Microsoft 2011 E3 Press Conference Recap

E3 kicked off today with what can be described as the press conference with the least amount of hype, Microsoft’s. Microsoft had no new hardware to show off so they had to make it up with the software, but did they?

Microsoft’s press conference kicked off with gameplay footage of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 which may seem strange as its a multi-platform game but its actually a good decision. Why wouldn’t you want the most popular game of the year shown off on your platform and not shown off on your competition. And it was announced that once again, Xbox 360 owners get DLC before their Playstation 3 counterparts. Overall, the gameplay was impressive with an underwater mission which led to shooting on a boat with great graphics, it seems like this could be as successful as its predecessors. Coming November 8th and if you liked Modern Warfare 2, you’ll love this.

Microsoft then Announced that the last year was the biggest year in Xbox history and it would continue this year and also announced that they aim to go from being the best selling console in North America to being the best selling console worldwide very soon. Not sure about that one, though.

Crystal Dynamics was on stage next and showed off the brand new Tomb Raider game which is basically an origin of Lara Croft story. This seemed to be a very cinematic game with a great atmosphere and it just shows how well Crystal Dynamics are doing with the license since the travesty that was Tomb Raider The Angel of Darkness and it shows that the license is in very good hands and this latest game should prove to be excellent.

Peter Moore from EA Sports came out next and joked that it seemed familiar to him (he used to work for Microsoft before leaving for EA Sports). He announced that the next iterations of Tiger Woods, Madden, Fifa and the next version of The Sims will all have Kinect Support which will enhance gameplay. This was not shown, only announced so its unknown at this point how its implemented. They also announced that Mass Effect 3 will have Kinect support but they only showed off the voice capabilities. Players will be able to use their voice in conversations in the game and to also issue commands during battles (wasn’t this in SOCOM for the PS2 8 years ago?).

Ubisoft were up next and showed off the new Ghost Recon Future Soldier and demonstrated how it can be controlled exclusively via Kinect and it worked surprisingly well. The question is however, how will it compare to a controller when playing for a long period of time. I will personally prefer a standard controller in a gaming marathon. Then they announced that all future Tom Clancy games will have Kinect features, this covers Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six.

They then talked about the next Xbox firmware update that comes later this year, usually October or November. This new update has Kinect integrated immediately and does not require a Kinect specific interface. Also at this point, they announced Youtube and Bing will be coming to Xbox. Bing will be used to search for media it seems and is not a true web search engine. The question is, why won’t Microsoft introduce a web browser? At this point they announced that Xbox will be getting live TV and introduced Dana White from UFC to show off UFC programming on Xbox.

Time to go back to games and every game shown at this point would be Xbox 360 exclusive. They started with Gears of War 3 with Cliffy B and Ice T. They showed off the campaign mode and from what little they showed, it seemed like more of the same of the previous 2 games but multiplayer will be this games main strength. They also announced a new Kinect game called RYSE which set in Rome and seems to be very violent. Nice. And then, they announced that the rumours were true and the original Halo was being remade and remastered ready for a November 15th Launch. So thats MW3 on November 8th and Halo on November 15th, will it impact sales?

They showed off Forza 4 a little next and followed up with a new Fable entitled Fable The Journey which was also Kinect controlled (notice a pattern?). Next is was announced that Minecraft is coming to Xbox 360 and Kinect and also Disneyland for Kinect is coming which lets you visit Disneyland from the comfort of your living room. Next up was Kinect Star Wars, a game many people have been waiting a year to see and it didn’t disappoint. It is simply what you’d expect from a Kinect Star Wars game and hopefully will not be a let down as many people are anticipating its release. Then it was time to show off the brand new Sesame Street game.

Moving on, Microsoft basically said that people have hacked Kinect and have done things with it that surprised them and that inspired Kinect Fun Labs. A set of features and tools that can be used to enhance Kinect such as finger tracking and the ability to scan toys, skateboards and anything else you want and they appear on screen and possibly use them in games. This was actually very impressive. There were 2 final Kinect games announced at this point, a new Kinect Sports featuring baseball, skiing, golf, darts, tennis and american football, and Dance Central 2. These 2 games seemed like more of the same of its predecessors.

And finally it was time for the big announcement. The dawn of a new trilogy for Xbox 360. HALO 4 COMING HOLIDAY 2012. This means that Halo 4, 5 and 6 will be coming to Xbox 360 which begs the question, how long will this generation of consoles last?

In summary, this conference was basically used to showcase Kinect but unlike last years conference, this year was focused on hardcore games and they did not disappoint on this front. It was a solid press conference, no new hardware, no real surprises just really a confirmation of rumours and a lineup of solid games which should leave no one disappointed and of course that last announcement made it special. Halo is coming back and hopefully in a big way.

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