This year at E3, the Microsoft Press Conferences chose to make Kinect their main focus. Now, like it or not, the Kinect is extending the life cycle of the Xbox 360. But at what cost? Microsoft has been pushing Kinect with a half a billion dollar campaign. That’s a lot for a motion device, but has the Kinect proven itself to the hardcore yet?
Much like the Wii, the majority of Kinect games thus far have been for the casual audience. But at E3 the Microsoft showed that Xbox exclusives that are integrating Kinect in some shape or form. The question must be asked: is this a good thing for hardcore games? And, more importantly, is this integration a novelty to sell Kinect, or is it going to add functionality that truly extends the gaming experience?
Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3, god I want to play you so bad, you have no idea. Mass Effect 2 ended on such a cliffhanger that it made me immediately crave Mass Effect 3. I played all the Mass Effect 2 DLC and I still had that craving. So seeing the first bit of Mass Effect 3 gameplay at this year’s E3 made me jump for joy.
During the Microsoft Press Conference, Bioware off showed voice command capabilities for Mass Effect 3. The demo featured a scene with Commander Shepard and Mordin Solis as they are searching for a Krogan Queen. During the demo you can use the Kinect to issue commands to your squads, such as “move up” to get your team in position for a tactical advantage. The game’s dialogue tree was also showed using the Kinect. The device allows you to say your conversation choice instead selecting it via the controller. I think it’s a nice way to immerse you into the game and make you feel like Commander Shepard, and I can see myself using it quite a lot.
Mass Effect 3 comes out March 3.
Ghost Recon where have you gone? It’s been four years since we last saw a new Tom Clancy game. It’s hard to imagine such a layoff from the series that was once among the major first person shooters on the Xbox 360. Why the break? Did it simply not make money? No, it's just been laying low. The franchise was doing quite well in terms of sales but had to take a break to avoid being overexposed (something I wish EA would do with Madden).
Ghost Recon Future Solider was announced in 2009 and there have been numerours tech demos showing that the game was on track to hit it’s 2011 release date, but the game has been delayed for various reasons. At this year's Ubisoft press conference, Ghost Recon displayed several Kinect applications and I was rather impressed. Using the Kinect you will be able to pick your weapon attachments by simply using your arms. You can also fire your gun using the Kinect. Of course, these are just optional, but they could add a new level of depth to the experience.
The demo shown at the Ubisoft Press Conference displayed a group of Ghosts charging a remote village and recovering a VIP. Much like the last year's E3 Demo, the Ghosts used a personal camouflage system and a small drone that scouts the battlefield. One of things I was impressed with was the new squad mechanic where your fellow Ghosts will react to enemy movement and make wise decisions. I have been following this series for a while and was bummed out that it was delayed for Kinect. However, I see the advantages of Kinect in Future Soldier and I like the spin they’re putting on the military shooter genre.
Ghost Recon Future Solider comes out 2012.
Metal Gear Solid: Rising
One of my biggest disappointments from this year’s E3 was the no show of Metal Gear Solid: Rising. I have been a big Metal Gear Solid fan and I was very surprised to see Hideo Kojima walk onto the stage during Microsoft’s big reveal of the Kinect last E3. Hideo Kojima showed off a trailer for the game that had Raiden slicing away the PMC army with his katana, showing the emphasis of Kinect in the new Metal Gear Solid.
Unlike most Metal Gear games, Matsuyama stated that Rising “will put a greater emphasis on gameplay while having a less complicated story”. That may be a welcome change for many people, but I have always appreciated the franchise because all the games were connected and each one offered an in-depth story. That being said, I can’t wait for MGS: Rising. While there is little information on how Kinect will be used in-game, if the device is integral to the experience, Metal Gear Solid: Rising could be the first game that helps show that the Kinect isn’t just for the causal audience in a significant way.
Metal Gear Solid: Rising comes out 2012.
Kinect could bring a lot of positives to the 360. If major publishers get behind Kinect and make AAA games with it then Microsoft might have something more than a HD Wii on it's hands, but it's still to early to say. However, these three titles alone have a lot of potential and could bring hardcore gamers to the motion detection party. If this happens, more developers may follow suit and we may see even more involving uses of Kinect in our AAA titles.