I was perhaps the only one of the staff that was genuinely excited about Project Natal, now named Kinect, and the Microsoft press conference in general. I thought Microsoft would not make the same “mistakes” as Nintendo when it came to representing the “hardcore” audience. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with Nintendo’s recent approach to casual games, it would have been a breath of fresh air to see Microsoft take gaming to the next level. Instead Microsoft felt as if they were behind the curve showing obvious Wii rip-offs and wave after wave of first person shooters that looked like they blended together.
Let’s start with the shooters. Microsoft not only showed a trailer for Modern Warfare BlackOps, they then took about 5 minutes to demo it. We’ve seen Modern Warfare before. In fact, we’ve seen it every year for the past 3 years and it is no longer exciting. Yes, the game will be bonkers, but please I rather you don’t shove it down my throat for the 3rd year in a row thanks. The game was followed by Gears of War 3 and Halo Reach, more first person shooters. Yay! I can hardly contain my excitement.
The only redeeming showing was Konami’s Metal Gear Solid Rising Sword Fighting and Fable 3. Both of these games looked phenomenal. Word on the street is that Metal Gear Solid Rising Sword was for Kinect, but they didn’t actual show anyone playing on stage. I would have rather seen this live than any of the other first person shooters they demoed.
So, let’s talk about Kinect. I felt I was looking at Nintendo’s press conference four years ago. Microsoft went as far as to use the device’s brand name as part of their title as Nintendo is known to do. The Wii Sports equivalent is Kinect Sports. What’s next Kinect Sports Resort in a couple of years? The Kinect brand games (Kinect Adventures, Kinectimals, Kinect Your Mom) seem like fun distractions, but we had these distractions four years ago. I don’t see anyone getting excited all over again for these kind of experiences.
Not surprisingly it was the third party games that showed some potential for the device. Dance Central from Harmonix showcased just how accurate and fast Kinect is. The device was able to keep up with some complex choreography during the presentation. And the game itself seems to have the same polish and depth that Rock Band has on the music genre. Your Shape: Fitness Evolved from Ubisoft featured a sweet body scan feature in the game and floating menus that generated around the onscreen persona dynamically. This gave us a brief glimpse at what some talented developers can do with the technology. But that’s just it. There was absolutely nothing breath taking and exciting in traditional genres like RPGs, adventure games, fighting games or even racing games. And speaking of racing games, if Forza 3’s idea of innovation is being able to touch a car in 3D or hold up your hands and drive using a make believe wheel, heaven save us from Kinect.
Wrecktify brought out a great point in our Day 1 E3 2010 wrap up podcast last night: Where were the Japanese developers? Aside from a quick showing from Konami the other heavy weights did not even get a mention at this year’s E3. It would have been nice to see some games from Capcom or SquareEnix making the rounds during the conference.
Lastly, the XBOX 360 got a face lift and redesign. The new system is slick as all hell and shipping this week. However, the $299 price point at this point seems insane when you take into account that the Kinect is rumored to be another $150 dollars. You are looking at around $450 dollars when it is all said and done. Thanks, but no thanks.
Overall I give Microsoft a C.