Let me start off with full disclosure: I didn’t own a 360 until very recently. As a result, my immediate attachment toward many Xbox-exclusive franchises is fairly low. This conference was, however, a chance for Microsoft to show me something that could potentially drive me to buy more games for their platform over Sony’s or Nintendo’s. Here’s the rundown:
I’ll freely admit that I barely know anything about Halo, but the trailer seemed to explain that this is effectively a move away from the traditional Covenant enemy. This new branch of the story might actually interest me, though my dislike of console FPS doesn’t make me likely to play this title.
Splinter Cell Blacklist
What happened here? Sam Fisher was pretty much portrayed as an action hero with cover mechanics, in-motion lethal accuracy and Max Payne slow-mo. That’s in far contrast to him being an assassin who can use technology and stealth to get his to his target without taking on an army. That aside, I have no outstanding problems with the control mechanics shown off during the demo. The Kinect voice bit, however, was fairly gimmicky and entirely possible on the PS3 and even the Wii. I don’t enjoy shouting commands at my TV, so that’s one feature I’ll work around.
EA Sports – FIFA 13 and Madden 13
I don’t like the very idea of sports being made into video games. If I want the adrenaline rush of watching sports, I watch them live or on TV. If I want the adrenaline rush of playing sports, I play them for real. The addition of Kinect voice commands makes this even less interesting, as mentioned in my Splinter Cell Blacklist rundown.
That said, I really liked one Kinect feature: Referee Feedback. That’s one way to keep people from swearing during games. It’s a novel feature that I wish came standard with more online games. The possibilities of penalties to foul-mouthed people are amazing and potentially hilarious.
Fable: The Journey
It’s a Kinect controlled, magic based FPS. I don’t see myself playing this, much like I didn’t play Deadmund’s Quest on the PlayStation Move. I can only assume fans of Fable are also upset that no “real” Fable game was announced, either.
Gears of War: Judgment
I have a personal vendetta against the Gears of War franchise, but that won’t stop me from at least trying to look at this trailer with a clean slate…
…that was short! So the only takeaway I got from the trailer is that we’re finally seeing a male character (main character?) with hair!
Once again, a trailer with no actual gameplay but this time with some really heavy dubstep that transforms into what seems like alternative rock. Nothing else really grabbed me over their presentation of Forza 3 a year ago.
Bing Voice Search
As said before, I don’t enjoy talking to my TV.
I’m not one to shy away from turning off a machine to access different content on another. Microsoft isn’t really speaking to me when they want to bring me tons of TV and online video content I already get without paying for LIVE Gold.
My other concern comes from me not residing in the United-States. Many services announced throughout E3 in years past have often conveniently omitted the US-only stipulations, even though the show is supposed to showcase content for all of North America. While I’m not expecting them to show me a table that cross references the availability of each service in each country, I would like for them to at least mention “North America” when it’s not just for the US.
I’m well aware that the Zune store is being supplanted by this. However, my musical tastes are far more often covered by iTunes first, if at all. Microsoft would need exclusivity in podcasts to get me on their service, which they actually started out with a select few.
I’m not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination and this title looks like it’s marketed and even made for them rather than me. I’m not sold on this over getting professional help.
This presentation was hit-or-miss with me. On one hand, I really like the idea of having pause-and-go mobile support, though the logistics need to be explained more. On the other, having additional information on playback doesn’t seem that interesting to me if it’s only available while I’m trying to actively watch a TV show or play a game. Making it available to not only Windows Phones and Tablets, but to Android and iOS means I will definitely try it out for myself once it’s available.
Six years overdue, but still a welcome addition. SmartGlass’ integration is fairly useless, however. Why? Because all smartphones and tablets have browsers, so why use them to control a TV browser? Using a controller isn’t entirely awkward, so let’s hope Microsoft focused on that as well.
Things have come full circle, haven’t they? Uncharted was once accused of being a Tomb Raider rip-off with a male lead, but now Tomb Raider could easily be mistaken for Uncharted with a female lead. Not that it’s a bad thing, though. This is easily my most anticipated AAA title at Microsoft’s conference, but I won’t be getting it on 360. The game being multiplatform basically made this entire sequence into an advertisement for the PS3 version, regardless of the quickly-mentioned timed DLC exclusivity while the presenters’ microphones were cutting out.
Ascend: New Gods
The trailer for this game made it look like a God of War clone, but it turns out this game is an RPG. That alone is enough to grab my attention, so I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for this game. I just wish it was one of the games presented in detail by its developers, because the setting might actually be a great replacement for the forcibly-defunct Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
Nothing much was revealed here, so I’ll reserve judgment until more is shown. The motorcycle is giving me TRON flashbacks, so that’s a plus.
Yet again, another cryptic trailer. The fact that it’s a Kinect title reduces my interest dramatically, but if it’s as interesting as games like Portal, it could finally sell me on the device.
Resident Evil 6
My intense dislike of Survival Horror and anything focused on zombies has always made me dislike the franchise.
This is a game that takes the successful Angry Birds concept and adds some Kinect flair. Once again, not for me. The guy talking to you before each shot is quite annoying and reveals that I’m not even in the age demographic of this game.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
By far the most exciting, funny, interesting and fanservice-filled game presented at this conference. The fantasy game, TV show and movie references in that single trailer were overflowing and the signature abrasive comedy made me genuinely happy to see a South Park game with this setting.
On a side note, Trey Parker taking a dig at SmartGlass only minutes after Microsoft announced and promoted it is just testament to how much power Trey and Matt have right now. I’m already sure the game won’t disappoint based on that alone. Knowing them, they might even make fun of the feature within the game itself.
Dance Central 3
Look, I know there has been criticism of Usher showing up and not even dancing to the game. It should be known that Microsoft has done this Every. Single. Year. It’s somewhat of a tradition and I’m all for it breaking the mood of nervous presenters.
What about the game itself? I’m not a fan of motion controls in the first place, but I’m also not attracted by the track lists they have in the series.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
I won’t lie: I don’t like Call of Duty‘s brand of FPS. Modern and historical warfare just don’t catch my attention like full-on science fiction. That being said, the futuristic weaponry and gadgets being shown off here got me slightly interested. However, this is a title I would rather play on PC regardless of any exclusivity deals Microsoft can have.
So there you have it, Microsoft’s conference covered “from the other side”. As someone who just recently got a 360, only two items stood out as games I would play on the platform in the coming year: Ascend: New Gods and South Park: The Stick of Truth. Tomb Raider seems like a game that would go nicely with my Uncharted collection on PS3, regardless of timed DLC exclusivity. Same goes for Splinter Cell Blacklist.
Microsoft ended up underwhelming me this year. While they showed off a lot of technology that could come in handy once they fully integrate and perfect it before launching the next console cycle, they seemed to forget that E3 is traditionally where you’re supposed to get people excited for the current year or products, not wish for the next one. With them saying we might need to endure 2013 without a new console announcement, much less launch, they will need to step things up next year and send off the 360 with a bang. Failing to do so will definitely see them deserving the ridicule and flak they have received for focusing so much on Kinect.
Disclaimer: As someone who dropped out of console gaming back in the mid-PSOne/N64/Saturn days, I only rejoined the party two years after the current generation started. I have primarily been and still remain someone who prefers Sony consoles over Nintendo and Microsoft, so this puts me in a unique “opposite” position from David’s. My game preferences are also fairly different and are as follows.
Likes: RPG, Platformer (mostly Mega Man and Kirby), “Musou” (think Dynasty Warriors and its brethren), Adventure, Third Person Shooter, Monster Hunting
So-so: Quick Time Event Action (God of War), Strategy, Stealth, Puzzle, PC First Person Shooter
Dislikes: Survival Horror, Console First Person Shooter, anything Zombie-focused, Motion, Racing, Fighting, Party