Microsoft were the first to bat at this year's E3 videogame expo, before its official Tuesday opening (following Nintendo and Sony's own presentations), with both the bacchanalia of Sunday night's Cirque du Soleil-headlined event to reveal the final form of its motion-control system now known as Kinect, and with this morning's press conference to show what the next year has in store for their flagship Xbox 360. Here's a quick rundown of what we learned:
1.) Microsoft are releasing a new, slimmer Xbox 360 model this week.
The new model, simply being referred to by Microsoft as The New Xbox 360, will be sold at the same $299 pricepoint as the current Xbox 360 Elite, but will increase the hard drive size from 120 to 250 gigs, and come standard with a built-in wi-fi adapter.
2.) Microsoft are banking on motion-interface Kinect to make the Xbox 360 a new "family console" choice.
Previously known as Natal, Kinect is a motorized camera and motion sensing bar that adds a controller-free gestural interface to the Xbox 360, due for release in North America on November 4th for a yet-unannounced price. On the console level, Kinect will add both voice and virtual touch controls to the 360's interface, as well as face recognition -- selecting your profile amongst the many on your console was demonstrated by simply facing the camera and waving.
Their hope, it seems, is to further expand the role and the image of the 360 as a "hardcore" game console, make it a necessary center-point of the living room by adding more content partners like ESPN (no sign of the previously much-rumored Hulu), and become a true rival to Nintendo's all-ages-marketed Wii, though:
3.) Microsoft do owe at least a small debt to Nintendo's foundational family lineup.
The initial lineup of software for Kinect will sound vaguely familiar: bowling, boxing and track and field events in Kinect Sports
, and the motion-controlled mini-games in Kinect Adventure
all follow closely in the footsteps of Wii Sports/Resort
and Wii Fit
, a virtual jungle-cat pet sim developed by Elite
creators Frontier, contains more than a few traces of the paws-on-the-screen virtual affection of Nintendogs
(though, having brought a child on stage to show off its pre-teen appeal, it did come off as the most honest and genuinely affecting demo of the entire presentation).
Other games demonstrated included Ubisoft fitness package Your Shape
, racing games both casual and core with Kinect Joy Ride
, and Dance Central
-- a full-body dance-battle game from Rock Band
creators Harmonix (no strangers to dance games, having previously added Dance Dance Revolution
steps to Konami's Karaoke Revolution Party
), set to feature music by Lady Gaga and M.I.A.
4.) Microsoft want you to know that despite all this they haven't given up on the "core" gamer.
Having rested much of their E3 presence on pushing the 360 as a mainstream device, Microsoft spent the rest of the presentation on triple-A titles: new Gears of War, Call of Duty, Halo
sequels, and Metal Gear Rising
, Konami's sword-play focused side-story that provided the only true moment of levity to the lineup, as franchise star Raiden carefully sliced and diced a watermelon with the same sword he'd previously used to cut a van (and numerous soldiers) in two.
Not so much as a word came on Xbox Live Arcade or Indies, nor whether the latter will have access to the Kinect SDK to come up with their own gestural games, though presumably we'll see much more of that on the show floor when the E3 expo properly opens tomorrow.
Nintendo’s Switch is a touchscreen tablet with removable physical controls that turn it into a traditional handheld game console. It comes with a chunky dock to hook it up to a TV set for high-definition couch action; also announced is a traditional wireless gamepad to match the squared-off dark gray design: it’s what disassembles to […]
The developers behind the hotly anticipated Shadow Warrior 2 have gone on record explaining why they didn’t add DRM to their new title: they themselves hate DRM, and understand that DRM disproportionately inconveniences legit customers, not pirates who play cracked versions without DRM.
Modal VR, the new stealth startup co-founded by Atari and Chuck E. Cheese creator, has opened the doors a crack. According to Bushnell, their portable VR system is built for business applications (even though the demo video shows, you guessed it, a game). “We want to help enterprises solve problems by looking at them from […]
Geek Fuel is a subscription delivery service that caters to those of us that love comics, gaming, and general geek culture. Every month, Geek Fuel will assemble a box of goodies with a value of $50 or over. The specific items are a mystery, but you’ll always get an exclusive t-shirt not found anywhere else, a full […]
If you like to DIY and you like helicopters, you’re going to really love the Flexbot Hexacopter Kit. This copter blows traditional models out of the water: it includes everything you need to actually build your own hexacopter, and then pilot it like a pro, too.The construction is complicated enough to give you a challenge, […]
This week’s top deals from the Boing Boing Store range from lobster to wine to desk organization. 1. Get Maine Lobster (50% Off)With these discounted packages from Get Maine Lobster, you can experience the sweet, fresh flavor of world-renowned Maine lobster right at your own dinner table. There are four options to choose from, each at […]