Microsoft's E3 2010 Overview
Well, E3 is finally upon us, and just like they've done the last two years, the job of opening the event goes to Microsoft. There's a general consensus that their previous events were excellent, and there was little reason to expect this to be any different. With a bevy of AAA titles to display, it would seem that 90 minutes would too little time. However, things are certainly not as they seem, and as our own SuperAfroBoy put it, "I ignored my wife and kids for this?" I'll rundown all the games shown off and assign each a letter grade, so without further ado, let's go!
Not surprisingly, the first game out of the gate for Microsoft was Call of Duty: Black Ops being demoed live. It really wasn't anything to behold, it's Call of Duty. If you don't know what that looks like in action, where have you been for the past five years? Don't get me wrong, the game looks fine, but it's so pedestrian in its design. They're sticking so close to the formula that it's yawn-inducing. After the end of the demo, Don Mattrick came out and detailed a three-year agreement between Microsoft and Activision that would give all Call of Duty DLC timed-exclusivity on the Xbox. I still don't see what the point is as I doubt there is a Call of Duty fan so rabid that he buys an Xbox just to have five new maps one month early.
Oh sweet mother yes. After the reveal at last year's E3, there has been nary a word about the newest console Metal Gear Solid game. Being touted as a break from the series formula from the very beginning, we finally got to see Rising in action. Without a doubt, it was the most interesting game shown at Microsoft's presser. Starring Raiden (the MGS4 one, not the lame-ass MGS2 one), this game seems to focus a lot more on the action than the stealth. Featuring unbelievable amounts of gore, the entire trailer was people being chopped in half multiple times. It's something different for the MGS franchise, and if they can blend both the enthralling story telling of the series with some over-the-top action, this one is bound to be a wild ride.
I forget what this is called, and it really showed nothing at all about whatever the hell it was supposed to be. Regardless, the whole trailer was a fancy way of detailing Crytek being the newest member of the Microsoft Partners deal, placing games exclusively on the Xbox and PC. One can only wonder what this means for Crysis 2. Honestly, the announcement isn't that big and I sure as hell don't remember what the game featured in the trailer was.
This was another show stopper. It was to be expected that Gears would have an abundant presence at the event, and Cliff demoed some four-player cooperative play live. Simply put, it's Gears 3. The same gameplay you love, except bigger, better, and a lot more awesome. Both of the previous games had great multiplayer and campaigns, so this one is an absolute no-doubter when it hits next April. Cliff also teased that they were debuting a new Multiplayer mode called "Beast" on the show floor, so keep your eyes peeled for some info about that.
Now this is a game I thought that'd have a much larger presence. Peter Molyneux walked out, and I was all ready for tons of Kinect talk and all kinds of empty promises. However, he's out there for no longer then 20 seconds. He does a couple of name drops and a release date. A trailer played, and that was it. The trailer wasn't even that impressive either. As I'll talk about later, this is a symptom of Kinect cannibalizing all of the good content that the Xbox has to offer. This was a big disappointment.
Another inevitable guest at the event was Halo Reach. We all knew it was coming, we all knew it would be a single player level demoed, and sure enough it was just that. That being said, it was pretty neat to watch. Just as with Call of Duty, it's nothing mind-blowing. It certainly does seem to ring true of their promise to be more like Halo 1. It certainly had that sprawling feel to it, and that's a good thing. However, it's also a highlight of the tremendous shooter-fatigue that both the Xbox and the gaming industry as a whole is suffering from. For what it is though, this game looked solid and piqued my interest.
Oh boy here we go, Nearly 3/5 of the entire press conference was devoted to this. I'm not going to take my time splitting this up, I'm just gonna treat this all as one big announcement. Just as it's been leaked, Project Natal is now referred to as Kinect and it was just as underwhelming as you anticipated. A lot was touted about the tech and its ability to simplify menu navigation, and it was certainly neat. However, I get the feeling that it was all staged in an effort to cut down on any fuck ups. The most cringeworthy part of the conference was a demonstration of the video conference between Random Bitch #1 and her sister. It was absolutely terrible, and will certainly be remembered with such classics as 599 US DOLLARS and Ravi Drums.
The games themselves were actually LESS interesting if you can believe it. Sad to say, the highlight of the day was the pet simulator "Kinectimals." While pushing for the award for both the "World's Dumbest Title" and "World's Dumbest Concept," this was actually kind of funny to watch. Certainly not in a good way, but in an "I'm laughing at you, not with you!" way. Kinect Sports, The Wii Sports clone was shown off, and was also very generic. Honestly, I'm about to go to sleep just typing about this stuff.
The bottom line is, the technology is interesting, but there are no real applications for this yet in any way you should care about. The novelty of it wears off quickly, just as the Wii has shown us four years earlier. The frightening thing is how these are being advertised as full retail products. There doesn't appear to be much meat on these bones and I think Microsoft is facing an uphill climb to advertise all these games as being worthy of a full retail price. Wii Sports is an entertaining diversion for a while, but it comes packaged with the console for FREE. Wii Play was a best seller, but only because it came with a free WiiMote! Microsoft is going to have to pull out some kind of deal for this to make it worth anyone's time.
I know, I make things sound bleak and maybe I'm being too cynical, but this is just the wrong thing to be pushing at E3 in my opinion. The scariest thing of all is the fact that even after spewing forth every mind-numbing detail, they failed to give a price point! That means that either they aren't set on a final product, or they're just scared to admit how much this thing is going to cost at such a big event.
In closing, I was very disappointed with Microsoft's briefing this year. Of all the consoles, I'm certainly the most partial to my Xbox. Mass Effect, Fallout: New Vegas, this mystery Capcom sequel, these are ALL things I would've much rather heard about than Kinect. I knew there was going to be plenty of showcasing, but they failed to show me anything that would get me remotely interested in it. Like many of our forum members suggest, why not show us hardcore gamers some applications that would be relevant to our interests. The only answer I can fathom is that anything interesting just isn't ready and it'll be sometime before we wade through this shovelware shitstorm that Microsoft has brewed up.
Want some more E3? Check out some of our previous articles detailing some of the great past moments and some present day disappointments. Also, don't forget to check out all of our E3 hubabaloo in the forums! Check out the Nintendo and Sony Press Conferences as well.