E3 2010: Microsoft

It's that time of year again. Time for E3, 2010! I plan on live blogging the conferences like I've been doing for a few years now. This early afternoon was Microsoft's Press Conference. Spitting this up quick here, because Ubi and EA are in an hour, and I'd like to rest my eyes a bit. That's supposed to go for like 6 hours or something (probably a break in between). LOTS of stuff about their motion control system. So, here you go! I watched the conference live on Spike TV and wrote my thoughts as it went along:

Listening to a pre-show thing. Keep hearing “premier of another Xbox LIVE Arcade game trailer” way too often.

Big news, of course, is that Natal is now Kinect. …. Should have kept the project name. It’s smaller than the prototypes. Lots of price speculation. Too much on the high end.

Ok, here we go! 12:30 pm CT. Welcome to the 2010 Xbox 360 Global Media Briefing.

Montage time. Explosions. Nice looking war game. Call of Duty Black Ops. November. Mark Lamia from Treyarch to talk about the game. I’ve never played one so I can’t comment on improvements. But the graphics are tight. All that’s on the screen are the crosshairs and a really pale ammo indicator in the bottom corner. Helicopter combat now; big explosions. I’m gonna finish my lunch here…. It looks great, so yeah….

Don Mattrick. He’s talking about the agreement with Activision. Xbox gets map packs and expansions first for Call of Duty, through 2012. Halo, Gears of War, Call of Duty, big games on Xbox. Now he’s talking about Netflix, FB, etc. And announcing Project Natal’s new name, Kinect. Showing, not telling.

Hideo Kojima in the house. Aw, he’s so adorable. Talking about Metal Gear Solid: Rising. Talking about something new and unique for Kinect, I think? Or maybe he just means a new alliance with Xbox. Shigenobu Matsuyama now. Zan-Datsu. “Cut-Take” translated. This younger guy is the game’s producer. And here’s a trailer. Nice and shiny. And here comes Raiden to kick some ass. Cuts the head off this robot and rips out its spinal cord. “Cut at will.” “Cut what you will.” HAHA he’s slicing up watermelon now. Nice accuracy. No date on that.

Phil Spencer, Corporate VP. Experiences that cannot be found anywhere else. Blockbuster games, online multiplayer, storytelling…and characters. Halo Reach, Fable 3, Crackdown 2…. Everything showing today is available only on Xbox 360. And here comes….. Cliff Bleszinski for Gears of War.

4 player story based co-op on display here. I hated Gears of War, just a disclaimer here. Graphics look amazing though. Oooh there’s a girl in this one. Looks like pretty standard Gears stuff. Limbs being torn/blown off, blood everywhere. I don’t know how it will play; they’re only showing one full screen here for Player1. Big nasty boss fight. Characters call out to each other when they’re out of ammo or something, that’s neat. He mentions a new mode called “Beast” but doesn’t describe it here.

Peter Molyneux. Fable 3 (duh). Here to raise up our hopes, so they can be dashed when the game comes out. I love these games, but Pete hypes like crazy; he gets super excited about what he’s making, but half of it never makes it in. In F3 you are a ruler. Good looking trailer here. This looks to be set in the…17 or 18th century. No release date but…I think it comes out in October.

Phil is back. Exclusive title…with a new partener. Activision I guess. What is this? Trailer of some huge gladiator looking guy on a field of battle. Oops, Crytek. Codename Kingdoms. Have not heard of this, and the trailer didn’t really show much.

Phil again…one game changed everything. Must be talking about Halo. Halo Reach. Bungie Creative Director Marcus Lehto. Showing off the new campaign. And of course it looks amazing. I want to say Reach is…a prequel? I don’t remember. Anyway, it looks like a freakin’ Halo game. Not noticing any obvious changes. Girls in this one too! And awesome music. Oooooo…nice melee move. B oy that is massive. Spartan just hopped on a rocket/space shuttle. …… It’s a battle in space. Wowzers. Got some goose bumps. September.

Marc Whitten, VP of LIVE. Ug his mic sucks. He’s just rambling about LIVE stats. Kinect. Oh, he’s going to talk about using Kinect with the dashboard. Controller free play. Demonstration. Ron, one of the engineers. He’s showing how easy it is to sign into LIVE with a wave of the hand (it has facial recognition). He’s showing off menu navigation. !!!!! You can select with your voice, too. He said “Zune” and it selected. Now he’s navigating through a film with his hands. Paused the movie with his voice. “Xbox pause, Xbox Play,” and it does. “Xbox, play music” and it does. That is COOL.

Marc again. FB, Netflix, Last FM, etc, all can be used with Kinect. Coming to every country with the Xbox. Xbox LIVE coming to Windows Phone7. ….. You can now use Kinect to communicate via video, like a web cam, and via the Kinect’s mic (so party chat with no headset). You can do this via LIVE or Windows Messenger. She’s demoing with a relative or something. You can watch a movie together this way. Um, wow. Ahaha, it’s cheesy and scripted. The other girl is moving and the Kinect is tracking her. “Xbox, End Chat,” and it goes away.

Marc again. Talking about a social living room. People are missing one important thing? ESPN apparently. I’m not missing that, I promise. On Demand and Live events through your Xbox. So…instead of just watching sports on your TV you can turn your Xbox on too. This is exclusive to the 360. 3,500 live and on demand events (these are Sports Center Guys doing a quick commercial thing, and now they’re on stage). *yawn* Lots in HD. This is probably exclusive to Gold users, like most things, though they haven’t said it outright yet. You an use Kinect with this too. Oh, wow… “Xbox, Replay” and it shows the last play. Trivia, polls…. It’s pretty interactive.

Back to Marc. Oop, there we go. He said “available to Gold users.” No additional cost.

Creative Director for Kinect, Kudo Tsunoda. Uniting people, etc. “Time for talk is over.” 6 launch games for this holiday. Cute little girl playing with a tiger. It responds to her voice and her movements. She jumps and the tiger jumps. ADORABLE. She hid behind something and the tiger is pressing up against the screen looking for her. Thought it was Viva Pinata at first, but this is a Rare game. She is jump roping with the tiger. OOOOOOH it’s CUTE. Kinectimals. Clearly a kiddie game, though.

Kinect Sports. Shin from Rare (Rare I guess is doing most of the Kinect development). He’s playing around in an arena. Where is the sports? They are…jumping hurdles??? Having some problems here. Running in place. Then they jump up to go over the hurdle. Nifty. But it’s like, Wii with more movement. It uses avatars, too. Montage of the sports you can play. Soccer, bowling, track and field, ping-pong, boxing, volleyball.

Kinect Joyride. Cart racing. Missed the girl’s name and studio. But she’s steering the car with just her hands. So far they’re just Wii games minus the controller. Nothing for the core here, but I guess they’re trying to hit the casual/family/kid market, which is fine. It’s not really a big market for them so far.

Kinect Adventures. I see a pattern here. Darren to demo. He is um, riding some kind of platform and leaning around to get coins, ducking under polls, things like that. Another guy comes onstage to play and the game automatically splits in two. It’s picking them up pretty well. The game took photos of them in the real space (you can post these to places like FB); that’s kinda neat. Another demo…some girls in an inner tube going down a river. I mean, it all looks cool, but it’s nothing I’m interested in. LOTS of active movement too; way more of a work out than the Wii games.

Other developers now. Ubisoft for Kinect. Looks like a workout game. Oh if I had a cute coach like that, I’d exercise more often…. It’s called Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. Felicia Williams from Ubi to talk about the game. Oh wow, she took off her sweater on stage and her image in the game did the same. It scans her body in and I guess…organizes the menus and things to her exact height/build. Celebrity trainer helped develop the game, and now he’s gonna talk about it. Martial Arts, yoga, gym activities. It remembers her preferences (fave routines) and tracks everything she is doing. It looks like there’s a teeny tiny lag on the screen. She’s doing tai chi as a cool down now. No remotes, to balance boards, just the Kinect camera.

Harmonix. Dance Central. Lead producer of the game is here, she’s dancing. I’m not sure if it’s teaching her, or just tracking her or what… I think it’s cycling through moves, and she’s performing them, like DDR. Alex Rigopulos, CEO. He’s talking about performing dances from original music videos of the songs they’re using. Another Harmonix guy, demonstrating a mode that teaches you the dance moves. Apparently this game is to teach nerdy white boys how to dance.

Phil is back. He’s been looking a little confused up there. November 4 is the launch for Kinect. More than 15 launch titles when it arrives. Exclusive arrangement with Lucas Arts…OMG. OMG OM GOMG OMGOIJSKHDGFHSD Star Wars Kinect. Lightsaber fighting, force power using. He’s deflecting blaster bolts, and the trailer cuts right before a duel with Vader. No live demo though.

Turn 10 Studios. Racing. Steering the car, checking mirrors, all with Kinect. Oh, it’s Forza. Finally some real games. Nifty stuff here, checking out the car inside and out with Kinect. 2011. Star Wars was 2011 too. So…just casual stuff for launch?

Don again. He’s wrapping up, I think. A brand new era for Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE. Kickstarting the new era with….a slimmer, sleeker 360. 250 gig HDD, built in WiFi, smaller, quiet, for…the same price as the new 360s are now. 299. Ships in…TODAY. Unless you are in the audience at the theater…and you get it now for free. ….. Damn. That’s…wow that’s rad. Go Microsoft.

And it’s over. Nice, with less talk and more footage but…lacking a bit in some areas. EA and Ubi coming in like…an hour I think.

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