Our Reporter in the field Brendan Cunningham gives his take on Microsoft’s E3 coverage
Overall I felt the microsoft e3 conference was a good effort show, entertaining without blowing anybody away, which is definitely not a bad thing.
Not every year can be like the 2005 hyped launch of the xbox 360 but this year i believe actually benefitting from no major tech upheavals.This allowed the show to once again focus on the games that Hardcore gamers have been clambering for and incorporate features to excite the casual gamer.
Last year of course disappointed with a heavy emphasis on the Kinect hardware with a sprinkling of game releases mainly Halo 4. So it is good to see the balance readdressed towards Microsoft’s core audience.
This year kicked off with an extended look at the opening mission for Halo 4, (See below) with a brillantly shot live action piece showing the crew of the infinity suffering from a catasphoric event and crash.
This led to some impressive gameplay scenes with the intro of a new enemy and the progress of the Cortana breakdown story. Tomb Raider looked as well as ever with Lara (see trailer here) and AC3’s Connor (see below) both sporting badass archery skills. Call of Duty: Black Ops II ended the show, which featured a terrorist attack on the leaders of the G20 and an exhibition of some demo play that major magazines have already reviewed. A new version of Just Dance, was announced, which will come with a new single from Usher and although he states anyone can perform these moves there is a certain voice screaming in my head….only if I’m completely pissed and then expect every coffee table to be kicked the shit out of by the end of it.
While personally I am not a big fan of the entertainment focus onto games consoles, this year I felt some of the features teased would add value to even the most hardcore of gamer. SmartGlass in particular looks an extremely interesting package to develop full connectivity between your internet TV,smartphone and tablets. While the next quote does seem to undersell the impressiveness of this feature, it is just a smidgen of the options available to all users of the Xbox360. “I can now take my phone and use it as the world’s fastest remote control,” said Microsoft’s Marc Whitten. Before any questions arise regarding the compatibility of features to UK users I am not sure, but US users will def be impressed with a dedictaed section to the new partnership with Nike for Nike + training and fitness community programs.
Following from the heavy connectivity theme of SmartGlass, special guest speakers Trey Parker and Matt Stone introduced new south park game South Park: The Stick of Truth, and delivered the best line of the show with “How many times have you watched an episode of South Park and said I’d like to be able to watch this on my television, while hooked into my mobile device, which is being controlled by my tablet, hooked into my oven, all while sitting in the refrigerator,” said Parker. “Well, we’re not going to do that.”
Returning to games, Kinect features were included into EA Sports features with me personally looking forward to the Kinect voice “Ref Feedback” responses of Fifa 13 that will assess your reactions to decisions and alter the commentary accordingly. This including a bleeped out response to an offside decision being met with Martin Tyler acknowledging our disgust with the close offside decision. Yes swearing at the TV is now making my games better!! Technology huh?? Splinter cell Black list returns with more brutal melees, interrogations and execution shots and the opposite end of the spectrum with a Angry birds inspired Kinect game called Wreckateer which could be a fun party game but imagined it would be boring quickly too.
Gears fans may or may not be impressed by the teaser trailer for the next stage in the GOW franchise with Baird taking centre stage this time round but as you can imagine it is very early days too.
Overall I was happy with the show. Most of us are blessed with attention spans that do not require HUGE, earth shattering announcements every E3 and, also are proud to be Xbox owners without constantly having to need new ammo to fight off the Sony fanboys of this world. Xbox has just as many crying fanboys too so let them argue, but as a gamer first, I was happy with this years unspectacular yet enjoyable show. It has accomplished its goal by making me excited for more new games than I was before the show as I saw a pretty bleak release schedule on the horizon but now I am back to having say half a dozen “Can’t wait to add to my collection” games now.