The first big moments of the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) came via Microsoft‘s massive press event, Xbox 360: The Future Revealed, from inside the Los Angeles Convention Center, decked to the ceiling with swooping sets and glowing the trademark Xbox green. Last year was the biggest in Xbox history, so what exactly does the future hold for Xbox 360? Expect Kinect integration and advancement across the entire Xbox brand, as well as plenty of blockbuster titles that are now Xbox exclusive. Below is a comprehensive rundown of the entire press event held earlier today. Stay clicked on PanelsOnPages.com for all of your E3 2011 news!
Microsoft brought out the big guns early, literally and figuratively, with a 10-minute demo of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. There’s something heartwarming about a massive event like this being tripped up (albeit briefly) by on on-screen error message prompting the on-stage gamer to “Reconnect Controller”. Once the demo was underway, I felt the pain of many long-suffering gamer girlfriends (or in my case, boyfriends) that must sit quietly and watch someone else plays a video game. The extended preview of the next installment of the popular shoot’em up franchise, available November 8th, began as an under-sea adventure, then, once breaking the surface, gave glimpse of a decimated metropolis. The player was then able to pilot a gas-powered raft complete with sea-to-sea firepower. It’s official, in Modern Warfare 3, you will be on a boat–don’t you ever forget. Later in the show, it was announced that DLC for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will be available on Xbox 360 before any other platform (suck it, Sony.)
The next demo featured the newly Xbox-exclusive Tomb Raider franchise reboot. The gameplay shown was a seamless mix between third-person and cinematic cut-scene play, ala the old Dragon’s Lair series. The in-game visuals were easily some of the most impressive shown of the entire event, and for those Lara Croft fans that are Playstation loyalists, you might want to consider saving up some dollars for an Xbox come the new installment’s 2013 release.
The incorporation of Kinect was a recurring theme throughout the event, and EA Sports announced that it plans to feature at least four Kinect-capable titles in the near future, including Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer, and one to be revealed later. Bioware previewed Mass Effect 3 for Xbox and Kinect, utilizing the voice recognition feature to choose your character’s path and call audibles in battle.
The most impressive technological breakthrough via the Xbox Kinect will be courtesy of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and the innovative Gun Smith feature. Remember those totally Bendis motion-activated computers from Minority Report? What about the sweet JARVIS technology from Iron Man, wherein Tony Stark had the ability to view his muscle car’s engine via a virtual reality “exploded-view“? Gun Smith combines those two concepts, and allows the player to customize, randomize, and view in detail their choice of battle weaponry. Then, take your boomstick out onto the shooting range, and utilizing the Kinect motion controls, blast those practice targets into smithereens.
Xbox Live, always touted as one of the greatest reasons to chose Xbox 360 over the Playstation 3 or Nintendo Wii, will continue to grow and assimilate, as it was announced that YouTube will finally be arriving on the service, as well as search engine Bing. “You say it, Xbox finds it.” Furthermore, Xbox Live will debut Xbox Live TV, allowing users to watch network, cable, and local programming via their console connection. All of these features will integrate Kinect voice recognition, allowing users to navigate their Xbox Live media experience without the use of a hands-on controller. Microsoft touts, thanks to the new feature integration, and the debut of Xbox Live TV, that, “TV is more amazing when you are the controller.”
Details were slim on a new partnership between Xbox Live and mixed-martial-arts juggernaut, UFC, but president Dana White introduced a preview of what one could assume is Xbox Live capability to view UFC Pay-Per-View events, interact with other Xbox Live users, and become immersed in the UFC experience like never before seen.
Hip-hip legend and voice actor Ice-T helped demo the Xbox exclusive Gears of War 3, considered, “…the best and most polished Gears game we have made to date.” T also announced that he would be reuniting with rap-metal pioneers Body Count to record a track exclusively for Gears‘ “Horde Mode”.
As the press event continued on, if one were to drink every time someone said Kinect, you’d be alcohol-poisoned five Ernest Hemingways worth. Another Xbox exclusive, FORZA Motorsport 4, releasing October 11th, will incorporate the Kinect in a big way, seemingly with a similar “exploded view” functionality as Ghost Recon‘s Gun Smith feature. Little to no introduction or explanation was given for the sneak peak at Ryse, but from the looks of things, Kinect users will be able to march on Ancient Rome and spill the guts of their enemies via a swing at their Kinect sensor. Fable: The Journey previewed the Kinect ability to pilot a horse-drawn carriage and shoot old-school energy blasts not seen since the likes of Ken and Ryu. Cult favorite Minecraft will debut as a console game exclusively on Xbox and, you guessed it, totally primed and ready for Kinect. Kinect Sports: Season 2 also debuted, and creators claimed “playing sports in video games is now more realistic than ever.” Dance Central 2 will accommodate simultaneous, multi-player dancing via Kinect, and will debut with more songs than any other dance game on the market.
Three huge licenses will also be throwing their hat into the Kinect ring. Star Wars Kinect will allow gamers to wield their lightsabers and Force powers more interactively than any Star Wars game prior, and the preview featured a heck of a lot of sweet Rancor action (mounting said Rancor via Kinect is not advised). Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster will bring toddlers to the forefront of the Kinect revolution, teaching letters, numbers, manners and teamwork, all the while getting them off of their chubby little butts. And then there is Disneyland Adventures, a fully immersive Kinect experience that allows the player to tour the entire Disneyland park, create and share your own souvenirs, and features mini-games showcasing the various rides and attractions like Peter Pan’s Flight and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Then, there’s Kinect Fun Labs, launching today. Fun Labs allows Xbox users to create and avatar that looks just like you, as well as allowing for Object Capture, using the Kinect’s camera tech, and Finger Tracking which allows for the creation of 3D Xbox art.
Lastly, Microsoft brought out the big guns, what brought them to the dance: Halo. First, the original Halo adventure will be remastered, enhanced, and updated for Xbox 360 and functional for Xbox Live with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, to be released November 11, 2011, featuring seven of the greatest multiplayer maps of all time. To close the show, Microsoft debuted the trailer for Halo 4, directed by Tron‘s Joseph Kosinski, which will be the beginning of a new Halo trilogy, and will hit consoles in the 2012 holiday season.
In summation, most of the Xbox eggs are in the Kinect basket for the foreseeable future, and will most likely carry over into the next generation Xbox console. Microsoft will also be counting on its brand-exclusives and untouchable online and media experience courtesy of Xbox Live. Sony is really going to have to step up their game.
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