E3 2010 officially kicked off this morning with Microsoft's annual press conference, where it spent around 90 minutes outlining its biggest titles of the next several months. Obviously there was heavy emphasis on Natal (now called Kinect), but there was still plenty more to soak up:
• A redesigned Xbox 360 will go on sale for $299 later this week, with sleeker, smaller (and quieter) design, an integrated 250GB hard drive and built-in 802.11N Wi-Fi.
• While several tech-demo-y new Kinect games were unveiled and/or demonstrated – including Kinectimals, Kinect Sports, Kinect Joy Ride and Kinect Adventures – the real Kinect-specific news is that LucasArts is going to create a Star Wars game especially for the peripheral, which featured impressively realistic lightsaber action and gesture-activated Force powers. It all looked a bit cartoony, but it’s nice to see someone delivering on what everyone wanted the Wii to do.
• Metal Gear Solid: Rising looks incredibly slick, is ultraviolent and appears to revolve around Raiden slicing anything he sees – cars, pillars, soldiers – into ribbons with a laser-focused chopping mechanic lifted straight out of Afro Samurai (but apparently with more finesse, as we were shown Raiden delicately chopping a watermelon with no damage to the table it sat on).
• Gears of War 3, in addition to being bigger and more chaotic than its predecessors, will let you stab enemies and is full of jacked-up Lambent versions of Locust, including a Lambent Berserker that apparently couldn’t be killed even with the Hammer of Dawn. Also there’s a new game type called Beast Mode.
• Call of Duty: Black Ops will feature some visually kickass helicopter-gunner sequences, as well as segments set in Vietcong tunnels that have a distinctly survival-horror vibe. Also, all its DLC will hit the 360 first.
• Crytek (Far Cry, Crysis) has something in the works, involving sweaty, grimy, gladiator-looking men, called Codename Kingdoms.
• Halo: Reach will feature vehicle-based dogfights in outer space. It also looks darker and prettier than earlier Halos, with a demo that featured the team of Spartan protagonists fighting Covenant Elites as they burst out of orbital drop-pods. Also showcased were close-quarter kills that briefly shifted the view into third-person.
• While we knew Kinect was going to be more than a gaming device, the press conference showed off what it’ll be capable of. Want to pause a video you’re watching? Say “Xbox, Pause.” You can also wave your hands around to scrub to a different part. There’ll also be a video chat program, enabling you to talk and watch videos with your friends and family (assuming they all have Kinect-equipped 360s).
• Microsoft and ESPN are partnering for a 360 Avatar-enabled service to stream live and on-demand sporting events with replay abilities and a light interactive aspect for fans to show support. The service will be free to all Xbox Live Gold members.
• A few other Kinect-exclusive projects were shown, such the pictured Dance Central, that despite their "casual" exterior were more interesting than the Wii-like games on display.
Look for more detailed reactions from GamesRadar, OXM and OXM UK editors in just a little bit. We're typing our thoughts together as quickly as possible!