Sunday, June 12, 2011

Definitely Not Live Blogging Microsoft's E3 2011 Conference

It's almost a week later now, but let me to take you back to the halcyon days of last Monday, where Microsoft blew the lid of their E3 offerings with my own real time impressions. I missed the live conference, but watching the GameSpot recording allowed me to pause the proceedings and make many more non-insightful comments than if I was watching it live. Lucky you.

Although I've never done this for the Microsoft conference, I have watched it as a prospective customer of theirs for the last few years and last year I finally got around to buying a 360. With a year's worth of playing neither dudebro-pleasing first person shooters nor Kinect shovelware, will Microsoft have anything to offer me during this? Is there even a slight glimmer of hope that Rare will ever get to make anything besides Kinect Sports? Well, let's find out:
  • 0:00:21 Kicking off with Modern Warfare 3. Never actually played a Call of Duty game, let alone a Modern Warfare game or even many FPSs for that matter. Let the excitement commence.
  • 0:02:43 Swimming slowly underwater for almost three minutes now. Thrilling. There must be big reveal at the end of this surely.
  • 0:02:55 A second checkpoint? You haven't even done anything yet!
  • 0:05:29 Shooting military guys from a first person view. This is innovative stuff.
  • 0:08:00 The demo guy gets out of the sub and we're taken on a tour through a harbour full of naval vessels laying waste to an American city and being bombed to shit in return. Looks cool, but there's very little in the way of gameplay here.
  • 0:08:40 Look at that sky; UK Resistance must be turning in it's grave
  • 0:10:00 MW3 - "big", "epic" and launching on Nov 8.
  • 0:10:35 Hi, Don!
  • 0:11:12 Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games - The World's Greatest Storytellers™.
  • 0:12:03 Tomb Raider.
  • 0:14:43 Looks nice, but super-linear.
  • 0:15:30 Man, Lara's not having much luck with that torch.
  • 0:17:22 You know, if she stopped talking to herself so much, maybe those zombie guys would have a harder time finding her.
  • 0:18:18 "Visceral combat" - it's the only kind I care about.
  • 0:18:21 I'm cautiously optimistic about Tomb Raider. I'm digging the visual style, but I hope it turns out to be more that a series of linear corridors, broken up by a few quick time events.
More impressions and some final thoughts after the jump

  • 0:18:34 Peter Moore talking EA Sports. I guess there's some Kinect stuff in this year's games then.
  • 0:18:56 Yep.
  • 0:19:39 We've got nothing to show, but just imagine the fidelity a theoretical EA Sports Kinect game might have!
  • 0:19:54 You can also use Kinect for The Sims and Hasbro Game Night. Just take our word for it!
  • 0:20:16 Whoo! Mass Effect 3. (/fanboy)
  • 0:21:24 Voice recognition for Kinect. Meh.
  • 0:22:07 Garrus, Liara and Mordin. Squee!
  • 0:23:01 Ugh, reading out the dialogue you want to say and having Shepard picking up where you leave off is kind of a messy system. Plus, way too much work.
  • 0:23:39 Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt! Kinect - all the embarrassment of LARPing in your own home.
  • 0:24:24 Ooh, was that Wrex talking?
  • 0:25:12 Some Tom Clancy stuff now.
  • 0:27:12 The future is now! It's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. There's Kinect support. Surprise!
  • 0:27:56 Customise weapons with an interface vaguely reminiscent of Minority Report. Oh, E3 crowd, you are easily impressed.
  • 0:28:16 Enthralling.
  • 0:29:39 Fucking hell, the Kinect shooter controls here might just be the dumbest thing ever.
  • 0:30:53 Xbox Live stuff.
  • 0:32:34 Another dashboard update. Meh.
  • 0:33:22 YouTube is coming to the 360. As a gold-exclusive feature, no doubt.
  • 0:33:47 Bing on the 360. Finally. Hah, not a single cheer.
  • 0:34:49 You know, actually being able to cut through the 360's convoluted menu system like this could be really useful.
  • 0:37:02 Game Night? But, it's bright outside.
  • 0:37:19 UFC stuff. Never watched any UFC, probably never will.
  • 0:40:41 Some exclusive games at last.
  • 0:41:16 Gears of War 3. Haven't played any of these either. :D
  • 0:42:39 They ain't safe. Ice-T knows what's up.
  • 0:47:00 The demo's over and Ice-T's reunited Body Count in honour of Hoarde Mode returning (or something).
  • 0:47:15 It's a trailer for that Crytek 360 exclusive, I guess.
  • 0:47:26 It seems to be set in Ancient Rome.
  • 0:47:35 ...and the Rome of alliteration.
  • 0:47:55 Did that dog just say something? Man, I hope he's the protagonist.
  • 0:48:31 Oh snap! It's a Kinect game.
  • 0:48:42 With kicking and head-butting. This won't end well for your TV.
  • 0:49:03 Having only played about 20 minutes of it, even I know that music. I guess this is the Halo remake.
  • 0:50:25 Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary. Dang it, and I just bought the original version on PC last year.
  • 0:50:40 Heh, that's pretty sinister music for the Forza guy.
  • 0:51:31 Future racers will learn the trade from Forza 4. Really, Forza guy?
  • 0:53:17 Peter Molyneux is here to discuss his balls (presumably).
  • 0:54:04 No, it's Fable: The Journey, which I've already heard is a Kinect game.
  • 0:55:15 A guy controlling a horse and carriage with Kinect. It looks just as dumb as you'd imagine.
  • 0:56:32 Now we're in what looks to be an on-rails section, where the dude is firing energy balls at goblin-type things. I'll admit the procedure to build up the orange ball was pretty cool, but this looks to be little more than a glorified light gun game.I'm really not buying that the guy was turning the game's viewpoint with his body.
  • 0:57:15 2012? Seems a bit far off, unless there's much more to the game than what they showed.
  • 0:57:58 Minecraft for Kinect. Yep, haven't played Minecraft either.
  • 0:58:24 Yipee, more Kinect stuff.
  • 0:58:48 Kinect Disneyland Adventures.
  • 0:59:40 Ugh, kill me now, a couple of overenthusiastic stage school kids are doing the demo.
  • 0:59:52 They got the coins! Awesome job, guys!
  • 1:00:06 Damn it! The special coin! They were so close!
  • 1:00:47 Man, all these kids are crazy for coins. Took bad they're all so shit at collecting them.
  • 1:01:05 Is it "so cool"? I'm not entirely convinced.
  • 1:01:19 Fist bump! hell yeah, brah!
  • 1:02:15 Kinect Star Wars. Oh, shut up fanboys. :D
  • 1:02:25 Looks like it's based on the prequel trilogy. Always a plus.
  • 1:03:50 I think I saw some X-Wings back there and a star destroyer. There may be hope for this after all.
  • 1:04:18 "Lightsaber on!". You know, just like they say in the movies. Also, either this footage is recorded or there's some pretty serious lag going on.
  • 1:06:53 Eh. Can't say I'm excited for Kinect Star Wars. Looks like the Double Fine Sesame Street game is up next.
  • 1:08:39 I can see that this'll be cool for parents and kids, but what I wouldn't give for a Conker or Blast Corps right sequel about now.
  • 1:11:29 It's Kudo. Insert avatar shoe joke here.
  • 1:13:45 Kinect + Finger Tracking = ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
  • 1:17:02 I guess object scanning is here at last. Looks kind of cool.
  • 1:17:57 (sigh) Kinect Sports Season 2. I remember when you used to be cool, Rare.
  • 1:18:47 Big Park? What's happened to Rare then?
  • 1:20:45 No way that birdie wasn't pre rehearsed.
  • 1:21:23 It's that guy from Harmonix. Quick, someone queue up Guile's Theme.
  • 1:24:11 That looks like Dance central all right.
  • 1:24:50 Time for one last thing, eh Don?
  • 1:27:14 I'll already know it's Halo 4 anyway, way to bring something new to the table, Microsoft.

Pretty much the same old, same old from Microsoft. More Halo, more Gears, more Forza, a bunch of half-baked Kinect games and a few third party demos.

I guess it's unfair of me to write new instalments of old 360 reliables off as dull announcements. If I'd played the previous games in the series, maybe I'd be going crazy for a double whammy of Master Chief too. As things stand though, nothing they showed of these games looked particularly interesting to me. And to be honest, I find the lack of new, non-Kinect exclusives for the 360 extremely depressing.

The Kinect stuff they showed didn't do much to cure me of my total Kinect apathy. I'm sure the Disney and Sesame Street games might be fun for kids, but the more core-focused titles they showed looked entirely devoid of entertainment value: an on-rails Star Wars game, an on-rails Fable game, and Ryse - a game surely engineered for the sole purpose of having you destroy your own TV. Maybe Dance Central is fun?

Outside a couple of content provider partnerships and another thrilling dashboard update, that leaves the third party stuff. Tomb Raider had a nice visual style, but if it's as linear and as QTE-heavy as the demo suggested, I'm not sure it'd even be worth playing, just watch it on YouTube. :D Modern Warfare 3 looked like another shooter on the 360. Mass Effect 3, we didn't see much of and the voice commands are totally dumb, but it was by far the most exciting they showed during the conference for me, just because I really like Mass Effect.

And I guess that's it. Not a particularly thrilling conference from where I'm standing, but I'm sure cat helmet owners and motion enthusiasts everywhere are ecstatic.

Damn you, Microsoft, where's my Blast Corps 2?

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