Xbox – E3 2011 Round Up

So, Microsoft’s long-awaited E3 dog and pony show is now finished and the results are in.

As expected Microsoft is looking to solidify their position as the leading console provider of this generation by bringing in more…… just more. YouTube for Xbox, Bing Live Search, UFC live fights and back catalogues, additional live TV services, oh and trying to convince everyone that Kinect is the future of everything.

That’s right, its not going away, and Microsoft really want the Minority Report to become a reality with Kinect being at the centre of almost everything seen at E3.

Don’t get me wrong, we all agree that Kinect is a brilliant bit of kit, and can provide some really enjoyable experiences, but the concern is shoe-horning the little bugger into situations where it is not needed, or simply making games for the sake of utilising Kinect. Voice recognition, full body scanning for avatars, finger recognition and 3D modelling were all displayed, and brings the device back into line with the initial billing 2 years ago. Microsoft have brought the homebrew developments from PC and allowed Xbox owners to experience all of these through Kinect Labs. Whilst fun in its own right, it will be interesting to see how these ideas are developed and incorporated into future releases.

Ubisoft demonstrated well how Kinect could potentially be used to customise weapon setups, configs and make navigation through menu’s cleaner, however it was BioWare and their adoption for the up and coming Mass Effect 3 where Kinect seemed to fit best. Users will now be able to issue commands to your team and engage in conversation with NPC’s instead of using the decision wheel seen in the last two games. Great, wow, that’s changed my life….. not really, but this is by far the simplest and best example of Kinect making something simpler, quicker and immersive, than clunky, clumsy or just getting in the way.

Crytek have entered the craze with Ryse, a decent looking Gladiatorial adventure set in Rome. Nothing about the story was revealed but there was plenty of flesh, blood and swords, so they shouldn’t go too far wrong. Whilst Forza 4 is set to continue the series, fine tuning slight elements rather than re-inventing the wheel, still as visually stunning as before.

Gears of War 3 was demoed by Cliff Bleszinski, with no Kinect support, but needless to say the campaign game is looking as awesome as the Beta was to play.

Peter Molyneux gave one of his shortest and least boastful appearances for some. No promises of delivering the most surreal, lifelike, emotionally disturbing, childlike, evolving or organic titles, just that they were excited about using Kinect and have made an onrails experience set in Albion to continue the story of Fable with Fable: The Journey. Hopefully this is simply going to be a side game, and not actually affect the story that has been spun so far, as this would be an example of where the use of motion control is not needed.

Call of Duty fans will be happy to know that for as long as they own a 360 for the next 12 months, they will be able to smugly lord over their PS3 chums with Microsoft confirming first access to all DLC for the forseeable future.

Halo Anniversary, released this November will be an HD reboot of the game that started it all, with online co-op and the return of some of the best multiplayer maps from the series. This is essentially Halo in a set of Reach pajamas allowing you to re-live the glory of the Masters Chiefs first outing, or was that second…..?!

One that I’m sure Ed will be happy with is the introduction of Minecraft to Xbox. As with everything new, there will be some Kinect functionality, but this will be one of the projects that we are all very much looking forward to seeing. Given its current success and still only in Beta on PC, Xbox users were promised a release for the holiday season this year. So get your creative hats on ready for Christmas, and start dusting off those shovels once more.

And finally, you didn’t think he had gone away, Halo 4 will be released next year. From the video it appears that Bungie have been in development creating the next installment and a promise of another three chapters for our chum’s John and Cortana, waking from a deep sleep to find what looked like the Pillar of Autumn tumbling toward a Halo ring with a wormhole in the centre, we can only guess as to how the story will spin out from this one.

So, that’s a great start, hopefully Sony and Nintendo won’t let us down….

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