E3 2010: Microsoft press conference recap

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Date: Wednesday, June 16th, 2010, 08:57
Category: News

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The major press conferences are over, the facts are being discerned and there’s chatter as to what’s cool, what needs improvement and what we can’t wait for.

Per the mighty 1up.com, Microsoft’s press conference revealed that their camera/interaction technology, previously known as Project Natal, is now known as Kinect. The Kinect itself will arrive in time for the holiday season on November 4th and allow for video chat as well as voice commands. The Video Kinect feature will allow you to video chat with friends over Xbox Live or with people on Windows Live Messenger,

In an effort to get over a bulky image, Microsoft revealed a slim Xbox 360 design which also incorporates a 250GB hard drive and, at long last, will include an 802.11N wireless adapter. While the slim’s announcement wasn’t much of a surprise, given how heavily it had been rumored, what was surprising was that it’s shipping beginning today and will be available for US$299 later this week. Speaker Don Mattrick then pulled an Oprah move and announced that everyone at the press conference would be receiving a free slim Xbox 360 system.

While inclusion of Hulu on the Xbox was nowhere to be seen, almost certainly because Microsoft is still trying to work out the rights issues involved with it, ESPN filled the gap by being the newest service to be added to the Xbox Live suite. SportsCenter anchors Josh Elliott and Trey Wingo took to the stage to announce an ESPN video service that will allow Xbox Live Gold members to watch more than 3,500 live and on-demand sporting events over Xbox Live, with much of that content coming in HD. Among the sports it will carry are the NBA, MLB, college football, soccer, and college basketball. Once Kinect is released, users will be able to browse ESPN content with it, with Josh Elliott showing the ability to have it replay a clip over and over by simply saying, “Xbox: Replay.”

The bulk of the conference felt like it was a demonstration for the games you’ll be able to play with Kinect. Microsoft wasn’t especially specific when it came to announcing release dates and which titles will be available with Kinect on November 4th, but the most likely candidate is Kinect Sports. Among the featured activities in the game are bowling, track and field, soccer, javelin, long jump, table tennis, boxing and volleyball. Other games were demoed as well, including the EyePet competitor Kinectimals, an adorable game that had a young girl playing with a virtual tiger on stage.

After a demonstration of Call of Duty: Black Ops, which featured a segment from the single-player campaign where you hijack a helicopter and then blow up enemies (and bridges) with it, Microsoft announced an exclusivity agreement they’ve made with Activision involving the Call of Duty franchise. Future Call of Duty games, Black Ops included, will be released just as they normally would on all platforms, but just as with the first two map packs for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Xbox 360 gamers will get first dibs on all map packs for Call of Duty games in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

For the fans out there, Metal Gear Rising made its debut a year after it was announced at Microsoft’s E3 press conference in 2009. Described as a “sword action game unlike any you’ve seen before,” the trailer showed Raiden slice-and-dice through enemies and scenery alike with his sword. It was extremely violent — he sliced an enemy into multiple pieces in slow-motion while the enemy was suspended in the air — until the ending sequence, where we saw Raiden nicely carve up a watermelon.

Given that there will always be a drive for Halo, Halo: Reach looked incredible, Microsoft presenting the campaign mode for the very first time to the public. Though the demo looked slick, it didn’t look especially different from what we’ve come to expect from Halo. Then came the end of the trailer when we saw a Spartan enter a spaceship and engage in combat with another ship. It lasted just a few seconds, but the promise of space combat in the Reach campaign is exciting news.

Attendees got the first look at Gears of War 3′s 4-player campaign co-op, which appeared very much like Gears with female characters. Microsoft also offered an October 26th release date for Fable 3, which we’ll try to get a look at later.

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