E3: Microsoft Briefing

Our apologies for not getting these articles up sooner. Our hotel’s WiFi was absolutely horrible and we couldn’t get any pictures up, let alone video. With that said, we did indeed manage to get tons of photos and video interviews for you to go up in the coming hours leading up to our next major event: the MuchMusic Video awards. So sit back, relax, and start reading, because here we go!

E3 kicked off with the Project Natal Experience, as Microsoft dubbed it. The Sunday night event took place at the Galen Center on the USC Campus in downtown Los Angeles. I will be honest and say that the only good thing that came out of that event was a Microsoft-branded bottle of water. Beyond that, it was a yawn fest. It was also a “technology-free event” which meant no cameras were permitted, so there isn’t much to show you. Consider yourself lucky.

The first of the big three press conferences to take place was Microsoft. They announced Natal’s name to be Kinect, which I admit, is growing on me. They didn’t have anything to show that blew anyone away, however. They had their staples: Halo Reach, Gears of War, Metal Gear Solid Rising, but these were all titles that we knew about. The true meat of their briefing was the new Kinect material which, after a while, started to look like some up-res’d Wii games from 2006. Microsoft is clearly going after more of a younger audience with this stuff, but there is a lot of interest from developers and publishers to make more than just mini party games. That’s not to say that you’ll see Gears of War 3 with Kinect support, but casual games like Dance Central make pretty great use of the technology and it seems to be pretty precise.

The other big thing about Kinect is its precision in and of itself. Ubisoft’s title “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved” was probably the coolest technology demo I’ve ever seen. I had the chance to take it for a spin, and it really is precise. The game apparently tracks 128 points on your body to accurately calculate your height, shoulder span, leg length, and hip line. It’s voodoo magic, I’m convinced, but if we get to use it for gaming, that doesn’t matter to me! Take a look at this video to see if you’re blown away too. Just skip to the 1:40 mark.

The other uses for Kinect were pretty cool, but with not much on the show floor, I wonder if this is going to get enough traction to launch in November with the fanfare they expect. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll have Kinect in the Eggplante office on day one, if not sooner, but it needs to be said that I expected a bit more serious uses for the technology and a lot more hands-on demo time of the units.

Take a look at our (limited) photos of the Microsoft experience. We unfortunately weren’t at the briefing but rather a satellite viewing instead, but we’ll have some great video up of everything very soon!