Monday, June 14, 2010

Microsoft Conference Round-Up

The Microsoft media briefing took place on June 14, 2010, at 1:30 PM EST. Television broadcast was made available (and commercial-free, thank god) by Spike, which I watched the entire hour-and-a-half thing (I'm starting to get used to this).

Don Mattrick unveils a multi-year agreement with Activision that all map packs for the next three years for Call of Duty will launch first on the 360. Damn.

Hideo Kojima showed up to unveil Metal Gear Solid: Rising, but passed the unveiling off to Rising's producer, because, let's be honest, Hideo's English isn't all that hot, so he would feel highly uncomfortable to keep talking in a language he isn't familiar with. It was mainly a gameplay trailer, and it looks to play just like Devil May Cry. Watermelon cutting never looked so cool.

Cliff Blezinski came on stage, and gave a demo of a 4-player co-op campaign story chapter from Gears of War 3. It showed off the new lambent-infused enemies. Dismemberment galore. New melee kills (bayonet on your Lancer? yes, please). Weapon swapping, omni-directional damage indicator, and those new lambent enemies are shown to be tough as shit (it took all 4 of them to take them down, so teamwork is a must). They even send out baddies; the bigger the tentacles, the bigger the enemies that spawn from them, Berserker included, and a nice little Hammer of Dawn kill at the end. A new mode was hinted at, called "Beast." Uh-oh.

Peter Molyneux was there for Fable III, which takes place 50 years after Fable II, and to be honest, I couldn't care less.

Microsoft Games Studio's new, exclusive partner, Crytek (really?), with the game, codenamed Kingdoms. Looks very medieval.

Here's were Halo Reach comes in, and Bungie's creative director, Marcus Lehto, with a campaign level reveal. Looks like Elites have Spartan tech (Armor Lock, specifically). Seems like Rockets can lock on again (judging by the targeting reticule).

Kinect finally gets it's time during the conference. It looks like the Dashboard is going to look a lot different that the NXE we're currently using. The user-interface seems to be a lot easier to use - including voice commands, which are leaps and bounds above what I've seen or used (iPhone) before - and it looks like that Kinect could replace the controller for casual Dashboard browsing. Sadly, they used Justin Bieber for the music demo. FML.

Xbox LIVE stuff, including a WinMo7 reference, popped up, which started off with the "Video Kinect" (see what they did there?), which is basically video chatting, using Kinect, as opposed to the now-replaced Vision Cam. Better yet, it goes beyond simple video chatting, such as watching movies or videos together, listening to music, etc. There was even a stab at those who bought The Last Airbender on the 360 just to boost their GamerScore. Sad, really. Video Kinect will also be available to anyone using LIVE Anywhere on their computers.

ESPN gets it's own app on the 360. If I cared about sports, I'd be all up in this. Bathroom break.

A slew of launch titles for Kinect were shown off: Microsoft's version of Nintendogs, albeit with something other than dogs, Kinectimals. The technology behind it is incredibly similar to the Milo demo we saw last year. Wii Sports Kinect Sports has six games built into it, including track-and-field games, soccer and table tennis. Kinect Joy Ride is a Kinect-ed version of the Avatar-enabled game Joy Ride that launched on the Arcade a little while ago. Kinect Adventures seems like Ninja Warrior: The Game, with a bit of bromance on stage; drop-in-and-drop-out seems to work effortlessly. A river-rafting mini-game has a Mario-in-the-clouds homage. Ubisoft showed off Your Shape for the Kinect, which is Kinect's Wii Fit. Accurate body measurements and body temp was a bit creepy. Michael George seems too excited to be there. This seems a lot more engaging - and fun - than Wii Fit. Harmonix showed its Kinect game, Dance Central, which takes the Rock Band formula and implements it into a dancing game. Kinect launches on November 4, no price set.

Star Wars on Kinect! Good news, there are Force powers (Force Repulse and Force Dash). Bad news, it's an on-rails game.

Turn 10 was there, and gave us a Kintect-enbabled racing game (no name, but launches next year). As I said with the EPSN thingamajigger, if I cared about cars or this game, I'd love it.

The new Xbox 360 ships today, comes in black - 250GB - and is priced $299. They're keeping the older models on shelves with 120GB (white only) at $199.

The most shocking was the new, slimmer 360 ships today, and everyone at the conference got one for free. Good conference, focused primarily on Kinect, and a lot of game previews. Awesome.