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E3 2010: Grading the Microsoft keynote

June 14, 2010

Microsoft’s 360 keynote has been over for a few hours, and although I had opinions immediately, I decided to sit down and let them simmer. Now I’m ready. Are you, Microsoft? Because here it comes (not in any particular order).

I will begin by admitting immediately that, because of class, I arrived to the keynote at the Call of Duty: Black Ops segment. Treyarch unfortunately is in the same situation they were in two years ago. The guys originally behind Call of Duty just made a good Modern Warfare game that a lot of people enjoyed and are enjoying. Black Ops might have an easier time in trying to impress Call of Duty fans than World at War did, but not from what I saw. It looks great, but so does every other big game coming out this year. The helicopter ride towards the end looked like it could be fun, but then I realized it’s just an on rails segment — which I don’t mind at all, but I could get that from a different game.  However, this is not a Treyarch or Black Ops hate fest. I just wasn’t impressed.

That last sentence pretty much epitomized how I felt about the Microsoft keynote, unfortunately.

Cliffy B  was on stage demoing Gears of War 3, as he did in previous years with previous versions of Gears. This is what I want from a keynote. “Here’s the person in charge of the game playing the game.”  But, there wasn’t much to what was shown. I am not going to get excited just because there are female COGs. The COG vs Locust vs Lambent dynamic looks like it’ll be fun. I’m sure Clifford and Epic Games are playing this close to the chest, especially considering Clifford said they’ll be revealing a mode called Beast. Why not lead with the new mode?

There was footage from Halo Reach‘s campaign. It looked like Halo, and I’m happy about that. Did I see anything new gameplay wise? No, but Halo‘s gameplay has been essentially the same since Combat Evolved. Halo has always been a part of Microsoft’s keynote presentations whenever a new game is on the way so I won’t say keep Reach out. But I do think they should have had a sizzle reel of the best parts of the campaign.

A teaser of an exclusive game from Crytek. It’s hard to even speculate as to what it could be since so little was shown. They don’t even have an official title as it’s called “Codename Kingdoms.”

A trailer for Fable III. Thank you very much, Molyneux. I’ll see you in October, Albion.

Games, games, games. Good so far Microsoft. What? Oh right, your Live and Kinect presentation is next. I love Live, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not sure how much, in terms of excitement, that part of the presentation added to the keynote. Video Kinect is cool. Yes, it is basically Skype but that doesn’t mean the Xbox 360 can’t have it also. However, 360 owners have been able to watch the same movie together online via Netflix since the introduction of the Party system. So what I don’t get is why they made such a big deal of Video Kinect. Because it now includes News, Sports, and other things we can watch together? Or because I can watch movies while I watch my friend? I do like the idea of voice commands.

The Kinect presentation had me going from not caring at all to admitting that one game could be fun. Kinectimals. Kids will love it. Kinect Sports. Wii Sports in HD or in other words, meh. Kinect Joy Ride. I’d play this after Kinect Sports. Kinect Adventures. This could be fun in a family setting, or an alcohol one. Kinect Carnival, Kinect Plants, Kinect Energy, all look ok. I made up the last three. But they sound like they could be Kinect games don’t they?

The Kinect game from Ubisoft, Up Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, is less for me than the games I already mentioned. So I won’t talk about it. But Dance Central from Harmonix could be as fun as Dance Dance Revolution. Ahem.

Turn 1o had a Kinect demonstration. I laughed when I saw they were using a Ferrari to race against Ford station wagons. Examining the car looked cool but I don’t see a Forza fan doing that more than once. Finally, and this may be a given, but Kinect and other kinds of motion control will not work with racing sims.

The biggest part of the presentation was the end. Microsoft announced the rumored slim 360 all Apple like. Don Mattrick, Microsoft’s senior vice president of Interactive Entertainment Business, walked over to what I thought was just an Xbox 360. It actually was nothing but a case for the 360 slim. Mattrick said the slim was being shipped today, would be on shelves this week, and everyone in the theater got one for free on Microsoft. Very nice ending. Not so nice were the professional journalists standing in ovation at getting something free.

The 360 slim retails for $299, has built-in Wifi (five years late) a 240 GB hard drive, and a nice glossy black finish (here come the fingerprints). I expected more from Microsoft’s reveal of a slim system. Sony released their slim system with the 3.0 firmware. We might have to wait for Fall for any sort of update to the New Xbox Experience.

Overall I give it a C+. Too much talk, too much Kinect, not enough games that I care bout.

What did you all think of the keynote? Let us know in the comments and join me tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. EST as I liveblog Sony’s keynote.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 14, 2010 6:59 pm

    MGS Rising: Tactical Watermelon-cutting Action

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