Tagged "E3"

Jun 06
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

“There’s plenty of life left in the Xbox 360” said Microsoft last week. What they forgot to add is that you’re going to need a Kinect to squeeze that extra milage out of it. Just about every game shown during their E3 conference uses the device in someway from head-tracking in Forza Motorsport 4 (queue impending whiplash claims) to voice controls in EA’s Mass Effect 3. “Wrex, I choose you!”

EA also confirmed that Madden, FIFA, Tiger Woods and The Sims 3: Pets will feature Kinect support. Broken lamp-shades and jealous pooches ahoy.

But let’s rewind first. Microsoft’s day kicked off with the release of a new Kinect Star Wars trailer. When shown at last year’s E3 it took the form of an unconvincing pre-rendered video that failed to impress. One year later and, well, not much has changed. The trailer shows a range of mini-games including pod racing, rancor stomping and third person adventure sections that bare a worrying resemblance to Star Wars: Obi Wan on the original Xbox. Unless those pod races feature different tracks and leagues to play through it looks like it’s going to be a very shallow package indeed.

Microsoft then dropped a clanger by leaking news of Halo 4 roughly two hours before the conference began. This news came from their own Xbox.com site, believe it or not. Halo 4 was supposed to be their big finale for their E3 conference but the leak soon put a damper on that. But worry not – there were a few surprises on show. And a few unintentionally amusing moments too.

The conference started with demos of two multi-format releases – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Tomb Raider. The first saw a group of soldiers undertaking an underwater mission – which came to an abrupt standstill when a ‘Please reconnect controller’ message appeared on the screen – while Lara’s latest managed to impress with some Uncharted 2-style vistas and an unexpected hint of survival horror. It looks fantastic, but it’s not out until Fall 2012. Modern Warfare 3 has been dated as 9th November though and according to Microsoft “all Call of Duty downloadable content will be available first on Xbox 360.”

Mass Effect 3 and Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier were then shown. The crowd cheered when Mass Effect’s Shepard pulled out a sword during the demo which also showed off the voice command system. It’s down for release on 9th March 2012. A collector’s edition will also be available containing a Dark Horse comic book, hardcover art book, soundtrack CD, lithograph, N7 patch and four exclusive guns. Likewise, Ghost Recon Future Soldier has Kinect support in the form of voice commands, body tracking and Minority Report-style menus that let you customise your own weapons. “All future titles in the Tom Clancy franchise will leverage Kinect,” says Ubisoft’s Yves Guillemot.

Next, Microsoft showed off their continuing efforts to turn the Xbox 360 into an entertainment hub. YouTube is on its way and a new voice controlled Bing search service will help you look for items on the marketplace quickly. For instance, saying “Bing X-Men” will bring up a list of X-Men films, games and themes to download. Microsoft’s demonstrator pronounced Lego as ‘Lay go’, much to the amusement of those following the conference live on Twitter. “You guys aren’t going to let this lay go, are you?” we said.

Ice T then came on stage and had a go on Gears of War 3 with Cliff Bleszinski in co-op. Another mispronunciation occurred when Ice T seemingly chose to rename ‘horde mode’ to ‘whore mode’. Crytek’s Roman Kinect hack and slash Ryse was then shown followed by the heavily rumoured Halo 1 remake. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, as it’s called, is going to be a boxed retail release and not a download as some may have first thought. Online co-op play is the focus with seven multi-player maps promised. The trailer for Halo 4 meanwhile was merely a teaser but it’s the start of a new trilogy, which effectively confirms Halo 5 and Halo 6. Master Chief and Cortana are both back, but not until 2012. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is out this year though. In November, to be precise.

Forza Motorsport 4 footage looks very impressive with 16 cars on a track at once. Power by Kanye West played over the top of the video. Incidentally, THQ used the same track for their Saints Row 3 trailer.

Those that thought Fable 3 lacked visual finesse can rejoice – Fable: The Journey is powered by the Unreal 3 engine. The demo showed the Kinect being used to whip the reigns of a horse and then cast spells from a first person perspective. It’s out 2012.

From epic quests to indie games – Minecraft is coming to Xbox 360 this winter. Again, Kinect is the method of control. I really hope that you can still use a joypad.

You might not give a Donald Duck about Kinect Disneyland Adventures or Tim Schafer’s Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster but a small person in your life might do. Kinect Disneyland Adventures is being developed by Frontier. A Peter Pan flying game and an Alice in Wonderland croquet “sim” were demonstrated by two children who gave one another a fist bump after playing it. After the show they were taken back to their orphanage by a limo.

Rounding off the conference was Dance Central 2, Kinect Fun Lab (which will be a portal to homebrew content) and Kinect Sports Season 2 which is being co-developed between Rare and the guys behind Kinect Joy Ride. This time American football, baseball, darts, golf, tennis and skiing will feature. Why? Because apparently these are the sports you asked for.

Indeed, the conference did feature a few too many sequels and updates but with innovation thriving on Xbox Live Arcade – with such games The Gunstringer, Bastion, Toy Soldiers: Cold War and Kinect Fruit Ninja due – as there’s no need to feel disheartened by the lack of new IP.

Jun 05
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

E3 doesn’t kick off until tomorrow, but that hasn’t stopped publishers showing off several shiny new games prematurely. It’s hard to imagine that the PR people were worried about them being ignored at the show – some quite big name titles have been bandied about over the past few days.

A handful of journalist have already been treated to first play on the NGP, or whatever Sony ends up calling it. Those lucky people include T3 Magazine, who were kind enough to drop a hands-on video into our inbox. We now know that the handheld plays PSP games through emulation; visuals will be improved and in some instances (such as Resistance: Retribution) support for the NGP’s second analogue stick will feature. Amongst the first wave of titles will be augmented reality brawler Reality Fighters (from the developers behind Invizimals), Wipeout 2048 (set four years before the PSone original and features cross format play with PlayStation 3 owners) and Uncharted Golden Abyss. There’s also Sound Shapes – a rhythmical platformer that supports user-generated levels – pool sim Hustle Kings, the WarioWare-alike Little Deviants, Super Stardust Delta and Everybody’s Golf. As you can see over on Eurogamer, Wipeout 2048 is looking quite lovely.

Sony haven’t forgotten about the PlayStation 3 either as a duo of new PSN titles have been revealed. Papo & Yo – due out in 2012 – is the most interesting of the two, starring a boy named Quico who lives in a South American slum with a pink monster. Sony’s Pub Fund helped the game get the green light. The trailer shows some ICO-style teamwork and also a slightly worrying amount of block pushing. The second title is Payday: The Heist from new Swedish studio Overkill, headed by the former boss of GRIN. It’s a four-player co-op shooter featuring six different heists such as bank jobs and prison breaks. We’ll just ignore the fact that GRIN made the rubbish Terminator: Salvation tie-in, shall we?

Over in the world of multi-format a big surprise came in the form of a co-op Star Trek shooter from Digital Extremes starring Kirk and Spock. Digital Extreme are also hard at work on The Darkness II so don’t be surprised if it uses the same engine and whatnot. US publication Game Informer has an exclusive on it this month; the screenshots are very…citrusy.

Then there was a new Tomb Raider trailer which managed to get Twitter in a tizzy on Friday. As you can see for yourself above, the incredibly detailed trailer shows Lara taking a journey on a large navy ship, which then gets ripped in half during a storm. Lara finds herself waking up on an island surrounded by wrecked sea vessels. No in-game footage has been shown but if you’re egar for more information EDGE magazine has an exclusive on it this month. It should be good; Lara lovers Crystal Dynamics are behind it.

And because we’re not ones to ignore the smaller publishers and developers out there, Deep Silver has revealed the snow-covered sports package Winter Stars for Kinect and PlayStation Move. The Wii version meanwhile is compatible with the balance board. Up to four players can partake in 11 different sports online including “curling”.

We’ll be covering the E3 conferences in full tomorrow and Tuesday. If you don’t follow us on Twitter already, now is as good as time as any.

Jun 14
By Matt Gander In Blog 1 Comment

And so the official name for Natal is now Wave. Actually, that’s a lie – it’s now Kinect, a word that Microsoft Word’s spellchecker really doesn’t like. So, the rumours of it being renamed as Wave turned out to be false. That said, it might have gone under the moniker of Wave behind the scenes at Microsoft over the past few weeks – Eurogamer claims that Microsoft only trademarked the word Kinect in the past month.

The motion sensing camera is due out worldwide this winter, starting in North America on November 4th. 15 games are promised at launch, all of which involve waving your arms around like a loony. Kokatu says that the 360-exclusive Star Wars game that was shown looked the most impressive. Eurogamer seemed to reckon that it’s an on-rails affair though. Rare are behind Kinect Sports, which includes soccer, bowling, javelin, long jump, table tennis, boxing and beach volleyball. They’re also responsible for Kinect Adventures, which includes the water rapids game that a few people let slip about. The camera takes photos of you as you play, so make sure you do your make up before playing.

On the dashboard you’ll be able to access the The Kinect Hub where you can use the camera to interact with Facebook, Netflix and Zune. MCV reckons that Kinect games will retail for £29.99 – the same price as most Wii titles. The elusive RRP for Kinect remains a mystery for now, although Game are letting gamers pre-order it already.

As for third party Kinect stuff, Ubisoft are reading Motion Sports and Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, THQ will release The Biggest Loser, Blackbean has Get Fit (featuring Spice Girl Mel B), Konami are offering Adrenalin Misfits and Dance Masters while MTV/Harmonix have Dance Central in the pipeline. Here, you have to copy dance moves as they appear on screen – they’ve worked with world class choreographers to bring 600 moves and 90 routines. Some Disney games were also promised but all that was shown as a CGI Tinkerbell. Joy. The Kinect line-up isn’t just kid’s stuff and games for fitness buffs – Forza Kinect and Joy Ride are two very different racing games for Micosoft’s new toy. Joy Ride was first announced a whole year ago as a free-to-play Xbox Live game. It’s not clear if this is still the case. Metal Gear Solid Rising will support Kinect too while Sega announced Sonic Free Riders.

Now back to the games that require those old fashioned joypads. Fable 3, now with added Jonathan Ross, has a release date of 26th October while Halo: Reach will be available from 14th September. There’s a new video here. Gears of War 3 is shaping up nicely – as well as a few new characters, including female Anya, there’s also a four-player cooperative campaign and the new Beast mode. It’s due in the US on 5th April 2011 and Europe on 8th April.

Crytek are doing a 360-exclusive too currently known as “Codename Kingdoms“. Only brief footage of a gladiator was shown. And in a move that will no doubt piss off many PlayStation 3 owners, all future Call of Duty add-ons and map packs will appear first on Xbox 360 for the next three years. That deal must have cost Microsoft many gold coins

The new name for Natal wasn’t the only surprise. Not by a long shot – Microsoft have “done an Apple” and announced that a new sleeker version of the Xbox 360 will be shipping to US retailers from today. It’s “whisper quiet”, has a 250GB HDD and “the fastest wireless network for any console”. The cost? Same as the plain old noisy Xbox 360 – $299. It’s out in PAL-land on 16th July. It reminds me of one of those Alienware PCs.

In the world of downloads, namely Xbox Live Arcade, two mention-worthy games were confirmed – the 2D Castlevania: Harmony of Despair and Hydro Thunder Hurricane, which will have an 8-player online mode.

Plenty of new games, then. But perhaps a few too many evolving getting fit. I’d also wager that most of the third-party games shown for Kinect will also be appearing in Sony’s E3 round-up tomorrow. And maybe even in Nintendo’s conference too.

Jun 09
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

E3 kicks off next week. Because we have a fear of air hostesses (and in-flight meals) we won’t be attending. We will though be covering the conferences from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo and writing a round-up of all the other good stuff announced.

Microsoft start off the conferences on Sunday 13th June, followed by a media briefing on the 14th. Nintendo and Sony are both holding theirs on 15th June.

But what can we expect? Microsoft will be showing Natal, now rumoured to be called Wave, and its first batch of software. Rumour also has it that the free to play Joy Ride – announced at the last E3 – is now a Natal/Wave title. You can also expect Gears of War 3, Halo: Reach, Fable 3 and Crackdown 2. I think this might possibly be the third E3 running for Crackdown 2 now.

Sony will no doubt be shoving their motion controller in people’s hands and showing off their new 3D PlayStation 3 titles. Please, Sony, don’t use Brunswick Pro Bowling to demonstrate the PlayStation Move again.

Sony have also been telling the press that they’ve “learned at lot” from the PSPgo, speculating that the next PSP could go back to having a UMD drive. PSPgo 2? PSP 2? PSP 4000? Who knows that it’ll be called. Well, Sony probably does. Speaking of PSP, we should see more of God of War: Ghost of Sparta and that Resident Evil game that was announced yonks ago. Maybe we’ll get to see The Last Guardian on PlayStation 3 too.

Which leaves us with Nintendo, who usually have a surprise up their sleeve. Wii Party has already been announced as their next big first party game, while Zelda and Pikmin 3 have too been confirmed to be in development. Metroid: Other M must be near to being finishing by now so expect that to be playable. Potentially, the Nintendo 3DS could very well steal the show. It was recently reported that the 3D-ness can be turned off, while IGN have heard whispers from developers that the graphics are on-par with Xbox 360. Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello has laid eyes on it already: “I will tell you, I’ve seen it; it’s cool,” he said.

A few publishers have been poking our e-mail inbox with lists of what they’ll be showing. 2K Games are airing Mafia 2, Sid Meier’s Civilization V, Spec Ops: The Line (due out next year?) and XCOM plus Nickelodeon Fit and New Carnival Games on Wii. Bethesda meanwhile have a very promising line-up consisting of Brink, Fallout: New Vegas, Hunted and RAGE. Hopefully this means they’ve given up publishing tat like Rogue Warrior and Wheel Spin.

We’ll also be posting news E3 news as on our Twitter feed. But only when our boss is away from his desk.

May 14
By Jake In Blog 2 Comments

Back in the day, it would have been E3 time about now. Having taken in a bit of July in recent history, it’s in June this year. Getting to the point: it looks like there could be quite a lot of new hardware.

PlayStation Move and Natal will both be looking for a bit of the market for games without controllers, which Nintendo is currently kindly looking after for everyone with the Wii. Some reckon that could spell problems for Nintendo. I reckon that depends on whether people are happy with their Wii.

More interesting for me are Nintendo’s 3DS and the much talked about PSP 2.

Taking the PSP 2 first, we don’t know whether it’s even coming. But if it is, what’s it going to be? A more powerful, twin-sticked upgrade won’t cut it; it’s all about touch screen in the handheld ‘space’ these days, isn’t it? After the hilarious futility of the PSPgo, who knows what Sony might try. If anything.

The 3DS is interesting too. Apparently that’s not even going to be the final name, and the 3D bit can be turned off. So have Nintendo been up to their usual trick of keeping the key feature secret, as they did with the DS’s touch screen, and the Wii’s motion controller?

I’m expecting the screens to be mounted in a massive oversized foam hand.

Jun 09
By Matt Gander In Blog 1 Comment

Forza 3 developers Turn 10 had a surprise visit on their E3 booth…from Gran Turismo developers Polyphony Digital. This is what Turn 10’s Che Chou posted on his Forza Motorsport blog page:

“Perhaps the most surprising [visit] to me was when a couple developers from Gran Turismo makers Polyphony Digital came by to personally get hands-on with Forza 3, all the while taking careful notes, examining our UI system, shooting photos, and directly asking us some pretty interesting questions. The reason I say I was personally surprised was because PD aren’t generally known as a studio to acknowledge that there are racing games that exist beyond their own. Which could explain why the GT franchise has been so stagnant in the racing genre since GT3.”

Stagnant? Put your claws away, Che!

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