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E3: The Press Conference Notes, Day 1


Nerdist has some of our folks wandering the halls of the E3 show in Los Angeles this week.  While they do that, our video game maven Patrick did some of the dirty work of monitoring E3 press conferences to see what’s new; here’s his report from Monday’s pressers:

It’s E3 time. The conference that gets Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony all fired up and ready to talk about what to expect this year. I’ll be doing my best to do a daily round up of the day’s events. Sleep is for the weak*.

First off was the wondrous Microsoft conference. Sorry, did I write Microsoft? I meant Kinect. Of the 90 minutes of conference, about 15 minutes was non-Kinect. If you don’t have one, there’s not a lot here that’s going to interest you.

It began with a live demo of Modern Warfare 3, which is interesting to say the least. I didn’t know it was possible to make the same game for the third time. I’ve never been a fan of the most recent CODs, mostly because of how they seem to be the same game every time, except the storyline gets more batshit insane. I don’t know what the story is this time, except that World War 3 has broken out, but I’m hoping beyond hope that it isn’t the same shambling mess of a plot that MW2 was.

Speaking of games I don’t understand and don’t like, Gears Of War 3 was shown. With Ice-T! On stage! It’s almost like the game was about a bunch of buffed up men with a lot of sexual tension! If I were a decent person, I’d look at it objectively but I don’t see a difference between any of the Gears of War series at all.

Let’s do the rest of the non-Kinect games. The announcement of a new Tomb Raider was a while ago, and I’ve been enjoying the last few very much so. This new one focuses on Ms. Croft before she became a fully fledged Tomb Raider. There’s a quick demo which did take my breath away, especially how terrified Lara is. I’m looking forward to this more than I thought I would.

So the next non-Kinect game is… oh. There isn’t one. That’s right, Microsoft decided to show 3 non-Kinect games. Granted, Mass Effect 3 (which EA do a better job at showing) is there but they use it to show off what Kinect can do. I’m always dubious about voice recognition, but if it works I can see ME3 being fascinating.

What mostly wound me up was Ubisoft coming on and saying that every future Tom Clancy game is going to have Kinect support. It reminds me of those wonderful days where you actually use a controller to do things. Fair play to Microsoft, there’s a lot of interesting things available for Kinect, but it seemed to be just a crutch.

The most interesting thing seems to be Kinect Fun Labs, where you can use the Kinect to take 3D pictures, create an avatar of you exactly and also create digital copies of physical objects. I’ll be honest, all of them looked like fun but the cynic in me just thinks “Didn’t the DSi do that first?”.

There are 2 family games coming out in the next few months – Sesame Street and Kinect Disneyland – both of which were shown absolutely abysmally. I’m looking forward for the day when the E3 people realise that you shouldn’t use children on stage. It just seems fake and overacted, especially the part where the kid says something and repeats it because he didn’t think anyone heard him over the older man’s forced laughter.

Speaking of fake, Kinect Sports: Season 2 isn’t finished yet. I don’t know why, but it felt like what was going on was scripted and the Football duo were really unfunny. In a conference like this, you have people who work on their games and you should just let them talk. If you script them, it’ll look and sound wrong because they aren’t actors.

Other things of note is how they’re including Live TV on Xbox Home, and you can use the Kinect to search Bing if you’re of that persuasion. The Kinect appears to be very good at voice recognition, especially when it’s searching for words that aren’t keywords. It could be endless fun. If I had a Kinect I’d probably spend a fair bit of time messing with it. “Xbox Bing Google” would be my first port of call.

There wasn’t much else of note. A trailer for a game in Rome called Ryse with Kinect Swordfighting was announced, Tom Clancy’s Future Soldier showed how you can use the Kinect to customise weaponry and a HD version of Halo 1 and Halo 4 were both announced. All in all, Microsoft are trying to get the most out of Kinect, and it bugged me that they didn’t talk about Windows 8 at all. My PC bias is a well known one, but I can’t help but think that if they’re serious about breaking into the PC they need to be talking about it at their biggest conference.

To EA! Mass Effect 3 was shown a bit more, with a demo of combat with one of those old fashioned controllers. If you thought that you were watching a film, then you could be forgiven. To put it bluntly, I’m worried that it’s going to be a Sci-Fi film with a bit of interactivity. Who knows, maybe I’m wrong, and I hope I am.

Mr. EA man also made a fun joke about the fact that it’s on a small stage with the developers doing the talking. Granted, you can see him reading the autocue, but if the developers are talking and they’ve written their own speeches, it’s going to turn out good.

A new Need For Speed gets an unveiling, which is a race from San Francisco to New York. I haven’t ever kept up with the NFS series, mostly because it takes itself with a medium of seriousness, as opposed to the glorious Burnout where it says, “Oh hi, I noticed you crashed. Have a gamemode!”. The live demo is interesting, mostly because he screws up the turn a few times and doesn’t react.

We’re also given the opportunity to see the non-car sections of the game, which turn out to be quick time events. I’m kind of disappointed by it because of how much they’d hyped it, and it turned out to be… dull. There seems to be a lot of scripted events in this race as well, so it could be infuriating if you’re just after a simple series of races.

If you’re at a conference, then you should know that the best way to get a cheer is to finish one section and play the Star Wars theme. If you’ve been following Bioware, then you should know that they’re making a Star Wars MMO, and they’re being immensely ambitious (every agent being voice acted and things like that). The trailer that he shows seems to be the original trailer with a couple of extra bits, but I have to say I’m excited. It’s Bioware, and they know how to make a game world seem alive.

Since we’re working with EA, we’re stuck with hearing about EA Sports. Fifa has the same thing as COD to me: I just don’t understand why you would buy the same game with some changes, though I hear the past few iterations had some interesting additions. My main issue is that you pay for a new incremental update, and they could just release a new one every 2 years and give a team DLC every year or something. The new social idea looks interesting. The Football Club linking you to the team you support and giving you challenges to avenge your team’s real world defeat looks amazing.

Hey look, a bunch of American Football stars. That joke about the celebrities is a bit dumb, now, isn’t it EA. Madden 12 gets an endorsement from Ray Lewis, Peyton Hillis and Clay Matthews. Seeing as I’m a filthy Brit, I don’t get Eggball, but, hey, it obviously sells.

And there appears to have been a big demand for a new SSX. If you can do what the trailer does (and trust me, I’m laughing as hard as you are) it’d be fascinating to play. There’s great things about avoiding avalanches by jumping and swinging off a helicopter. I’d be surprised if said jump isn’t scripted, but if it isn’t then they could do good.

Next mentioned is The Sims Social. I refuse to discuss it further beyond the joke that they make about it not being based on agriculture.

When I mentioned before about letting developers talk, I meant it for the 38 Studios’s CEO Curt Schilling (apparently he used to be some pitcher for a team in Boston, but probably not).  (Editor’s note: Yes.  And for Philadelphia, Houston, and Arizona, too.  Google “bloody sock”) It’s clear that he’s excited about the first chance to talk about his game. Reckoning appears to be an open world fantasy game, with the tag “A hero is reborn to find his killer”. Revenge is the best motivation. Combat looks rather fluid as well which is one of the things I want games to fix.

Next up is OverStrike, which isn’t going to be a PS3 exclusive like Insomniac usually do. It reminded me of X Squad, which was a game where you were in charge of a team of 4 just like this. It looks rather interesting, if a bit clichéd. It looks like The A Team in the future, but with 4 members who are rather crazy and have freaky gadgets.

Finally we get to see Battlefield 3, which I notice is demoed on a PC. They talk an awful lot about the tech, and how realistic it is, but I’m not sure that it’s interesting. I can’t work out if it’s a multiplayer or single-player though, and the demo looks boring. Maybe it plays better than watching someone play. It’s just you in a tank, aimlessly firing at other tanks.

If we’re honest, EA put on a much better show than Microsoft. Focusing on a nice diverge range of games, and not making me type Kinect every 3 seconds means that I’m not wanting to kill you.

Coming next, Sony and Ubisoft.

*And yes, I am weak. I keep falling asleep onto my keosdfhi hbzshsssssssss

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  1. Patrick Rose says:

    I noticed a lot less Move stuff for Sony (I’ve caught up with Sony but I was at a session last night), since they were focused on Vita which looks good for my money.

    Gabe: Not guilty, but I wish I was.

  2. Robin Burks says:

    Sony put a lot of emphasis on Move, as well, and for some reason, I found that a lot more annoying that Microsoft’s focus on Kinect. I’ve always thought that Kinect was a cool piece of technology, though, and I don’t think we’ve seen all of its capabilities yet. I was pretty impressed with the weapons demo for one of the games (I forget which – a war game, which I’m not into. LOL) using the Kinect.

  3. Gabe Fenton says:

    “Oh hi, I noticed you crashed. Have a gamemode!”

    Did you come up with that? I think it’s absolutely brilliant.

  4. Rich Conner says:

    I for one was let down by Microsoft’s conference, simply because it looked like they were trying to force the motion issue. One of the things I appreciate with Sony & Microsoft is that they can still produce polished non-motion games. I watch E3 to see those, but understand they have to show everything. I am extremely let down by the focus on motion only by Microsoft.

  5. Patrick Rose says:

    I forgot about it, and was also rather unimpressed. Fable on Rails isn’t that impressive in my opinion.

  6. Ethan Foss says:

    What about the Fable game that used the Kinect?

  7. Robin Burks says:

    I agree that Microsoft’s conference this year was less than impressive, especially as compared to previous years. I think the issue for me this year is that almost everything from all of the press conferences is something I’d read about weeks ago. There aren’t a lot of huge surprises. However, when you get to looking at the Sony show, the new handheld they have is pretty impressive.

    I still want a Kinect, though, mostly because of Fable: The Journey. When they first demo’d the Kinect a few years ago (then it was Project Natal), that’s the first game that came to mind that I’d like to play like that. I really liked the guy who was spellcasting using arm movements. It fulfills my inner fantasy of wanting to be a wizard. 😛