I don’t think of it as a “Microsoft” conference. Sure the event is run by Microsoft, but the only thing that’s discussed is the 360. Microsoft doesn’t have a portable system, unless you count Windows Mobile. That’s what disappoints me about E3. Even when they took out the “booth babes” (which really only matter if you go there to see something other than video games, not that a little eye candy doesn’t help you refocus after staring at video monitors all day) what’s most missing is a press event for PC games, or even Mac for Mac users, but they have an entire expo all to themselves.

I decided to stick with IGN’s YouTube postings. While I was putting yesterday’s article together, I found that it was easier to work with the YouTube, plus G4 cut out like a half-hour of the Sony event, including stuff I really wanted to talk about most, 3D and Move. Also, I can put up part of the conference, describe my thoughts on that segment, and then move to the next segment, giving me less to remember between viewings, and it’s easier to screen capture. So my thanks to IGN for making their YouTube embeddable. So let’s get to the first segment and see what made the XBox event the second best.

Now none of the games in that segment are games I care to play. As I said yesterday in the Sony review, too dark and too violent. The third game, Gears of War is also very bloody, perhaps more so than Call of Duty. Really not my thing.

Look! A military FPS with colors!

On the other hand, unless Microsoft was just using better cables when recording the event (on this week’s Sessler’s Soapbox, G4’s Adam Sessler commented that they just use the video feed given them by the company, so if you saw the same event on G4, that’s why there is no difference from the IGN footage*), the colors are a lot sharper. While Sony seems to have making the big 3D push on their titles or versions, Microsoft seems to have been tweaking the sharpness of the graphics and more importantly improving the colors. Not only do Call of Duty and the trailer for Metal Gear Solid: Rising which, granted, may or may not have actual gameplay, actually HAVE a wider pallet of colors, but even the rather dark Gears of War are still rather strong. Even Little Big Planet 2 didn’t have colors that bright, and that’s a lighter game.

(*This makes the Konami conference all the more confusing. If you watch G4’s coverage, it looks like it was done by a fan using a regular camcorder. I’ve seen parts of the conference online, and it’s the same quality as the other conferences.)

So now we get into some of XBox’s big storytellers, like Halo, plus a new Fable game and XBox Live. Also, we get to see “Kinect” (insert Linkara’s “because poor literacy is kewl” line here), the artist formerly known as “Project: Natal”, in action.

Anybody not convinced the twins segment wasn’t scripted?

"Darn kids, get off my lawn!"

Let me jump back a bit to Halo: Reach first. That gets back to what I was saying about bright colors and sharp visuals. It’s a beautiful looking game. I once played the PC demo version of the first Halo game, and I’ve been curious to try it out. However, when I have the funds I either can’t find it or something happens to my DVD-Rom drive. I do see it now and then, but the next video game I’m getting is Transformers: War For Cybertron, and after that I’m going for Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Then we had our first look at Kinect. At this point, not all that impressed. The XBox Live controls are all we’ve seen, and while the hand movement sounds OK in theory, will the menu screen come up every time you move? When the G4 crew discussed Kinect during their coverage, Kevin Pierra made the point that if the microphone doesn’t pick you up right, even when you’re not telling it what to do may set something off if anyone has mentioned the XBox by name. Not to mention the fact that the old Attic HQ has an air conditioner that makes a bit of noise and might confuse the mike if I have it set up here.

The videophone seems pretty cool, though.

So how does it work for games? Let’s find out.

ESPN on XBox. If your into sports, I’m guessing your excited. Me? Meh. But did you notice? Like Kevin said, the host mentioned “poll” and “trivia” and Kinect responded, even though he wasn’t asking for either. If that wasn’t scripted then it could be an issue later.

You have to admit, the kid was cute to watch.

Kinectimals sounds fun, and the little girl made it look fun. However, let’s be honest with ourselves. While some of it was fun, or at least fun to watch, is a kid really going to be that willing to pretend to pet or be licked by an animal that isn’t there? Even pretend pets are only fun for so long. I suppose it’s the next best thing if you can’t have a pet of your own for some reason (medical or building rules), but I’m not sure it’s going to be that huge. Then again, I wouldn’t have called Nintendogs, either, so what do I know? Of course, the question we all most have is who decided to name a tiger cub “Skittles”? 🙂

I have to give them credit when it comes to Kinect Sports and Kinect Adventures, and not just because they realized, as the Wii Sports people did, that a sports game is a great way to show off motion gaming. Any tactile sensation you would need could easily be handled by hold a paddle or hitting a Nerf ball (one of the really foamy kinds that won’t break your TV) if you really need it. They have some good games on the disk. In Wii’s defense, you could just get the Active 2 machines (see Monday’s ramblings) and have the same result, but it’s the first all-positive thing I’ve seen out of Kinect. (Which I keep wanting to write as “Kinetic”, as it’s an actual spelling of a real word.)

Kinect Joy Ride and the Forza Motorsport game in the next segment, on the other hand, just don’t work for me. When I play a driving game, I want to have both a steering wheel and pedals controlling the car. (It’s why I like Cruisin’ World when I go to the amusement park arcade or bowling alley.) Just sitting there with the wheel alone (Wii) or maybe a pie plate if your holding anything (Kinect) just isn’t the same thing.

Of course all the games in this segment require a decent amount of gaming space and no complaining neighbors/parents downstairs. 😉 So what else can your new toy do?

Can I be a cynic and claim the true source of the “Red Ring of Death”? 😀 Seriously, though, the new 360 looks and sounds totally cool to people to don’t have one. But let’s get back to the games for a minute.

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved and Dance Central are probably the most convincing uses of Kinect, but I recall XBox owners (as well as the other “hardcore” favorite, PS3) making fun of WiiFit. I wonder if they’re still making those jokes, or saying “hey, cool”. The “hardcore” gamers are the ones insisting that “casual” titles like this are a blight on gaming, which is how they’ve attacked Nintendo over the past couple of years.

Dance Central and the Dancemasters game shown off at the Konami conference are what people (me included) probably thought Dance Dance Revolution would be, a combination dance instructor and rhythm game. Still shots can’t begin to show off either the game or the demonstrators, so I won’t bother, but that was indeed quite awesome. I wish I could dance like that.

Hey all you “hardcore” people who found it funny that people would be a motion controlled version of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed! Still thinking the same way? Really, using the Wiimote with Motion Plus wouldn’t be all that different, provided you grab a lightsaber toy or a flashlight or something for your Kinect version. And there are those superior colors again. Speaking of which, remember these from yesterday’s post?

Yeah, the Pulfrich 3D glasses. If you have a pair, I dare you to watch that unnamed Star Wars game footage again wearing them. Or the Halo: Reach footage, as I tried that, too, but definitely the Star Wars stuff. I swear it’s a better 3D experience that I got from the Sony conference, and with cheap paper glasses and a normal monitor (granted I up the video quality to 720P, the “HD” level, so that may be a factor). It was amazing.

In the end, I have to admit that this conference really does having me thinking about getting an XBox 360 and that the Kinect may end up better than I thought. However, I still want a Wii more, and I think you can guess who will take tomorrow’s #1 spot.

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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