E3 Impressions: Microsoft’s Press Conference

Monday was the unofficial start of E3, the largest video game convention of the year. This year, as always, Microsoft was the first company to the plate. If you listened to our Pre-E3 podcast, you’ll know that Chas and I had incredibly low expectations for the show overall but in particular for Microsoft. Let’s see if they can live up to those expectations!

Halo 4: B+
Basically, it looked like Halo. Nothing surprising, but still a lot of fun. I’ll pick this up this November.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist: A
I’ve never enjoyed Splinter Cell games, but the trailer was pretty awesome. It was brutally violent. The guy playing makes the game look awesome and looks like a total badass. I’m sure I’d just get caught immediately. The player uses Kinect to shout “hey you” at the baddie. Pretty cool idea. Splinter Cell: Blacklist is due out Spring 2013, so we have a wait.

Madden and FIFA with Kinect: C-
You can command the action without having to pause the game. Referee tracker reacts to you swearing at the officials. I’m not good enough to use this effectively.

Joe Montana comes out to a good reception (this is California). You can call audibles and hike. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t just use the buttons. Releases August 28th.

Fable: The Journey: F

The game’s visuals aren’t even that good which is strange for an on-rail shooter. Handing out Hadoukens. This really looks terrible.

Gears of War Judgement: B

No gameplay shown and this was very short. Coming 2013, this will be their big holiday game next year. It’s Gears, you know what to expect.

Forza: Horizon: B+

Looks like Forza meets Burnout and contains day and night racing. Also, some non-official courses. The game is coming October 23, 2012. Forza can use a shake up so I was happy to see this.

Non-Game Announcements: C+

  • More Voice Control with Kinect- Bing searches, but who cares? Saying “Xbox, Killer Elite” takes much more time then pressing “A”
  • Nickelodeon, Paramount Movies, Machinima, and Univision partnership- more content is better, but I don’t care about these except for Paramount.
  • ESPN expanding to 24/7 content called Watch ESPN. UFC, MLB.TV in past, NBA to Xbox with League Pass. NHL Gamecenter as well.
  • Xbox Music – 30 Million music tracks. I have Spotify, no thank you.

Nike + Kinect Training: D

This is so boring. You can be reminded bothered via your phone when you’re due for a workout. I have EA Active 2 and the Kinect does a lousy job of tracking me. They seem to say that you’ll get good feedback from your digital trainer. I’ll believe this when I see it.

Xbox SmartGlass: A

This makes all your devices work together smartly allowing you to move from watching a movie on a tablet to watching it on your TV. Your tablet then gives you information about the movie. I think this has a lot of potential, including taking some of Nintendo’s advantage of using two screens. Also, they’re bringing Internet Explorer to Xbox this year because “keyboards don’t belong in the living room.” I agree. Chas does not.

Tomb Raider: A+

Looks a lot like Uncharted, which is a good thing. Lara Croft is handing out some brutal arrow kills but she’s also getting beat up pretty badly. Pretty awesome sequences. First DLC available exclusively on Xbox 360. This game looks awesome, unfortunately it won’t be out until 2013.

Other Games: D

  • Signal Studios (creators of Toy Soldiers)- Ascend: New Gods– lots of gory combat but I’m not sure what the game is though. Coming 2013
  • LocoCycle from Twisted Pixel- I have NO clue what is happening here. Also coming 2013
  • Matter for Kinect- Gore Verbinski, Director of Pirates. Again, quite confusing on how to play. 2013

Resident Evil 6: B

It looks fine, but it’s Resident Evil so whatever. You know what you’re getting. Coming out in October.

Wreckateer for Kinect: F

This might be good for little kids but it is just Angry Birds. Not for me. Coming out this summer.

South Park: The Stick of Truth: B-

Trey Parker and Matt Stone come out and make fun of connecting multiple devices which gets the biggest laugh of the day. Not a lot of game details other than it’s an RPG and you’re in the town of South Park. I’m interested but wary. It was recently delayed to 2013.

Dance Central 3: F

Usher comes out to dance. I’m not watching an Usher concert. Fast Forward. Nothing to see here.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2: B

Like the past, all DLC launches first on Xbox 360. Like Resident Evil, it looks fine, but it’s Call of Duty. Whatever.

Conclusion: C-

It looks like we were pretty on the money. Microsoft is playing it safe and made no announcement regarding a new system. They’re happy to let their big games speak for themselves and pushing Kinect hard. They have timed DLC agreements on multiple big games as a way to try to get consumers invested in the Xbox product over the PS3. There wasn’t anything new and exciting here to get everyone talking, so from a viewers perspective it was pretty disappointing. This year should be pretty similar to years past: Halo and Call of Duty will sell millions.

Stay tuned tomorrow for my impression of Sony’s show and on Wednesday I’ll recap Nintendo’s show. Let me know your thoughts on Microsoft’s E3 showing!

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