I'll admit that at this point and time I find myself confused as to what it was I was watching when the Microsoft Conference began. It was as if it were showing that the 360 wanted to be everything at once. A streaming media player, Sports hub, Casual gaming console, hardcore gaming console. The sad thing, however is that the kid that tries to appeal to everyone always winds up losing friends in the process. Let's see how that worked out for Microsoft...
It seemed like the presentation started off strong, The first video out of the gate was Halo 4. Which seemed promising, Follow that with teasers for other games like Gears, COD Black Ops II and Forza and you have your typical MS conference offerings. However, that's where the offerings ended. This year instead of trying to shove Kinect down our collective throats (they seem to have gotten smarter about this, recently) Microsoft is inclined to make Kinect a little bit more appealing. The current year's Madden will now feature Kinect based play calls, of which they invited Hall of famer, Joe Montana (Genesis does!). I have to tip my hat to the developers who included this option, because it does bring the players further into the game, but the question is how many people who play madden know how to call plays?
In addition to Madden, Microsoft will be partnering with Nike to create a more advanced training program that is geared towards strengthening athletes. A novel idea, but still this only appeals to a small niche of gamers and not the entire populace. there were a few other games revealed (Loco Cycle,Ascend new gods, and the portal-looking Matter) But those are still in development and were only teased. A South Park themed game was revealed, with Matt and Trey in tow, but that was only briefly teased as well, and is still being worked on. The only other things of note were the third party titles Resident Evil 6, and Tomb Raider, which both feature day one DLC exclusively for 360.
So what did MS show for a hefty chunk of their conference? Essentially Apps. Now I can watch Netflix, Crackle, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and other streaming players on 360, I can listen to music via the streaming music player service, I can also watch all the sports movies and television shows (Nick) and video websites ( You Tube and Machinima) I want via Bing vocal search.
The real question going through my head as I'm watching this, of course is; but what games am I going to play? So far I've counted six and four teasers (This isn't counting the multiplatform titles) That's damn depressing. People wanted a game console, and the further we get into the next generation we seem to be noticing that they're getting an E machines with an epic video card and super ram upgrade.If that's what gamers want (I think have an idea that isn't what they want) then that's fine.
The biggest surprise was, besides the five minute long Usher dancing routine done in lieu of showing any playable footage of Dance Central 3, was the unveiling of Xbox Smart Glass. I'm on the fence about what exactly MS is trying to do, whether it be usurp the Wii U's hype by using existing technology (I.E. Tablets and smartphones with gaming consoles) Or to just push for something more connected and appealing to the average technophile. Personally, I didn't really care for the idea, and it seems like another half-hearted means of jerry-rigging things together to steal Nintendo's thunder. While I'm sure I'll be covering Smart Glass in more detail in a near future post, I'm still fighting the notion that this was the exact intention.
As it stands, Microsoft seems to be on the bottom end of the "best of E3" award handouts. My next post will cover what Sony is offering.