Quick E3 write up.
The general consensus for Microsoft's press conference is in, and it's surprisingly messy. Like many of you this morning, I woke up at 9:30, jumped on GameTrailers and got myself psyched and ready. What followed was something that I have trouble grasping words to describe. In the GiantBomb IRC chat-room, users, myself included, had trouble containing themselves. If you have not had the "luxury" of watching the conference from beginning to end, you might want to give that a second thought. Nintendo might have given us vitality sensors and putting smiles on faces. Sony apparently has an army of giant enemy crabs, but nothing, nothing really came close to what was on display this morning. Disappointment and confusion might be a way to describe it, but I would argue that the whole damn thing was a giant missed opportunity
How hilariously unfocused was it?: The thing opened with a demonstration of Call of Duty Black OPS, showing a character being knifed in the throat in the tunnels of the Vietnam War. It ended, with a six year old asian girl playing with an HD interactive pet named Skittles.
You simply can't make this shit up.
What went right?
Consider me impressed by Call of Duty Black Ops. Treyarch seems to be taking the torch that was thrown at them in stride, the game's engine is doing a lot of things at once. Vehicle combat has been done before, but the fluidity of the sequence looked great. I also like that Treyarch has decided to adopt....modern....story-telling techniques, with the main character clearly talking while you play.
In fact it's largely regarded that the first portion of the conference went pretty smooth, if not a bit underwhelming. Halo is still Halo. Gears of War is still Gears of War.
What went wrong?
Which immediately brings me to this section. While not as pronounced as Nintendo simply, not having anything, the same feeling of "what's new?" permeated throughout this presentation. Crytek, is working on something involving actors dressed up as gladiators or something walking toward a camera in slow-motion. I guess. There was something very off-setting with the franchise trifecta being showed off, and so heavily invested into during the presentations beginning. There were general statements without context thrown about like crazy. No one played multiplayer on consoles before Halo apparently? Sure, why not! The lack of nothing new on display was astounding.
"LOOK AT THE WATER!"
So while the first part of the presser was pretty underwhelming, though not horrible, it paled in the train-wreck that followed. Forget that this is E3, forget that this is a press conference. This thing had the most ham-fisted dialog I have ever had the displeasure of listening too. I was crying tears of laughter during the video-chat segment. My praise and admiration, to anyone who was there physically in the theater, and got through that with a straight face. I stand and applaud you, whoever you were. For a moment I thought time had magically turned back, it was the 90's and I had just opened my gaming magazine to this.
The product should sell itself, you should of course be enthusiastic: But the enthusiasm on display here was so over-the-top it actually dwarfed the product. It's the difference between two people desperately trying to make something looked exciting, and a crowd erupting in laughter with the simple act of Raiden cutting watermelons. This makes sense because there's apparently nothing really of interest on display here. Don't worry, I know that's a loaded gut-reaction statement and I'll get to explaining that in just a minute.
The pinnacle? Two girls playing Kinect Adventure, and at on point the phrase "Look at the Water!" is exclaimed. Yes, I am looking at the water. Unlike you, I have played other videogames that have water effects. You apparently haven't, because the disconnect is apparently as wide as a canyon between the people setting up this show, and their customers!
It was like they were going for, "How many negative internet meme's can we come up within an allotted time period."
Thanks to this press conference: I have no interest in the Kinect.
Which makes me mad.
Now I would like to illustrate my bias. My perception of Project Natal has always been this evolution of motion controls in HD. My apologies for even considering this concept. Please though, have sympathy. When you tout out Steven Spielberg, and the media blast from last year....Perhaps I was ignorant. Perhaps I'm being ignorant now.
The real question regarding motion controls, even back to the Wii, is if it's a better substitute for buttons. If your a developer, can you get a new tangible experience out of flailing around, versus pressing "A". I find it very telling, that perhaps the most applicable example of Kinetic was during the Forza demo. Again with over-enthusiasm, we got to open doors and walk around a car.
Ya'know, like Heavy Rain.
What is Kinect?
Microsoft's direct answer to the casual audience that the Wii has taken. Nothing more, nothing less, and that's what bothers me.
Here was this great example for lots of 3rd party developers to showcase this product, and we get Wii-knock off after Wii-knock off. The only other game that wasn't a Wii-knock off or tech-demo? Star Wars. Is there a title for it, aside from Star Wars? No.
That's it? That's the support for it? Does anyone else thing the lack of on-display 3rd party games, of things the Wii hasn't done yet....disconcerting?
This whole thing really put me in a bad mood. Really interested in what Nintendo does tomorrow, really interested in what Sony does tomorrow.