Microsoft started their E3 press conference a little late, but when the gears got turning there were a fair amount of shocks and surprises. Here’s our complete rundown of the games, the tech, and the reaction.
The show started with Call Of Duty: Black Ops. The trailer was shown, as well as some new gameplay footage that put players behind the stick of a MI-24 Hind helicopter for a gunnery sequence that looked fun. Will this make people forget that Infinity Ward has moved on? Unknown, but it looks like Treyarch is stepping up their game now that they’re in the hot seat. Excitement level: 6/10.
After an uninspiring announcement about Activision downloadable content exclusives, we move on. Hideo Kojima is onstage to show off his mysterious new project, called Zan-Datsu (Japanese for “cut and take.”) You can call it Metal Gear Solid: Rising. Controlling Raiden from the Metal Gear Solid series, the player had complete control over his sword strokes, slicing up chumps left and right. Looks cool. Excitement level 8/10.
From here on out, everything we’re seeing is Xbox 360 exclusive, and we open with the big guns: Gears Of War 3. Cliffy B is onstage for a co-op demonstration and it looks unsurprisingly awesome – lots of Lancer kills and previews of the new Lambent enemies, who are seriously bad-ass. CliffyB also promised a new multiplayer mode called Beast that’ll be playable at the show. Excitement level: 8/10.
Fable III is up next. I’m notorious for never being on the Peter Molyneux gravy train, but the Fable games are reasonably entertaining, even if they don’t ever have half the crap he promises. No gameplay demo, just a trailer, which means it’s probably massively behind schedule. Excitement level: 4/10.
Halo Reach is looking incredible – the graphics are easily the best the series has ever seen, and we get a lot of time with the new grenade launcher weapon, but the big thing that Bungie has been holding back is spaceship-to-spaceship combat. Yes, you get to pilot a Sabre craft in zero-gravity and duel with other craft. If the space combat is up to the series’ usual level of quality, this is going to be a huge evolutionary leap. Excitement level: 9/10.
A fuller Kinect demo follows – pretty much everything has Kinect integration now. Wave at the Xbox to turn it on, it recognizes your face. Netflix, Zune, all in place and voice / motion controlled – just say “Play” or “Pause.” For some reason Justin Bieber is the music demonstrated – best practical joke of E3? New video chat, new ESPN partnership with 3,500 taped sporting events to watch free. So the Wii is now basically obsolete. Games shown include Kinectimals (cute tiger raising sim), Kinect Sports (Wii Sports-alike from Rare), Kinect Joyride, Kinect Adventures, River Rush and most interestinglyYour Shape Up from Ubisoft, which has some amazing menu interface stuff going on. Finally, Harmonix’s new Dance Central, the first dance game to ever really track body motions. More: Star Wars, Forza. This all actually looks really promising. Excitement level: 9/10.
And, finally, the all new slim Xbox 360. Same price, 250GB hard drive, quieter unit, and everybody in attendance got one for free. Way to Oprah out your keynote, Microsoft.