HCF E3 Special – Part 1

E3 – The Big 3 Round Up: Part 1: Microsoft

Juanvasquez here, reporting from, well the HCF office. We can’t all be in LA can we? However, I can bring you all the info you need to know from the world’s biggest games expo. The big 3, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, have all shown us what we can expect over the coming 12-18 months, so here’s a run down of all the AAA titles and first party exclusives announced over the last couple of days.

We’ll start with Microsoft’s presentation.

Things kicked off with some game play for Modern Warfare 3. The graphics look pretty decent and it seems as though they are trying to do something a little different, as it started off with a bond-esque scuba diving sequence. It wasn’t long before things got Michael Bay, with a view of what looked like Manhattan being attacked in the distance. Things swiftly moved on to a submarine being attacked and stormed by soldiers, followed by a speed boat chase. Even the music sounds like something from a Michael Bay movie! After the (dragging) footage, there was a very brief talk from the developers, Sledgehammer and Infinity Ward.

Following the COD show, some more games, which we already know are coming out, were introduced. Firstly we had a game play section from the first level of the Tomb Raider reboot. Things are looking pretty good. Not for Miss Croft however. They seem to be putting her through hell! The new Tomb Raider game is aiming at the gritty and realistic side of things and this includes making Lara somewhat vulnerable. Unfortunately there was a hint of QTE. Something I’m not a fan of. Things are shaping up and this looks like one to keep an eye on.

Following on from this was a show from EA Sports. They have announced that they are integrating Kinect compatibility with some of their franchises. I can see this being enjoyable with Tiger Woods golf, but NFL and FIFA? No thanks! It was also hinted at that The Sims will utilise voice commands.

We then got a look at some footage from Mass Effect 3. Personally, I’m not a fan of these games, but I admit that part 3 looks special. When given dialogue options, you can engage in some parts of the conversation using your own voice. Not only that, but you can organise your squad using voice commands while engaging in combat.

We were then treated to a video of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. And after the rather good video, there was an example of the Kinect functionality with Ghost Recon. Ooh, he’s stripping down a gun with his hands and voice. Call me cynical, but I can’t see this being that good. Holding your palm out to fire a gun doesn’t look much fun! I’ll stick with the controller thank you! It just looked daft! We were also told that all future Tom Clancy titles will use Kinect. Yay.

We were then treated to what was coming up on Xbox Live. It looks like 360 owners are getting a new New Xbox Experience, with a voice activated dashboard. In my opinion, it can be quicker just to use your controller! We’ll also be seeing YouTube coming to the 360. Useful. And Bing will be available to. But only to find things available on Live, so no searching for porn on your 360 I’m afraid! Live TV will be streamed to the Xbox as well, which isn’t really news to those with Sky Player. I can only assume more channels will be added. And unless they start streaming in HD, you may as well just put the TV on. There appears to be a UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) channel coming to Live, giving you an interactive experience whilst watching the fights. Some options were to guess the outcome of the fight etc. Not my cup of tea, but I’m sure the UFC fans will lap it up.

Then the presentation moved onto the exclusives. Starting things off was a superb trailer for Gears of War 3. This rocked! We were then treated to a short game play section with rap star and GOW voice actor, Ice-T! Gears of War 3 is looking just as epic as its predecessor, making this the first game of MS’s conference that I’m genuinely excited about. This was followed by a video for Crytek’s next game, a swords and sandals ‘epic’, Ryse, which appears to be for the Kinect. What then followed was a short game play montage of Halo: Combat Evolve. Only this was a remastered version with contemporary HD graphics. This is to tie in with the 10th anniversary of the Halo Franchise (10 years already?!?!?).

We then got a look at Forza Motorsport 4. I’m not a fan of racing games myself, but it really is a looker, if anything. Possibly some of the best visuals I’ve seen for a racing game. Lionhead, followed this up with another Fable game. Only this one is for the Kinect. Enough already! This appears to be an on the rails version of Fable (think Resi’s Darkside Chronicles on the Wii), where you wave at the screen and shoot stuff at bad guys. And ride a horse and cart.

PC favourite, Minecraft, will be making an exclusive appearance on 360, utilising the Kinect. And if you though that Xbox couldn’t be going any more Wii, then you were wrong! Next we saw Disneyland! A Kinect utilising tour, with the most annoying kids showing how the game play works. “Get the coins, get the coins!!!” Shut up! This is definitely a game for young children. This just looks terrible. Queue the greatest opening theme to a movie you ever heard. That’s right, it’s the long awaited Star Wars Kinect! Oh wait, it’s set in the prequel universe. Never mind, it should still be good… Oh. Oh dear. Well that’s £40 saved anyway… I really hope it was just unfinished preview code that was shown as the whole thing looked very slow and wooden. The pod racing looked impressive, and the music was great, but it just looks far too clunky. This game would probably be good with a controller, but the character on screen wasn’t corresponding with half of the kid on stages movements. Big disappointment.

Wow, it’s Tim Schaffer! Wait, a Sesame Street game? That’s right, one of the greatest minds in video games is presenting his latest, a Sesame Street Kinect game. Another one for the younglings. We then saw a preview of Kinect’s ‘Fun’ Labs. This allows you to sample some new features for the Kinect that have been created using the Kinect development tools available to modders etc. I’ve had a hands on with the ‘Fun’ Lab. The first feature is Kinect Me. This is where the camera maps your image and transforms it into an avatar. The first 2 attempts I looked like a freckly 10 year old with a buzz cut. On my 3rd go I looked like a character out of The Dark Crystal. I think it may need some work. At this point the audience really had seemed to have lost interest. The applause had dried up, regardless of encouragement from the presenter. We were then shown Googly Eyes (with the most annoying music ever) where you scan in an object and give it googly eyes. And that’s it. I tried it with my Batman the Movie DVD. It looked like a piece of toast.

After the ‘Fun’ Lab, we were treated to a look at Wii Sports Kinect Sports Season 2. We saw an example of Kinect Sports golf, which looked OK, but has already been done 5 years ago. Then we saw Kinect Sports football (American). As you’d expect, it was loud. You basically have to shout commands in order to receive the ball which you would then throw to the quarter back, who will run on the spot to reach the end of the field. The annoying guys doing the demo really didn’t sell it. After that saw a preview of Dance Central 2, which is more of the same. And that was that. Aside from a teaser for Halo 4. Yes that’s right. Master Chief is back in a new adventure, which is the first of a planned trilogy of new Halo games.

That rounds up Microsoft’s E3 presentation, which, as a big 360 fan, was overall very disappointing. Apart from the odd game we already knew was coming, it really was a let down. This left things open for Sony and Nintendo to steal it this year. Didn’t it?

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