Having just finished watching the Microsoft exhibition of their latest innovations and various sports with no thanks due to my excessively laggy connection, I have collected my thoughts on it and would like to share them with the general community. My predictions on Microsoft's conference that I've made on my previous blog post has seemed to have been proven right with the facts that they concentrated on Kinect games and concepts, having COD BLOPS 2 on center stage with some timed exclusives here and there, Halo 4 and a new Gears of War game possibly making an appearance.
I have to admit though; it did have it's fair share of interesting things to show to the general public and there were some mildly interesting surprises as well. Just to have a rather quick breakdown on what was announced, I'll give a brief opinion on what was announced and follow it up if need be.
Halo 4 looks very good and there seems to have been a lot of effort in the art style and the level that was shown in the trailer. The Covenant and a collection of new enemies who look like masses of flesh who seem to be scurrying about with a level of force and fluidity that belies a certain menace which I hope will be because of some new form of enhanced enemy intelligence.
Cortana called them "Defense A.Is" I think and they seem to have an ability that can allow them to quickly transport like the aliens from Duke Nukum Forever. While that seems to be an unflattering comparison, I'm sure that 343 Studios will execute it better than the group of companies that tried and failed to make Duke Nukum Forever work. I'm not very savvy on Halo lore and will be most interested in who Cortana was talking about and who the "Reclaimer" actually is.
Seeing Splinter Cell Blacklist was a nice surprise and seeing Sam Fisher getting down in the nitty gritty of the action. While it seems to be a departure from their original roots, it looks like a solid enough title. However, it looks like an action game with stealth rather than a stealth game with an action side. While that seems to be an arbitrary point, I'll stick by it. It's not as if Conviction set the heather on fire the last time around, but this next game will surely garner enough interest.
EA Sports Head talks about Kinect implementation in their upcoming Sports titles such as Madden and FIFA. While it looks and sounds interesting, one does wonder if it's possible for the Kinect to cut through thicker accents than the usual pristine American accent or the cut-glass English accent. I will wait and see if the Kinect is capable of understanding a Scot's accent when I get round to acquiring one.
I don't have much hope on Fable The Journey because of how utterly tedious and boring Fable 3 turned out. Could be surprised, but I'm not convinced.
The Gears of War trailer showed Baird in chains, and doesn't give too much away. Produces the desired effect for calmly hyping the game up. Certainly one to look out for.
Since I'm not a fan of racing games in general, Forza Horizon is underwhelming to me to say the least. However, I am interested in how the latest game will be structured or if it's slightly more open world than the usual track layouts that seem to come with most realistic car simulators.
The next thing that I can gather from the onslaught of media apps like Paramount pictures was the focus on the "Bro" gamer who enjoys the various American sport that is on offer. One media app that did strike my fancy was the UFC app and how you could vote on upcoming fights (with your Windows 8 tablet and phone?) which I found quite interesting. However, I wished they had a release date for UFC over in the UK.
The Xbox Music feature is something that certainly intrigues me quite a bit. If it is like an MP3 store like Itunes for instance, that might dampen my enthusiasm. However, if the service is similar to that of a streaming music media base similar to Spotify, then that would be a very good move by Microsoft.
Nike's Kinect game doesn't give too much away in terms of a brief glimpse of the graphics which look rather similar to most other exercise games out on the Kinect. The claim that the Kinect can monitor your progress and measure how well you're doing is interesting if true. It also claims that your phone would be able to give you reminders to do workouts, but I'm not sure if this is only limited to Windows 8 phones or if Apple has that ability as well. While it might not be a popular thing to say; exercise is a very good thing and is most important in order to stay healthy. One could argue that it might be cheaper to just buy a gym membership, but that should be best left up to the consumer to decide.
The biggest surprise for me was when Microsoft showed their latest concept known as "Xbox Smartglass" which promotes connectivity between your phone, your console and your Windows 8 tablet. While what shown on the screen seemed to be a tech demo; it'll be most intriguing to see how much further they will go with this idea of connecting your various gadgets.
Unfortunately, I have my doubts on whether or not it'll be utilized like they've shown on their video. I do not have a smartphone nor do I have a tablet due to it seeming economically unfeasible to own so many doohickeys, so I do wonder if it'll be a success or not. One could argue that this might be Microsoft's attempt of copying Nintendo's plans for the Wii U, but I sincerely doubt that because of their different philosophies on how they conduct their business. A convergence of Windows tech seems to have been Microsoft's long-term goal all along and it would be ill-advised to rush in and accuse a company of borrowing ideas from other companies.
The Tomb Raider game looks like it has some great graphical fidelity and decent action-packed gameplay. While there is clearly some nods towards Uncharted due to the action-packed cinematic mentality that pervades throughout the demo; it'd be unsuitable to completely write it off as an Uncharted clone. I hope that more gameplay features will be released over the coming months and I pray that the game allows you a little more freedom to explore the island. Perhaps make it a little more of an open-world adventure or something like that.
Microsoft surprised me again with the release of three world premiere titles for the 360. Ascend looks like it has a turn-based combat system with some impressive flashes of crimson. The next game is called LocoCycle and features claims about a female cadet who is well schooled in assassination and broke the 4 minute mile record or something. At the end of the trailer, it shows a bike that looks like it fell out of Tron and had an Apple paint job. The next game is called Matter and has been directed by Verbinski who has directed Rango and Pirates of the Caribbean. I can't gather much from it except that it reminds me a lot of Portal/Halo and that you control a sphere. Something to watch out for.
Resident Evil 6 looks like it'll be taken a further departure from their survival horror roots, continuing onward in making their game more action-packed and packed with Q.T.Es. It still looks great, but it is mildly disconcerting for the survival horror fan.
After RE 6, a lassie walks on stage and starts promoting a game called Wrecketear for the Kinect. It seems to be a riff on the Angry Birds game and I don't particularly care for it either way.
It was nice of Matt Stone and Trey Parker to come out and promote the game that Obsidian have been working on. They must be feeling very happy with the outcome to be backing the game so publicly. Also, very nice gentle jab at Microsoft's connectivity agenda.
Dance Central 3 is announced and Usher comes out singing and dancing. No opinion on it.
COD BLOPS 2 finally gets shown and it looks like it's a very welcome direction for the franchise to go into with all that futuristic warfare and all the craziness that goes with it. You can say what you like about BLOPS but it does look very polished.
Anyways, it certainly was a far better conference than I ever imagined, but I sincerely doubt their competitors are losing sleep over it.