Microsoft Xbox 360 kicked off the 2011 E3 media circus by relaunching the Kinect. In a one hour and 28 minute developer and star studded exhibition Microsoft described how they are using the power of the xbox 360 to reinvent how you experience entertainment. All, with you as the controller.
So what is in store for Xbox owners over the next 12 months? Well unless you have the Kinect camera, not much! The ability to control everything with voice and motion expands your capabilities in all things entertainment. A new dashboard is all clean edges and scrolling panels with you in control of the screen slides by voice and gestures. Xbox Live with its partnership with Foxtel, allows Live TV streaming through your console, which you can control by simply speaking. Also YouTube is coming to the Xbox, as is UFC pay-per-view fights and the integration of Microsoft’s search engine; Bing. So searching your own music, movie’s and TV series should be just a spoken request to the Xbox. This all sounds great, but, I hear you say ‘but the bloody Kinect cant understand my Aussie slang?’. So Microsoft also announced the Kinect will be expanded to 13 new regions before the end of this year. I did however get a feeling that many of the key initiatives will never make it to Australia.
‘So how much of the Microsoft Keynote was Kinect related?’ Ah, another good question. Actually, most of it!
Most of the games that were discussed were Kinect “enhanced”. Big name games like EA’s Fifa, Tiger Woods and Madden. BioWares Mass Effect 3, which used voice commands to order your team into tactical positions within fights. Ubisoft showed how Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier uses the Kinect to customise weapons, motion during fighting to shoot, reload and scope. Other games that are now Kinect compatible include Fable: The Journey, Minecraft, Disneyland Adventures, Star Wars Kinect, and Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster as well as new releases to the sports series Kinect Sports with Season Two and a new Dance Central simply titled 2.
I must be honest that after about one hour of highly scripted Kinect topics I was getting kind of over it. I like playing games, some would say I love it. But I cant ever see myself playing a medieval sward fighting adventure game like Ryse for very long. I do loved some of the new tech that has discovered, like Fun Labs. With Fun Labs you can scan your full body and detail your face to create a perfect copy of you to be your avatar; capturing your skin tone, hair colour and even clothing to really show you your digital side.
On more than one accession we were reminded that gaming is still at the core of what the Xbox is and no Xbox 360 Keynote could ever be complete with out Epic’s Cliffy B. Cliffy come out and promptly introduced Ice-T to the stage, together they played a few minutes of Co-op Gears 3. This really looks great; however it was just more Gears, slight changes maybe but just the game we love. Other titles shown were Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider and Forza 4.
All and all, I was not really moved by anything I saw from Microsoft today. The Kinect is almost old technology, its been sitting on the self above my TV for over 6 months. I know it has plenty of potential but most of the excitement to use it is gone. I personally feel that Microsoft should have waited to this year to launch the thing and told me all the great stuff that it now has in the wings. I didn’t see a lot from the Keynote that I wasn’t already aware of. Even many of the core games have already been announced, so all we were shown was in game footage and some extra story snippets. I was dubious about what Microsoft was going to bring to the table this year and I guess I didn’t expect much, but I was still left feeling deflated by the end.
Check out the vid, its long and some parts are hard to sit through, but in the nature of good sportsmanship go check it out.