It is once again that time of year. The time of year when not only does yours truly become another year older, but also a time when the entire video games industry goes into a frenzy of elusive reveals, shocking announcements and mind blowing revelations. It is a dream of mine to one day attend the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3) in Los Angeles. Consequently, that dream may, hopefully, be closer than I realise but more on that in another post.
For the very first time I managed to stream and successfully watch the entire Microsoft E3 press briefing. All two hours of it. How was it? Absolutely mind blowing! Eurogamer’s Ellie Gibson managed to sum it up perfectly: “E3 2009 may not have officially kicked off yet, but it’s already been a show to remember. After all, it’s not every day you get to see the likes of James Cameron, Paul McCartney and Pele chatting about videogames. Nor is it every day you get to have a conversation with a virtual 10 year-old or play Burnout with an imaginary steering wheel” (Project Natal Hands-on, Eurogamer, 2009). Yes, it was that good!
The following constitutes the main and most exciting announcements (For the full press release, please click here):
Xbox Live Video is now Zune Video On-demand: all content is 1080p (full HD) with 5.1 surround and is streamed (no queues or downloads)
Avatar Marketplace: buy new clothes and props for your Avatar as well as Avatar “unlockables” via achievements.
Most notable game announcements: Beatles Rock Band, Crackdown 2, Forza 3, Splinter Cell Conviction, Alan Wake, Metal Gear Rising, Halo 3 ODST and Halo Reach.
Most surprising/awesome announcement: ‘Project Natal’ – You are the controller via facial recognition, voice recognition and full body motion capture. Think Minority Report like functionality, for all games and all of the time. Simply incredible!
In all honesty, the Microsoft E3 press briefing was astounding. Short of announcing a successor to the Xbox 360, no one could have suspected the true capabilities of ‘Project Natal’. This is truly an evolution in video game play. The Nintendo Wii came close, but from what I have seen, ‘Project Natal’ blows it out of the water!
Here is an excerpt from an IGN article by Scott Lowe (full article here) )with impressions of the Microsoft E3 press briefing demo of ‘Project Natal’:
“Surprisingly, Microsoft not only unveiled the initial details of Project Natal to the media today, they also demoed the product live and in person. Members of the development team demonstrated two tech demos — a painting game and a kickball-style game. The painting game essentially has players using virtual cans of paint to splash on a canvas and create images. The painting game really showed the technology’s ability to detect arching movements and swift, but subtle hand motions. The kickball scenario, on the other hand, displayed how the camera could intelligently detect a player’s arms, legs, and head’s orientation and velocity in 3-D space. For the kickball game, the player swatted, kicked, and headbutted kickballs to knock down distant objects. What was impressive about both demos was the speed and efficiency of the device. As far as we could tell, there was little or no lag between a player’s motion and the in-game reaction. Equally impressive was how effectively the camera detected the precise angle of a player’s thrusts, jabs, and kicks, and how accurate the subsequent in-game representation was” (Scott Lowe, IGN 2009).
Microsoft Xbox – ‘Project Natal’ Product Featurette
There is so much more to discuss about ‘Project Natal’ that I will dedicate an entire post to this revolutionary form of game play in the near future. However, if you cannot wait to learn more, check out these videos:
Peter Molyneux of Lionhead showcases ‘Milo’: a virtual AI-driven game character
Ricochet Stage Demo: use your whole body to hit balls into obstacles
Paint Party Demo: use your entire body to create art
Tonight is Sony’s conference and tomorrow is Nintendo’s. Microsoft have undoubtedly set the bar high and only time will tell if the other video game giants will be able to compete or outdo the competition.
Until the next time “Milieunairs”!