E3 2011: Microsoft press conference roundup

Xbox 360

Microsoft finished its E3 press conference earlier this morning, and here is a summary of what happened during the two-hour presentation.

The press conference started off with an impressive Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 demo. It featured an underwater mission in which you must plant a mine on a submarine while avoiding explosions and dead bodies. After completing the objective and reaching the surface, burning buildings and smoke can be seen across the water.

Then some basic combat was shown as an infiltration on the submarine was carried out. After that the demo moved forward a bit "in the interest of time," and it ended on a high note as the player escaped on a speedboat amidst big explosions and attacking enemies.

Next up was a gameplay demo of Tomb Raider, Crystal Dynamics’ new series reboot. The game has been described as a mature take on the Lara Croft origin story, and this was made immediately apparent. Lara was tied up and hung upside down while being covered in dirt and blood. After escaping this predicament she takes a painful fall and screams out in pain.

While trying to escape, some mysterious men grab her and Lara must kick and wrestle with them to break free. After completing a short puzzle, the walls start to cave in and it’s a race to escape the collapsing passages. The demo ends with Lara finally reaching the outside, though it looks like she still has a long journey ahead of her.

At this point Kinect starts to take center stage in the press conference. EA Sports president Peter Moore comes out to reveal that four upcoming sports titles will feature Kinect support. They include the new Tiger Woods PGA Tour, FIFA, and Madden games. The fourth title will be announced at a later time.

Then it’s BioWare’s turn, as CEO Ray Muzyka reveals that Mass Effect 3 will also feature Kinect support. At this point a short gameplay demo is shown to demonstrate these new features. During conversations, the player can simply say one of the dialogue options out loud and the game will recognize that choice. As for combat, you can tell party members to move forward or to use certain abilities. For example, you can say, "Liara, use singularity" instead of using the controller.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is the next game up. Yet another demo is shown demonstrating Kinect’s capabilities, where the player will be able to customize virtually every part of their weapon in an easy and simple way. The actual gameplay will also include Kinect support, where the player can take a shooting motion to gun down enemies and reload. Ubisoft then announces that all future Tom Clancy titles will be Kinect-enabled.

Microsoft then began to move away from games for a short time, choosing to focus on the media and entertainment aspect of Kinect and the Xbox 360. A new Xbox dashboard experience is shown where navigating menus and searching for specific items will be even easier, especially with the new addition of Bing. Also, live television will be coming to Xbox Live, and Microsoft is now partnering with YouTube to bring viral videos to their service. The new dashboard experience will be coming this fall.

The press conference then transitions back to games, where platform-exclusive content starts to take the spotlight. Cliff Bleszinski comes on to show some of the Gears of War 3 campaign, along with the help of rapper/actor Ice-T. The demo showed Marcus Fenix and company facing off against a huge leviathan, and Ice-T closed the presentation by saying his rock band Body Count will write a song exclusively for Gears of War 3.

Then some very quick trailers were shown for Ryse, a first-person combat game with swords and shields, and Forza Motorsport 4. Also revealed was Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. This enhanced and updated version of the Xbox classic will include a remastered campaign, online cooperative multiplayer, and seven maps for online competitive multiplayer.

After those trailers, the press conference started focusing on Kinect again. Peter Molyneux came on to present Fable: The Journey, a first-person on-rails game for Kinect. A short gameplay demo showed the player controlling a horse, followed by some combat where magic was in heavy use. The game will come out in 2012.

Then a quick announcement was made stating Minecraft will be coming to the 360 with Kinect support. This was followed by a demonstration for Kinect: Disneyland Adventures. This title will allow players to explore the amusement park and also take part in rides and mini-games. Fans of Microsoft’s Skittles presentation from last year were in for a real treat, as two kids came on to play a Peter Pan mini-game. During the demo they exclaimed things such as, "Watch out!" and, "Get the special coin!"

The press conference immediately transitioned to a trailer for Kinect Star Wars, followed by a gameplay demo. It consisted of basic gameplay you would expect from a Star Wars game, such as slashing droids with your lightsaber and using force powers to move obstacles.

Then Tim Schafer came on to present Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster. This new Kinect title from Double Fine Productions focuses on children, and some gameplay was demonstrated by a father and son. They had to pretend to be scary monsters in one section, and in another they were collecting bugs from the air.

Kudo Tsunoda, Kinect’s creative director, then came out to talk about Kinect Fun Labs. This new service allows all Xbox Live members to access Kinect creations from the Xbox 360 community. A few programs were demonstrated, including one that allows Kinect to capture your face, hair, and clothes in order to create an avatar that looks just like you. Kinect Fun Labs will actually be going live today.

A couple of more Kinect games were then shown: Kinect Sports Season 2 and Dance Central 2. The gameplay demo for Kinect Sports Season 2 showed off some golf and football, which consisted of what you would expect from that type of game. In the presentation for Dance Central 2, it was revealed that the game will feature a new campaign mode, a redesigned "break it down" mode, and simultaneous multiplayer dancing.

Microsoft saved the biggest reveal for last, as a quick teaser trailer for Halo 4 was shown. Some people may not be surprised by this since the game was accidentally leaked on Xbox.com earlier this morning. Not much was shown in the trailer, but there was a glimpse of Master Chief, and the game will be coming out in "holiday 2012."


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Author: Anthony LaBella View all posts by
My first experience playing a video game blew me away. The fact that Super Metroid was that game certainly helped. So I like to think Samus put me on the path to video games. Well, I guess my parents buying the SNES had a little something to do with it. Ever since then my passion for video games has grown. When I found that I could put words together into a coherent sentence, videogame journalism was a natural interest. Now I spend a large majority of my time either playing video games or writing about them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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