Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Microsoft's Xbox Blows Minds at E3
I am lucky enough to have access to live coverage of E3 during the day. So when day one of the three day conference kicked off with a massive presentation from Xbox, please believe I was all up in that. I was excited. I was disappointed. I was confused. I let out a couple fan girl screams. Here are a few items that caught my attention.
The big word for this year was Kinect. Almost every game or application of the Xbox from here on out will utilize or at least have the capability to utilize the Kinect. They tried to make it more appealing by adding more hardcore games. The latest edition of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon will now be integrated to the point that you can stand in front of the TV and use your body as the gun. Different gestures will cause you to look around, shoot, reload, and everything else. Be aware, the guy demonstrating the game looked like a dorkus extreme. Hunched in front of the Kinect with your arms out does not look attractive or comfortable.
A lot of people don't have a Kinect. I think a fair number of those people don't even want one. In an attempt to appeal to that group's wallets, Microsoft has made the Kinect usable is some new ways. Speaking commands to the Xbox will now help you control more, if not all, of the dashboard. As demonstrated on stage, speaking a name like "X-Men" will generate a list of all X-Men related content. The latest movies, games, and the old animated series available through Netflix will fill your screen to make sure you get your Marvel fix.
The coolest use of Kinect that I found was when they demonstrated playing Mass Effect 3. I am unapologetic when it comes to my excitement about Bioware's massive trilogy. People will be able to use the mic on the Kinect to make the speech selections for Commander Shepard. I think this is going to hugely enhance the RPG experience. While your voice isn't carried into the game itself, I'm sure that it will help the overall feeling of really having conversations with characters. It looks like it will engage the player more than ever.
One feature that stood out was the addition of a Live TV capability. There were very little details given about this interesting add-on. The presenter expressed that they were in talks with cable companies, striking up deals that would include local channels. The large screen onstage displayed numerous shows and what looked to be DVR capability. If this were to really happen, I would be thrilled. But there was a gaping lack of details. At no point was there an explanation of adapters, new consoles, or some other form of hardware. It is hard to imagine how the newer consoles, (slims or elites), would be able to achieve the simultaneous in and output, especially give the console's tendency to overheat.
Games exclusive to the Microsoft brand were also showcased. Halo 4 was announced to the chagrin of many gamers. Most of my Halo playing friends are purists and see this as an attempt to wring every last penny out of the franchise. Its tough to argue that theory. But look forward to Halo 4, 5, and 6 where we can only assume that Master Chief will begin eating dinner at 4pm and using his AARP card for senior discounts at the movie theater.
E3 is still going on today and tomorrow. There will be big presentations coming from Nintendo, Sony Playstation, and various publishers. Hold tight, we will bring you a summary of all the madness, good and bad.