E3 2011: Editor impressions of the Microsoft press conference

Real games don%26rsquo;t know what the hell to do with Kinect

Theoretically, the technology behind Kinect should lead to all sorts of spectacular innovations in our favorite games. Unfortunately, based on what was shown at Microsoft’s conference, the emphasis is still on “theoretically.”

Mass Effect 3 will add voice recognition, but choosing Shepard’s dialogue options that way leads to a weird disconnect between the player’s voice and the commander’s voice, while shouting commands like “Take cover, Garrus!” and “Use Singularity, Liara!” is a novelty that I believe will wear thin fast.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is even stranger, adding motion control to the menus in which you customize weapons (down to the most miniscule parts) and test out those diverse creations on a virtual gun range. I dig this aspect of the game, but won’t waving your hands through dozens upon dozens of tiny, easily confused pieces make this less fun than its assumed counterpart on PS3? Won’t testing the weapon on the range be less informative when there’s no force feedback or precise aiming?

Minecraft was announced for Kinect, but I can’t possibly imagine trying to build a complicated three-dimensional masterpiece by waving your hands. Kinect Star Wars was shown, but was clearly the lightsaber equivalent of a rail-shooter. And Fable: The Journey immediately reminded me of the Kinect version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was only one of the worst-reviewed games of last year.

The possible exception

Remember Codename: Kingdoms, the mysterious Crytek project announced at E3 2010? That’s now officially Ryse, and from what I can tell, a completely Kinect-reliant experience. Strangely, though, I still find myself intrigued. The trailer was unapologetically mature, with soldiers being murdered in the bloody streets of Rome and the player first slashing an enemy with his sword, then kicking the enemy away “This is Sparta”-style and finally launching a spear into the enemy’s horrified face. Ryse could be just another rail-fighter like Kinect Star Wars, but I have faith Crytek would pull something more original off with the motion control technology. We’ll see.

Xbox Live TV, cable killer?

This could be the most exciting announcement of the show – we won’t know for sure, however, until Microsoft provides a lot more information. High-definition? How many channels? Can we pick and choose programming, or do we sign up for a package deal similar to what’s already offered by cable companies? Will region limit what’s available? Could the interactive features displayed during the UFC section of the presentation – audience voting, personal viewing history, semi-Achievements, etc – be expanded to sitcoms, dramas or reality shows? And, most importantly, how much extra will this cost? I’m dying for answers.

Impressions from Official Xbox Magazine

Francesca Reyes, Editor-in-Chief: It's an interesting grass-is-greener mix in that Microsoft appears to be wooing the Wii crowd while Nintendo's possible hardware announce might be aiming to woo the traditional crowd. But at the same time, I'm glad that Microsoft focused on games over pure services. The tease for Halo 4 and Anniversary were great, but felt a little underplayed – think they should've trumpeted those a bit harder, but it’s great to know they're on the way. Surprised that Halo 4 will be on current gen, but couldn't be happier. The Disney and Sesame Street games felt well-pitched even if most core gamers might not be interested. They're perfect for the audiences they're made for without any cynicism.

What did you think of Microsoft’s E3 2011 press conference? Add your opinion in the comments section below.

Jun 6, 2011