You know you’re in for a bad time when the first five seconds of the conference start with a controller disconnecting. Only 3 minutes of boring underwater prologue later, down comes Modern Warfare 3 down your gullet. It didn’t show a ton of the actual FPS experience, but at least it looked like they tried to make a sound approach to the campaign. Also, the boat sequence reminded me of Wave Race and that’s pretty fun, I guess. Nothing too awe striking as of yet though.
Let's cram in this trailer right here, as if you're not one of the 11 million that already saw it.
Tomb Raider was next up to bat and what a dreadful annoyance the reboot turned out to be. Am I the only one that noticed Lara was talking to herself constantly? You want to train your survival skills, try using your inside voice for a change. Perhaps at the end of the game she learns not to whine loudly and talk to herself to remain hidden. And apart from the Quick Time Event (QTE) show, there was little inspiring gameplay. A few nice puzzles were hinted and some platform aspects and it also looked crisp as never before, but I really hope they fine-tune the whining, because no one wants to play with a climaxing Leo Stenbuck. It’s sad to say, but the fast-paced Guardian of Light already outshines it.
Mass Effect and Ghost Recon then took to the stage to promote Kinect implementation, such as narrating the lines in conversation options instead of pressing 1 button. I never knew immersion had to be so complex. Still, the Ghost Recon weapon customization wasn’t bad, but I’m skeptical how well gameplay could translate on the same peripheral.
But what about Gears of War 3, you ask? What about it? It’s Gears of War and the only thing that was remotely interesting in this broad-chested carnival was that Bodycount is coming back and that isn’t even game related. Oh yes, Horde mode or whatever; splendid. Instead of making the ‘most polished Gears of War’ yet, try and make a new Gears of War at the very least.
I uploaded a trailer of something I'm not enthused. Never say I don't try for you guys.
Continuing the yawn-fest, Forza 4 is still about showing cars, Minecraft is being pushed, even though everyone knows exactly what it is and out of nothing a weird Fable: The Journey demo was presented of driving a cart with Kinect. Oh, and Halo 1 is coming back, since Microsoft saw the dollar bills from Sony’s lazy venture of re-releasing titles. A remodeling of the game will hit shortly. Let’s hope they get the controls right this time and perhaps tweak the campaign so it makes sense. And circle fans can rejoice, because a new Halo is also being made. What a sleazy move to go with the money trail after stating the series was to come to a close, but completely expectable when your exclusives are few and far between. And since Reach at least piqued my interest of a full experience, perhaps this is the one that will finally win me over; just don’t be holding your breath.
Perhaps the only visual eye-catcher came from eye-candy captains Crytek. Remember last year’s Codename Kingdoms that revealed absolutely nothing? Well, it has now been dubbed RYSE and Crytek showed the smallest possible promo one year later. It turns out to be a Kinect sword-swinging game, but with mature graphics set in Ancient Rome. More sword games, you say? Don’t mind if we do; it’s not like Nintendo made a whole console out of that thing or anything.
I even did it twice. Though it's the best chance to figure out what RYSE is about.
The rest of the show can be summarized in one word: Kinect. At least Microsoft is sticking to their peripheral and are now implementing many, many new attributes as well as some old promises. It was funny when the woman on stage scanned an item and mentioned it was ‘finally’ possible to scan a skateboard, for instance. That’s what you get for making an announcement promo you don’t deliver on later.
More features include more channels, media, ways to interact with people and of course a ton of mediocre games. From Star Wars to even Double Fine’s otherwise amazing games now spewing Sesame Street, if any of those things made you happy, you’re an easy customer and I salute you. The most promising to me was Disneyland Adventures, as it recreates the entire park and offers to go on the ‘rides’ in a Kinect kind of way. Not everyone can always hop on down to the happiest place on Earth, so this could be a huge crowd pleaser. But man, that demo; it was just so embarrassing for anyone who watched those kids ‘act’ enthused, like they were in a kiddie-crack commercial. Just like Kinectimals last year, if there’s one thing your presentation doesn’t need, it’s a fake push from a child. Either let them explore it like they should or have one of your interns ridicule himself before an audience of millions.
Kinect also was going to implement UFC and offer a way to interact, predict matches and get that whole sports bar vibe into your living room. Your better halves will love you for it, sirs. But lastly, they also showed a simple but very effective new feature called Finger Tracking. With just a few simple movements, Kinect allowed you to manipulate and move through your space and create effects that were also promised to be implemented in games. I have 0 ideas how a game could take advantage of it, but the instant 3D space manipulation was impressive at least.
There were even more reveals, but those are so dreadfully dull; they don’t even deserve a mention. EA is bringing sports games to consoles? What a big shock that is. In all, Microsoft really has no idea how to drive these conferences. It might not be as horrid as last year, but this presentation lacked any appeal or interesting fact, mostly because everything was tied to a peripheral most game enthusiasts are not in sync with yet. But again, it is great to see Microsoft take the plunge with Kinect and really digging deep to give consumers a ton of content to work with. Unfortunately, it’s not really tied to gaming and that leaves Microsoft without a show stopper or even a game that stands out. Tomb Raider is a multiplatform deal and RYSE is the same thing we’ve seen time and again. It looks like we’ll have to be left with the baked beans that is the new Halo.