View Full Version : E3 2011: Xbox Conference: Highs and Lows.

June 6th, 2011, 23:27
t's over. It's done. The green bulbs have been taken out of the light sockets, and replaced with the usual yellow. What follows are a collection of thoughts, some angry and some elated, on the relative successes and failures of the Microsoft 2011 E3 press conference.

For the full run-down on the announcements click right through on this here link, otherwise... read on.


So much... Kinect...

It cannot be denied that by the end of the MS conference we were flinching at each and every mention of Kinect. Yes, some hardcore games look to be using the technology well and kids will enjoy much of it. As the green lights went up at the end of the show, however, the CVG office had already built gruesome effigies of the clean-cut actors hired to wave their hands around, and look like tools, on-stage. Someone had already set the one of the kids playing the Disneyland game ("We'll get those other coins next time!") on fire.


Tomb Raider

For a start it's great to giggle at the phrase 'Our new game - Tomb Raider', but beyond that the game looks bold, striking and darkly beautiful. We're not usually the types who like to see women knocked around, obviously, but the brutal bone-crunching treatment given to Lara is a stark departure for the series.

What's more the dynamics of spreading fire to solve puzzles, and the flame effects as her torch flickers against low ceilings, is utterly fantastic. There was a real feeling of the film The Descent throughout the game's showing, especially in the final ascent to the surface and, despite this section's linearity, it left us gasping for more. And Lara? Well she gasped, shrieked, moaned, groaned and made all manner of unladylike noises. We'd pay good money to attend one of her recording sessions.


No alarms and no surprises

Much as it's wonderful to have a sly giggle at Microsoft accidentally pressing the big red button that released news of Halo 4 et al. to the world several hours early, it sure as hell siphoned the adrenalin from our happy-glands. The Halo 4 reveal itself should have been epic - instead it showed that Master Chief is still alive, that Cortana needed help and... well... here we go again...


Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

How could we resist that trailer when placed alongside the brilliant, brilliant accent of Ubisoft head honcho Yves Guillemot? That man's so French he probably has the word 'Bof' tattooed on his thigh. The paused-battle fly-by camera movie was epic, while the Kinect integration in the gun creation suite (while simple) was stark, bold and beautiful. It had a real 'Guns. Lots of guns.' Matrix feel - and the weapons themselves looked stunningly realised.


Needless Kinect integration

Sure, it's a clever feature - but do you think, in a million years, that you'd ever read Shepherd's response options out loud while playing Mass Effect 3? A button tap is not only quicker and easier, but it won't make your cat and/or real-life love interest stare at you as if you're mental either.

Likewise, the vocal orientation around the new TV options is a great trick (and presumably fantastic for disabled 360 owners) but just because it's another step closer to Back to the Future Part Two doesn't mean the majority of gamers will use it. At the same time, though, it'll be a laugh to shout "Xbox! Bing! Goatse!" when you're visiting friends and then run out of the room.


Minecraft on 360 with Kinect integration

Easily the biggest surprise of the Conference. The little indie game that could, and then did, is headed to the living room. It's a game that could work really well with Kinect and means that creator Notch is about to get even more stupidly rich. The big hat-wearing genius that he is.


On-rails hand-waving frivolity

Yes, the young (and perhaps the weak of mind) will enjoy them - but from a hardcore perspective it was hard to imagine us stomping around our living rooms playing either Fable Journey or Kinect Star Wars. It's like the FMV on-rails PC games of the late nineties have come back with a vengeance.

All this said, we will be big enough to admit that it's nice to see Molyneux return to the physical spell-casting concept he first explored with mouse-waving in Black & White. We'd also be awful fibbers if we said that Ryse, formerly Codename: Kingdoms, didn't make us want to throw knives in Roman faces.


Aquatic derring-do with Gears 3 and Modern Warfare 3

Neither stole the show, but together the gigantic yellow mouth of the infected sea beast biting chunks out of Marcus Fenix's boat and the Frost/Sandman boat chase while a nuclear stockpile fired off from a submarine floating next to Manhattan island were suitably epic. It can't go unmentioned, either, that the moment Creative Strategist Robert Bowling's 360 pad ran out of batteries was priceless...


American Child Actors

Children are the future, of course, and they can have their own games. That's fine. The Disneyland game probably doesn't make those under ten want to retch, perhaps not even stab out their own eyes with the box it came in. What children, real children, would certainly not do is spout inane marketing-thought platitudes as they play. "We were so close!" "Get those coins!" "Fistbump!" "Get that big one!" God, give us strength. What's more - it's not just the kids. The guys playing American Football on Kinect Sports Season Two caused us to die inside a little. Usually the phrase "Boo 22! Hit me! Hit me!" is reserved for entirely different party games.


Kinect Funlabs

Okay, we'll drop the cynicism a notch. Funlabs Avatar creation, scanning facilities and finger tracking looked engaging - and surprisingly are free to use as of now. Originally we wrote 'Ginger tracking' in our notes though, and we can't help but feel that this could be the next service to society that Kinect provides.


Some words should never be used in conjunction ever again

They are as follows: "Visceral combat experience", "Valuable life lessons through the power of Kinect" and "Fistbump!"