Wow, what can I say? My second year watching E3 live, and my first one that I’m actually blogging through, and the opening day was… Less than what I had expected personally. Here’s some of my highlights from the Microsoft, EA and Ubisoft Press Briefings, at Day 1 of the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2010.
Microsoft opened the day’s events with the news that their Project Natal technology was now going under the new name of Kinect. A move I personally don’t like, as it had been called Natal on national TV in America a few times, and seems like an idiot move to change the name now when loads are familiar woith the original. Anyway, a few games for it were shown, like Kinect Adventure, Kinect Sports, Kinect Joyride (notice the pattern here?) and Kinectimals. All of which looked and felt pretty much like Nintendo’s main line of Wii games. More Kinect games will be mentioned later as they come up.
Kinect’s hands free and voice controlled functionality was also showcased, along with new features like watching movies together during a Windows Live Call, and ESPN interactive, which gives you interactive stats and a fans forum during live sports broadcasts. It’s likely Microsoft will also be doing a similar system with Sky Sports for the UK and Ireland, though nothing is set in stone at this time.
A few new games came up during Microsoft’s showcase, including Call of Duty: Black Ops, Gears of War 3, Fable 3, an all-new IP from Crytek called Codename: Kingdoms, an as-yet-un-named Star Wars game using Kinect, and a new one from Rock Band makers Harmonix, Dance Central powered by Kinect. Ubisoft also sampled a fitness based game on Kinect as well, but more on that in their conference later.
EA’s press event opened with the first reveal of Criterion Games’ first effort in the Need For Speed franchise: a return to Hot Pursuit, flashing plenty of supercars, and supercars in police variants (including a Bugatti Veyron!). Easily my pick of the day’s events, a seemingly return to form for a series I once loved but went downhill fast this generation. They also teased a new Vietnam expansion for Battlefield: Bad Company 2, as well as showed off an early multiplayer build of the Medal of Honor return.
They also talked a bit about the EA Gun Club, membership of which could net you cross-game unlocks. The first one is the M24 Sniper Rifle, unlockable in Medal of Honour upon being a VIP Member of Bad Company (i.e. Buying the game new, probably part of the Project $10 scheme), and pre-orderers of Medal of Honour who already have Battlefield new will also have first option and access to the early Beta testing stages that go live on Thursday.
A new feature called EA Sports Live Broadcast was also unveiled, and seems so far to be heavily focused on being core to the MMA game. It works akin to your Virtual Pro, only you can upload smack-talk videos to the web, and it works similar to the eFeds of the wrestling fan communities of sorts. Real commentators can be called in to your matches from time to time too, adding to the experience.
Games showcased were NFS: Hot Pursuit, Dead Space 2, Medal of Honor, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – Vietnam Expansion, EA MMA, EA Active 2, Madden NFL 11, The Sims 3 (it’s out already? WHY???), Crysis 2 in 3D, Bulletstorm, and Star Wars MMO The Old Republic. Brief name-drops were also given to Jason West, Frank Zampella and Ted Price as EA Partners, although, understandably, nothing new was shown.
Ubisoft opened their show with Child of Eden, a Kinect/Move spiritual successor of 2001 game Rez. It’s easily one of the best looking games I’ve seen that uses the Kinect so far. They followed this up with Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, where.. well, I won’t spoil the trailer for you, you’ll just have to watch it to find out, but this will be the first in the series to feature multiplayer! This was almost matched in awesomeness by their next reveal: Shaun White Skateboarding. Shaun White himself was there to talk a little bit about the game, which allows you to sculpt the world to your liking and make your own on-the-fly skate lines. The premise looks awesome, and it looks like the crazy Tony Hawk kinda games I liked, only better. Certainly one to watch since Ride totally bombed and Skate’s a bit too serious of a game for my liking. It’s like what a Jet Set Radio sequel would have looked like, only with less funky cel-shading and more of that awesome carrot-top.
This was followed by what many would seem like moments of madness. Laser tag. I kid you not. Wearable sensors, and laser tag pistols that can sync to your console (which ones it’s going to support remain unspecified) so it can keep track of your stats. Seems like a bad gimmick to me, but time will tell. The next game was called Innergy, a game about.. breathing.. I am not joking. You breathe in and out in time with the path on-screen and try to keep it centred and keep yourself calm while some sort of vitality sensor is attached to your finger. Yeah, serious game.
Following this, was a pretty poor and cheesy trailer for Kinect Motion Sports, mentioned briefly during Microsoft’s show, and Your Shape, Fitness Evolved, a duplicate demo from Microsoft’s show. It looks well, but again, for people watching E3 live, is this the sort of stuff we want to be seeing? Fitness games and laser tag? I certainly think not.
They get back to some proper games soon enough with a trailer for Raving Rabbids – Travel In Time for the Wii, and what I can only describe as an amazing trailer for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Following this up was Driver: San Francisco, which looks like a brilliant reboot so far, though I’m not sure about the ability so suddenly planeshift to another car mid-chase. Seems a bit..?
Ubisoft president Yves Guillemot closed the show after this, revealing 4 last games, Project Dust, which looks a little bit lik Populous, a new 2D Rayman game that doesn’t involve Rabbids, ManiaPlanet, which expands on developer Nadeo’s TrackMania games that had fully customisation. TrackMania will become a part of ManiaPlanet, which will now incorporate ShootMania (customisable FPS games, and QuestMania, customised RPG games. Betas for these games will start in late 2010/early 2011 for Track and ShootMania respectively, with no known date given for QuestMania as of yet. The show closed with a dance troupe dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”, with a splash screen featuring the King of Pop himself in the background. One can only assume this will be a Kinect/Wii/Move dancing game.