposed to feel bad for the dog who's our silent narrator, maybe because Timmy's hiding in a well this time. Anywho, suddenly we are fighting a large battle. The screen flashes between some guy in his living room to the bloody screen. So I guess this is our first "real" adult Kinect game then? Sure looks pretty.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary:

Halo fans, get excited. Once the theme music started up we all knew it was Halo. I guess it's the 10th anniversary so Microsoft is remaking and remastering the game in HD graphics. It's also getting new Xbox Live play, so get excited Halo fans!

Forza 4:

Turn-Ten studios, who apparently specialize in automotive entertainment, came out with a new trailer for their next big racing game. Pretty graphics, music from Kanye West, and Kinect integration with head-tracking and voice recognition make this trailer slick.

Fable - The Journey:

A trailer that puts us in control... Well folks, this is the first Fable game in the series that seems to be fully-Kinect enabled. It all looks terribly fake, though. This is because it looks to be completely on-rails, so all you do is shake your hands and the main character does things. The demo starts with you riding a horse carriage, and when you move your hands up and down your character hits the horses to make them go faster. It looks like there's lag, so maybe they'll fix it by the time Fable - The Journey comes out. Even the battle sequences were on-rails. I did like the notion of creating blasts of magic energy, but the game play's itself.


That's right, PC indie hit Minecraft will be coming to the Xbox 360 exclusively with Kinect integration.

Kinect Disneyland Adventures:

Microsoft and Disney team up to bring us a game that puts us in Disneyland! Okay, so I guess the game's not really meant for us, it's meant for kids. They have faithfully created the park for everyone to explore.

The demo is shown with children playing the game, but it's hardly believable. Their acting is terrible. Seriously. So they try out one game called Peter Pan's Adventure where they fly through obstacles to collect Peter Pan coins. With their hands out, leaning back and forth, told to put huge smiles on their faces. Yay acting! Damn kids...

Alice and Wonderland is up next with more actors! I feel like the kids were mentally screaming "This is so cool! We're on TV! This is so fake!" Okay, but this one looks like fun at least. Their avatars are inside these plastic balls and you race down a massive course set to the theme of Alice in Wonderland. Rolling around like that kinda looks like Mario Galaxy... But hey, looks like fun for kids to play and maybe I'd play it...

Kinect Star Wars:

The video that came out within the last few days shows the game in action, and it didn't look too thrilling. This new E3 2011 trailer is better, but is still lacking something. Again you are the controller in this game and you get to wield light sabers. Shouldn't that be cool?! It would be, if only this game wasn't another on-rails action title like the new Fable game. At least it looks like there's a little bit more of freedom in movement, for if you lean forward your character dashes forward to hit the enemy hard. We'll have to wait and see how this turns out.

Sesame Street - Once Upon a Monster:

Tim Schafer comes out from Double Fine to introduce that Sesame Street game we heard about a while ago. This is obviously a game for kids, and what's better is the kid in the demo doesn't look or sound nearly as scripted as the kids from Disneyland. They demo two mini-games like mimicking the monster and reflecting things back to the monster. This is a game for younger children and their family. Hey, if I had kids, I think I'd want to play this with them as well.

Kudo Tsunoda:

I don't know who this guy thinks he is, but he needs to take off his sunglasses when he's inside. Anywho, he's Kinect's creative director and he announced Kinect Fun Labs, which is a series of development tools.

The first is an avatar creator that uses the Kinect's camera to digitally generate you into an Xbox! It captures your face, hair, and clothing to create your own personal you. This looks like the Nintendo 3DS' Mii creation system, but Microsoft's result is much better and more accurate.

Next up is finger tracking, where the Kinect tracks your finger. The guy who demos this shows us that he can take pictures of himself, set a foreground and background image, and then draw a sparkly line in-between them. And that's about it for now.

The final new feature from Fun Labs is object capturing. We finally get to see the technology that was previewed to us from Project Milo so long ago. The Kinect scans whatever object you have in your hand and brings it to life on the Xbox 360. In this example, a woman takes a funny-looking stuffed animal and shows us the power of this new feature. She even gets it to move around and stuff. Let's hope this wasn't all pre-rendered. Nevertheless, cool stuff!

Kinect Sports Season 2:

Skiing, golf, darts, tennis, and football round out the second title in the Kinect Sports series. Just the sports we've been asking for! A woman comes out to demo golf, and it looks entirely lame. I'm sorry, but it looks to be on-rails. You don't really have much choice in where the ball goes and it looks fake. And then there's the football demo.

What the hell! More acting I say! These guys are WAY too into the game. *sigh*

Dance Central 2:

The project director for Dance Central 2 comes out on stage and announces new voice control, a campaign mode, and a break it down mode, all for Kinect. Over 100 songs will be available at launch but it's not clear whether or not this includes the first Dance Central's songs as well, because you can load them into Dance Central 2. The demo looks fun, and the people were definitely getting a workout!

Halo 4:

The E3 2011 Microsoft conference wraps up with another special treat for Halo fans. Although the game was outed just this morning and yesterday, Halo 4 is now official. Not only that, but it looks like this is the beginning for a brand new trilogy. Halo 4 will be out Holiday 2012.

Final Impression:

Microsoft provided content for its widest audience of players, and I am not one of them. Almost every title featured was a shooter or Kinect game, and I’m not a fan of either. I’ll still hold on to my 360 of course for the RPG’s and fun indie games that come out over time, but I already have this feeling that Microsoft’s E3 2011 event will be the least appealing of the big three.

-Jared C.

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