See, Elmo and Cookie Monster are cheering!
Last night at 2:30AM, I got infront of my computer, as tired as I was, and started watching the Microsoft Keynote at the E3 Expo. As promised, I will be taking footage from the GAMESPOT live feed and collaborating it into a news/opinion EXTRAVAGANZA! So, without further ado, read on for my thoughts of what Microsoft presented to us this year.
For those that were expecting a big bang at the start of the presentation…. were most probably very disappointed. Without any introduction, we get thrown straight into a gameplay trailer that in my opinion, looked pre-recorded. Without any explanation of what it is, for the first few minutes you are given a preview of a first person game where you are swimming through water and following people (Ooooh! Exciting! I thought as I was finishing off my Figure 17 review). After 4 and a half minutes, they finally emerge from the water and have a small shootout on top of a boat followed by some water chases and the like. Whilst the water chases on the small boat actually were pretty awesome, everything else would have been better say, in the middle of the presentation, however the title was finally revealed to be Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. I have never been a follower of the game series although I know it is big, primarily due to me being a bit of an eager beaver when it comes to shooting games and getting killed due to it.
Don Mattrick then comes out and presents the usual expect spiel about how the last year has been the best year in the consoles history, achievements they have had and the like. He also gave the usual blurb on how technology is helping improving the gaming experience and how storytelling is getting bigger and better.
The next game for their lineup is the new Tomb Raider game. The gameplay trailer primarily consisted of the heroine walking around a dark cave that is filled with the usual things… ritualistic murders, tight spaces, oddly placed fire lights and of course, zombies or skeletons that sound like they want to have their way with her. This actually looks pretty scary, and has that sort of survival aspect shown well, with her having to refuel her torch. The one issue is the voice acting….. anyone who does not have vision of the screen but in earshot of the sound would think you were watching some low-grade porn, with her making gasps and screaming consistently. I am not sure if this game will redefine the genre or be anything more then what is shown, but it does look well designed at the very least.
Next up is EA Sports to discuss their plans for the Kinect. They have announced titles such as Tiger Woods PGA Tour and FIFA which will have some Kinect interoperability. Honestly, sport games are boring so I shall just pass over them.
Finally, they have gotten around to announcing their first major XBox brands (Well, ex-exclusive brand) next game, Mass Effect 3. Whilst I have only played half of the first game, I will say the graphics have definately improved in quality, and the same interaction system is shown and still has a major role in the series, but also has an improved battle system which works quite well from the preview.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is the next game in the presentations lineup. Another series I have not had much experience with, however the key thing they are advertising is the Kinect interaction with the series, which involves producing guns using your hands and voice, and then using the kinect to fight with. I will say this about every game that uses the Kinect. Shooting games and the like that, DO NOT need Kinect integration for the sake of having it. Whilst it might save you time from pressing a few buttons, it is unrealistic to expect the same accuracy or reaction times if you don’t have a controller in your hand doing the moves.
Do you like the current XBox Live Experience interface? Well guess what, it is changing yet again. The voice interaction is useless for Australian’s as for whatever reason, we cannot use it as it is only available in countries such as the US and Japan. They also promote their desire for new partnerships, Bing connectivity and connectivity to Youtube…. of course, these freely available services on the internet will most probably be limited to Gold members. They also promote things like Minecraft Kinect (Err…. wouldnt it be better as Minecraft Controller?).
They also promoted a new UFC game. Honestly, after bowling, the most generic thing for intergration of tools like Kinect, Move etc is boxing… and lookie here, another game that involves flailing your arms around in a slapping pose. Looks creepingly realistic however.
Gears 3, another game I have no interest in, however does look visually well done. As you can see, the number of war-based games they are showing off is now getting annoying.
Ryse, yet another war-based game that exclusively deals in Kinect controls, this time with a very over-exaggerating person doing the moves. Seriously, who does that much movement when playing a Kinect game?
There was also Halo: Anniversary coming out which to be honest, actually looks pretty damn good remake of previous editions (At least, I think it is). As Halo I and II were only available on the XBox, it is good to see they are doing a remake for the XBox360 that is fully remastered.
I have a love/hate relationship with racing games. Whilst I am a big player of kart racing games such as Mario Kart and ModNation Racers, I don’t enjoy actual car racing games such as Forza Motorsports and Grand Turismo. I will be honest though, Forza Motorsports 4 does look visually impressive, but as to the Kinect Integration…. I am hesitant.
Fable: Journey is the next installment in the game series, and is primarily a Kinect game, which seems to be more of a rip-off of Sony’s upcoming game Sorcery which was announced at last years E3. Essentially, you do normal Fableish things, except this time you can use your body to do things like spells. I am a big fan of the Fable series, and will most probably be getting this, however once again, it would be more enjoyable in my opinion, without the Kinect.
Now we are heading into the more childish Kinect games, which actually seem a lot more appealing then the previously mentioned games as they are actually logically viable as “No Controller” games. The first is Kinect: Disneyland Adventures which claims to be a proper replica of the Disneyland Theme Park and allows you to walk around the park and take part in minigames for each of the rides. This actually looks pretty fun, and hell, if they still have that Buzz Lightyear shooting game at the park which paired the rider with an online player, would be fun implementing connectivity between the Kinect Player and the real park Player. However, the kids who were “invited” to “play test” the game were overly enthusiastic and sounded like an almost guaranteed scripted event.
Also in the same series is Kinect: Star Wars, which in comparison to Kinect: Disneyland, looks rather boring. However I personally have only watched one of the movies and fell asleep during it…. so it might be a personal bias on my part.
All last night and this morning, there was a lot of discussion between me and my friends on facebook, and after much checking, the game that was of most interest was….. Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster. Whilst it is a kids game, it is just so adorable and looks like a very interactable and enjoyable childrens game. The choice of Elmo and the Cookie Monster as main characters were perfect, and the games look pretty fun. Also, I have to say…. “GOOGLY EYED COOKIE MONSTER!”
Also shown was Kinect: Fun Labs which involves a bunch of things like creating an avatar from a photo of yourself (Example pictured above), object capture (Bring an item into a game… such as a stuffed Koala for example [My childhood toy was a stuffed Koala named Walter] and pseudo-3D imagery. Good time waster, but if it costs the full price of a normal game, I wouldn’t consider it worthwhile.
Yet another Kinect game…. Kinect Sports ~Season Two~, the second game in the Kinect Sports series, this time implementing the following sports:
I don’t want to sound pessimistic, however none of these games are really worth being in a second compilation in my opinion. The first game was compiled of some great games to test out the Kinect and were suitable, especially the bowling and Athletics, both of which me and my family have played quite a lot. However these are just *Yawn*. The new Kinect Gestures seem useful however.
As with the first game, Dance Central 2 will result in a lot of painfully enjoyable fun, that shall render me unable to move for a week after purchasing it, as the first game did.
and finally…. a Halo 4 preview trailer that everyone was expecting. The crowd and fanboys all around the world let out a big cheer.
— GOOD END…. FOR THEM —
Impressions: I have been saying for a while that Microsoft could only improve on this years E3 after a rather bland performance last year that left it essentially, the bottom of the three game console publishers. This year, they have improved ever so slightly, however they spent more time advertising interoperability between games and the Kinect instead of focusing more on the games that people who have only controllers would enjoy. To me, all good gaming requires a controller to some degree, and some of the implementations of Kinect give me the impression that they were too ambitious and might result in the quality of a game being lost. There was also a lack of new IP’s which was disappointing. At the very least, they did salvage it with a few good games, and some rather interesting childrens games. Also disappointed there was no Eastern games, with the focus remaining on Western styled games.