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It’s a little late, but I’ve got all of the tantalizing news from Microsoft’s awful E3 press conference right here in this post, complete with a brief, unedited podcast roundup (starring both me and Elliot). Well, let’s get on with the show.
It’s hard to imagine that it’s been a full year since we first heard about Microsoft’s Project Natal, but today we were given a glimpse into a more fully-featured version of the revolutionary, controller-free Xbox 360 interface, now renamed “Kinect,” presumably to tie into Microsoft’s new phone, the Kin. The project has now become a slightly new interface for the Xbox 360, complete with voice commands and hand gesture-controlled menus. Kinect will launch worldwide this fall, specifically in North America on November 4, 2010.
Granted, most of the games shown at the conference seemed to simply be clones of Wii games, including a sports pack, a cart racer, and even the Wii Fit-esque Your Shape: Fitness Evolved from Ubisoft. Meanwhile, Microsoft also showed off non-game features (actually, a lot of them) that take advantage of the microphone and camera in Kinect. These include a video chat application (demoed by the MOST AWKWARD engineer and her twin sister), new interfaces for interacting with video and music content, and an ESPN application featuring videos of sporting events. [[EDIT: Among some of the third-party games available for the new peripheral are a new Forza racing game (available in 2011) and an MTV Games-produced, Harmonix-developed dancing game.]]
Oh yeah, there were some games there too. We saw a previously-released trailer for Activision and Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops, coupled with an announcement that Microsoft has signed an “exclusive, multi-year agreement with Activision” that will result in all Call of Duty games, map packs, and expansions releasing first on the Xbox 360 through 2012. [[EDIT: Of course, Halo: Reach was there, with a video of its single-player campaign (now with GIRL Spartans!).]] Cliff Bleszinski, also known as “CliffyB,” got up on the stage early on to show off Gears of War 3 (spoiler: it’s more Gears of War) and Hideo Kojima showed off one of the highlights of the conference: a new trailer for the Raiden-centric game Metal Gear Solid Rising. Apparently this game is about cutting. Cutting everything from limbs to brick support beams to watermelons.
Last but not least, Microsoft announced their new Xbox 360 model (often called the “Xbox 360 Slim” by consumers and press), which is smaller and features built-in Wi-Fi and a 250GB hard drive for the same price as the current Elite model. And it launches … today? Just like the Sega Saturn? Well OK, way to follow in the footsteps of one of the industry’s greatest success stories. But that just wasn’t enough everyone in the audience was also given a free Xbox 360, a move mirroring Oprah Winfrey’s now-classic “and you get a car” event that left most of the press conference’s audience speechless and somewhat confused.
For more news and commentary out of E3 2010, check back with our E3 2010 label page.