Earlier today (Monday, June 6th) Microsoft held their annual
Kinect Party E3 press conference. It was packed full of everything from Halo, to Gears, to Fable, and yes, a whole lot of Kinect stuff. As was foretold in a leak just hours before show time, Halo 4 was shown. You can see the full teaser above, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind and start at the beginning: Modern Warfare 3.
Spending no time messing around, Microsoft opened the event with a demo of Modern Warfare 3 being played live on stage. We saw elite soldiers swimming covertly to an enemy vessel and planting explosives on the underside of it. As they busted into the sub, water was flooding in from all directions and sirens blared while the spec ops members quickly disposed of any enemies they came upon. After blowing off a hatch and typing commands into a computer, the troops rushed back to the surface.
Chaos was erupting all around them; the city looming above them was in flames and a fleet of ships were being bombarded by jets running sorties overhead. Just about everything on screen was exploding in typical Call of Duty fashion. Next up, was a dingy sequence that appeared to be on-rails. The soldiers fired at everything around them while frantically trying to get the heck out of dodge. After it wrapped up, an Infinity Ward rep promised that it would be the “biggest, most exciting Call of Duty ever.” IW knows what its fans crave, and it looks like they’ll be delivering it this November.
After a quick promise from Don Mattrick that MS would be showing us a superior way to enjoy TV and games (more on that later) it was on to Tomb Raider. Two members of the Crystal Dynamics team took to the stage and premiered footage of the title running on 360. They described the game as the story of an “ambitious 21 year old girl named Lara Croft [becoming] a hardened a Tomb Raider.” But, you already knew all that. What we were treated to next, appeared to be a video of the demo that Game Informer covered a few months back. Lara was tied up, hanging upside down in an island on a cave, and we were informed that she’d have to use here “survival instincts” to escape. She breaks loose and falls to the hard floor below. A piercing scream of anguish escaped from her lips at this point, and it appeared as if she’d broken some bones.
After some platforming and puzzle-solving action, the young Ms. Croft barely escaped the crumbling cave and emerged outside to the sight of scuttled clipper ships. The visuals look extremely impressive, with Lara pulling off slick maneuvers left and right. Tomb Raider will release in the fall of 2012.
With Croft out of the way, a former Microsoft employee took the stage: Peter Moore. He mostly just rattled off some hyperbole about how totally awesome EA Sports titles are before delving into Kinect. Four games from the brand will support the motion-sensor: Madden, FIFA, Tiger Woods and a title to be announced in the future. Before bowing out, Moore made mention of controlling your Sims in The Sims 3 Kinect through voice controls. This would be an ongoing theme throughout the show.
Getting back to something that you’re probably more interested, Dr. Ray Muzyka walked on-camera to discuss the highly-anticipated Mass Effect 3. ”Everything is on the line in Mass Effect 3′s all out war” said the good doctor. Voice-enabled Kinect support was announced (told you that would be a pattern) and a demo was shown off. Commander Shepard strolled down a hallway chatting it up with a Salarian whom he just met. Rather then using the analogue stick to make choices from the conversation wheel, the player can simply read the brief phrases and Kinect will tell Shepard to speak your chosen line. This could actually be one reason for core gamers to pick up the sensor, but probably won’t get them to open their wallets on its own. The presentation ended when a mech with a min-gun broke up the sowing-circle and Muzyka promised us that the game would be the “best in the Mass Effect series”.
Without giving us a chance to catch our breath, the conference immediately turned to a military game. Soldiers activated what looked like active-camo from Halo and snuck up on their enemies. Crazy bullet-time sequence occured and we saw slugs passing through walls en-route to their unfortunate targets. Large explosions erupted with impressive dust particles flying all over the place. This is Tom Clancy’s: Ghost Recon. And yes, it’s kind of Call of Duty-ish looking. Yves Guillemot then took to the stage to reveal the game’s Kinect functionality. Players will be able to customize any weapon, right on down to its inner parts. He promised up to 20 million weapon varieties as a result of this tech and proceeded to show off how it will work. After tooling around with gestures and commands, the new gun was tested out. It looked pretty interesting, but I doubt many of us will want to shoot targets by mimicking holding an imaginary gun.
Marc Whitten from XBL was up after that, and he told viewers that the Xbox vision is for “all of the entertainment you want with the people you care about [to be] made easy”. The “New Xbox Experience” was put on display and everything was controlled by, you guess it, Kinect. The improved setup actually looked really slick and controlling it appeared to be incredibly intuitive. Whitten promised the coming of ten new partnerships, but only announced one: YouTube.
We also got to see the voice-activated search function. This could legitimately be the most convenient menu system on any device out there. ”You say it, Xbox finds it” comments Marc. They then took this opportunity to fill up their yearly montage quotient with actors enjoying all sorts of Kinect stuff (surprise!) in their living rooms. Do what I say Xbox! I have everything, and you have nothing! Ahem, you may also be interested to know that the amount of downloadable content on the console is set to raise from hundreds of thousands to millions.
In a much-needed reprieve from Kinect stuff, Phil Spencer of MS Studios came on to show us “the biggest exclusive on any console”. While we were unable to independently verify that claim as of press time, it is true that Gears of War 3 looks fantastic. Bleszinski of course took the stage at this point and thanked all the beta players. Thanks to them, he said, this will be the “best, most polished Gears game we’ve made to date”. But developers tend to say that type of stuff about their games. Then he showed it to us in co-op along with rapper/actor Ice-T.
It’s off to the ship upon which the Gears are hiding out, thinking they’re safe — they’re not. An infected sea creature catches up with them and **** goes down. Cole, known best for his Einsteinian level of intelligence, recommends that they “blow his brains out his ass!” Good call Cole. Enormous tentacles slam down on the ship and the crew runs for their lives. They turn to the “Silverback” mechs to combat this menace. Massive amounts of bullets are unloaded into the leviathan’s great, glowing eyes. The menace retreats, only to reappear seconds later. Cole gets desperate and tips over a container full of explosive tickers that only seem to piss the thing off even more. A large explosion fades into white and we’ll just have to wait until this fall for more than that.
Zipping right along — seriously, there was basically zero downtime during the presser — the Crytek logo appears on screen and a narrator tells us that “There are two sides to every coin. There was a Rome of statesmen and soldiers. So too, was there the Rome of suffering, squaler and the fight to survive.” While he prattles on, a dude gets stabbed in the back and a dog explores a fresh battlefield. ”An Empire will fall; a hero will rise. This, is Rome.” Men scream ferocious battle cries and fight hand to hand as some clown on stage exaggerates Kinect motions by about ten times what we assume will be necessary. Yes, the game formerly referred to as Codename: Kingdoms and now known as Ryse, will be another Kinect title — a very, very bloody one.