E3 2010: Our reactions to the Microsoft Press Conference

Charlie Barratt, GamesRadar US

Above: So excited, we forgot to wax lyrical about Halo Reach while the camera was rolling. Just pretend we said it looked good too.

Last night, Microsoft asked me to stand in a crowded line, surrounded by half-naked, gyrating jungle man-beasts, then forced me to drape glowing jellyfish curtains across my shoulders and worship an asteroid-sized Xbox logo as an army of elephants, gorillas and grinning multi-cultural child actors, ripped straight out of a Wii Lifestyle photo or Target commercial, danced around me in a carefully choreographed, Gwen Stefani-scored orgy.

And that was the fun part! Seeing the actual games at Kinect's debut was scarier, as nearly all of them seemed designed for an extremely casual crowd. Yoga? Kart racing? Virtual tiger petting? Was Microsoft abandoning me, the hardcore gamer, just as Nintendo did a few years ago?

Thankfully, no. Not quite, anyway. The first half of this morning's press conference felt like one massive apology for the night before – within a half-hour of the theater lights dimming, we'd already seen gameplay footage of Gears 3, Halo: Reach, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Fable III and Metal Gear Solid: Rising, as well as the tease for a new Crytek-developed, 360 exclusive (currently) called Codename Kingdoms.

Better yet, nearly all of these games look great. The upgrades to Gears 3 were the most impressive, with four co-op players racing through a brighter, foliage-filled environment, past skyscraper-sized Locust stalks, dodging Lambent Berserkers with tentacles for mouths and barely escaping their own ground-shredding Hammer of Dawn blast. But I also loved the sheer scale of Halo: Reach, with the Spartan Noble team transitioning from a vast battle across the surface of Reach to an outer space dogfight – using new controllable ships – in the course of a single level.

I'm not much of a Metal Gear Solid fan, but Rising has me excited, too. The less stealthy, more action-oriented gameplay seems to focus solely on cutting enemies – and everything else around you – into itsy bitsy pieces with Raiden's sword. Imagine Dead Space's dismemberment with extra finesse, style and slicing angles.

Fable III? The story of revolution and brother-versus-brother sounds interesting… I'm still waiting, however, to hear how (or if) Kinect will be incorporated. Call of Duty? The helicopter and tunnel setpieces were fast, epic and intense… though I still notice Treyarch mimicking Infinity Ward's ideas a bit too much. And Codename Kingdoms? I have no idea what the game is yet, so no real opinion yet. I guess Far Cry or Crysis set in Roman gladiator days could be awesome, but that mysteriously vague title implies something even grander.

So the Microsoft conference contained plenty of hardcore gaming meat… but remember when I said "first half"? Guess what the second half was all about.

Yeah… Lots and lots of Kinect. Another child was brought out to pet another tiger. Some woman from Ubisoft did yoga for what felt like an hour, and some Harmonix employee danced for what felt like a second hour.

In the midst of potential despair, however, were comforting glimmers of hope. The kid was able to hide behind a couch, and when the tiger cub couldn't see her anymore, he started pawing at the screen and looking around the room. That's neat. The yoga lady took her jacket off, and her virtual representation on screen took an exact replica of her jacket off as well. That's neat. The experienced clubber gave way to a nerdier, novice dancer, who claimed Harmonix's Dance Central had taught him how to move. No snark necessary – that's neat.

Yes, I'm still scared for the motion-controlled future of gaming, and still dreading what kind of Nintendo nonsense Microsoft will devolve into, but this press conference made clear that the console manufacturer will continue to deliver plenty of real titles for real gamers. And that Kinect has the power – with the right creativity from the right developers – to actually interest us as well.

Oh yeah, and there's a new 360 – available today. I love the new size, the new look and the new specs, but if I didn't know one was already being shipped to GamesRadar's offices, I'd be kinda pissed that I already bought a 360 Elite and that I'm now expected to pay $300 more for "whisper" quietness. Package it with Kinect, though, and you might have yourself an industry-shifting bargain.

Jun 14, 2010 


  • Willis916 - June 17, 2010 12:23 a.m.

    hmm good thing i didnt buy a new elite yesterday (i was going to) now i can just buy the whisper since my xbox dies a week ago :D
  • Elementium - June 15, 2010 5:10 p.m.

    Motion controls just aren't fun. After I get home from work and wind down for the day the last thing I want to do is have to flail my arms around and punch air just to play a game. The Wii is great but look at the limited amount of GOOD titles for it. Microsoft.. hey, your the best. There's no need to branch out into useless fad control setups.
  • cj12297 - June 15, 2010 5:08 p.m.

    hate the name change. kinect reminds of kinex which i played with as a kid. i don't like kinex
  • CAPST3R - June 15, 2010 2:46 p.m.

    Why can't they just make COD 360 exclusive? It would keep the junk off the PS3 shelves.
  • philipshaw - June 15, 2010 11:19 a.m.

    I don't get how you can be postive, this was so boring
  • jmcgrotty - June 15, 2010 9:13 a.m.

    Why the hell is no one complaining that there was no discussion of price? Pessimistically I take that to mean that it's probably a lot higher than people are going to be wanting it, otherwise they would have crowed about the price point.
  • Dondada - June 15, 2010 7:40 a.m.

    "I'm not much of a Metal Gear Solid fan" is where I stopped reading.
  • batman5273 - June 15, 2010 5:35 a.m.

    Compared to last year, this year's media briefing was a bit of a disappointment. Last year had the Beatles, Project Natal, and surprise games there were no surprises. we technically there was but not surprises that gave me a "oh wow" moment. the majority of the games were already announced so we just got gameplay. ESPN for Xbox is cool, but how many nerds really care about sports? I get what Microsoft is doing. Kinect is not just an Eye Toy. Kinect has alot of potential not just for games, but also for quality of life. Think about this, what if you had a disability, or handicapp, or missing limbs? Kinect will let you control the dashboard and even play games. I know disabled veterans that have no hands. they have no fingers to push buttons. So Kinect will be very special to them. And the fact that you just can't waggle a remote like a Wii, I see Kinect actually getting people off the couch. Now I love being on the couch and pressing buttons, but when my 4 and 6 year old saw Skittles in the Kinectimals game, their eyes lit up! My daughter Harley made me rewind the DVR so she could see Skittles again and again. And when the dancing game aired, they were in front of the tv mimicing the moves. And that proves Microsofts point, there is still some untapped market. Think about this, you are a parent and have the choice between a Wii and and Xbox w/ Kinect. The choice to get the Xbox makes more sense. Get the fat kids doing something. Now the Playstation Move is cool, but it still has controllers. My 57 year old mother has a Wii, and she is still confused by the controllers. And once I showed her she can play Wii Sports Bowling from the couch, she has never got up from it since. Microsoft will never abandon the Hard Core Gamer. I think it just opened the door to the casual gamer alittle more.
  • TheVeteran13 - June 15, 2010 5:07 a.m.

    New 360 and gears 3 cool and all... but kinect is really just an entirely new medium for people to embarrass themselves in. Sure the casual will eat it up and say "duh hey look I'm the game" but i just hope microsoft realizes that they will never be able to sell this to everyone and not try to make this some five year initative. So with hopes dashed and strewn upon a parade of murderers and single mothers I turn to sony with no higher hopes
  • AuthorityFigure - June 15, 2010 4:33 a.m.

    What's this about 'abandoning the hardcore gamer'? At least 50% of the material was target at YOU. More like the hard-to-please-gamer...
  • darkmagshin - June 15, 2010 3:56 a.m.

    the new xbox looks like a fucking ps3. lucky MS fans, you're getting a motion control peripheral that saps 25% of the processor power and now you can't even distinguish between the two consoles. although i have to admit, move probably won't be much better, as if i would buy either of them. if this is all that MS has coming, then i won't be having a lot of nerd jealousy over MS fans any time soon. I'm just hoping that the sony conference isn't an apocalyps3... if so, then i'll be all good =D
  • Hexar - June 15, 2010 3:51 a.m.

    Crummy article, the first page is filled with bias. Sorry I'm not interested in reading what the "Official Xbox Magazine" journalist has to say about the "Official Microsoft Press Conference". Charlie's take was alright, but honestly this was a pretty big disappointment. They've had a year to refine this thing from what we last saw and what we get is a less battery intensive more hand waving way of getting through the dashboard and a whole truckload of games that I feel hard pressed to even call games. Posing in front of a camera while trying to smack things on a moving cart isn't entertainment; that's barely a step above a posing in front of a fun house mirror. Honestly how long can you see someone doing this? I was willing to give Microsoft my attention on their new gimmick, but after this showing I can definitely state that I will not be interesting in buying this thing anytime soon.
  • whiteknight1981 - June 15, 2010 3:35 a.m.

    Arggg!!!! Xbox Sux!!!! Sony Nerd Orgasm FTW!!!!! Sony will be best evaa! Blagghhhhhh! *head bursts in complete fanboy rag-on-xbox-demonstration rage*
  • Baron164 - June 15, 2010 3:21 a.m.

    I like the new 360 with the new features and I'm glad my old transfer cable will still work with the new one. But it's certainly not going to get me to buy a new one anytime soon. My Elite is still holding its own and I don't care about Wifi, maybe when the Elite dies I'll upgrade. I'll also be curious to see if they finally solved the RROD *fingers crossed* But I deffinately agree with Charlie. Bundle in Kinect for the same $300 and I'll pick one up.
  • JohnnyMaverik - June 15, 2010 3:12 a.m.

    Honestly, Gears and Halo, that's all they had in the way of exclusive titles (to the 360 platform itself that is, Fable III is exclusive to Microsoft, not to 360) that I might actually be interested in. Having not played gears 2 or halo 3 I'm not anyway. I'm suprised Crytek are going exclusive on a game, but I guess Microsoft probably threw a couple of mil their way as a reward. I hope Nintendo can convince me to buy a Wii some time before next E3 (doubt it) and Sony will have more in the way of actual games... and less motion control stuff, but with Move on the way I doubt it.
  • Fiirestorm21 - June 15, 2010 2:10 a.m.

    Unimpressive conference for the most part. The first half was great, I agree, but even so there was nothing surprising except for Crytek's new game and that was just a teaser. As awesome as they look, Gears 3 and Halo Reach look exactly like I expected them to. However Black Ops looked pretty badass, I have to admit. The second half was just painful to watch. Really, really uncomfortable. So staged, so awkward, so forced, so unnatural. And the games still are just stupid. And even if they aren't stupid then we know that playing the games makes you look stupid. Aside from the voice commands, I found nothing to like about Kinect. As for the new 360, overall I'm digging it, although Microsoft should have released it a year or two ago. And I want one in white. But other than that, it was cool.
  • FlyinMX - June 15, 2010 1:22 a.m.

    Can't say I was impressed very much with this showing. The only games that caught my eye were MGS:Rising and GoW 3. I had no intention of ever buying CoD: Black Ops (or any CoD anymore, for that matter so the temporary exclusivity deal for map packs is a moot point) Regarding Fable 3, I didn't play the first 2 and I don't plan on starting anytime soon. I'm just not excited at all about Halo Reach, although I'll likely get it at some point. Codename Kingdoms is still probably 2+ years off. I thought the ESPN deal sounded awesome until I realized that it is almost guaranteed to be U.S. exclusive. And Kinect? So far, it looks like the worst parts of the Wii, just prettier and slightly more refined. I will say that I find the voice/facial recognitions and ability to open menus by gesture alone to be pretty cool, but the most important part, the games, fails on nearly every level. Outside of Dance Central, which is only getting a benefit of the doubt because it's made by Harmonix, everything else looked like crap and stuff for the under-10/over-40 crowd. I just can't pay lord knows how much (I've heard 150$, I pray it's wrong) to do something that I can do just as easily with a controller. MS will need to wow me with future Kinect titles to pony up the dough for it. P.S. like the look of the new 360, but there's no reason to own two... but I guess it's more for people who don't have one anyway.
  • Samuel71 - June 15, 2010 1:11 a.m.

    The conference was a joke. Nintendo and Sony will certainly top this.
  • awinnerisjew - June 15, 2010 1:01 a.m.

    So 5 years later it's copying the exact same touch-sensitive buttons the PS3 was mocked for. It's copying the built in wifi that both the PS3 and the Wii for God's sake already have. It's smaller, it's shiny and it's black, much like the original PS3 and new Wii. And it's finally quieter than a jet engine and doesn't sound like it's breaking just being turned on? And this is called an innovation or a "new" 360 with a price point at $299? Oh and by the way, if it's a 360 that will play 360 games, that's not backwards compatability, that's compatability. It damn well better play the games that were intended for it. So their entire plan is just to copy the first generation PS3 and claim it as their own idea and invention. Maybe thats why they made it a point to mention "backwards compatability", because everyone expected it to just play blu-ray and download content to a PSP. This is not worth an E3 unvail, or a purchase for that matter. And I say this as someone who owns all three consoles and plays them....with the exception of the Wii.
  • Shinramen - June 15, 2010 12:42 a.m.

    What a disappointment. Another Gears, another Halo, another Madden, another CoD. The same motion control stuff as last year. ESPN was the only thing even worth mentioning here.

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