Microsoft’s press conference was exactly what we don’t care about: Sports, Music, Fitness, and gimmicks. It felt to us like Microsoft completely forgot that E3 was a gaming convention, focusing instead on multimedia and superfluous device integration.
They did bring a few games. The show kicked off with some Halo 4 footage, and ended with Call of Duty Blackops 2 that lasted too long. We’re tired of Halo and Call of Duty, aren’t you? Neither impressed us beyond what we’ve seen from their predecessors. A few trailers and gameplay of games we already knew about like Fable and Tomb Raider were just alright; Tomb Raider does give off an Uncharted vibe now, so you might want to keep it on your radar. Splinter Cell Blacklist was shown, but we cringed as we watched the franchise take a turn for all-out-action with a focus on ‘mark and execute’ mechanics that seemed to play the game on autopilot; At least Spy vs. Merc is coming back. It’s sad, but the best game Microsoft showed may have been South Park: The Stick of Truth.
Smart Glass was the best of the worst from Microsoft’s briefing. Smart Glass allows mobile devices like the iPad, iPhone, Microsoft tablets/phones, etc., to integrate with the Xbox 360. You can use your phone to control the Internet Explorer browser coming to Xbox, or take control of the multimedia features on the console. Smart Glass also acts like a sidekick to some games by taking the place of what normally is found by pressing the back button — you know, that lore stuff or details you normally just gloss over. Smart Glass lets your mobile device display stuff not on the Tv, and sometimes interact with the game on a minor level.
While a neat gimmick for multimedia integration, like seeing a map of Middle-Earth showing where the Fellowship is at in the movie, the gaming side of this feature appears pointless to us. Kinect was never properly integrated into games, and now they’ve introduced a diametrically opposing tech. We can’t figure out what they’re going to do to convince developers that this is something worth integrating into third party games. Nintendo’s Wii U shown yesterday has Microsoft beat already by integrating right into the controller — a device meant for gaming.
Sadly, it couldn’t get much worse for Microsoft, but at least that means anything Sony brings will be interesting.