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E3 2011: Microsoft press conference impressions

E3 2011Microsoft

More of the same. That was the underlying theme of Microsoft’s press briefing on Monday morning. The show began with a live demo of Modern Warfare 3, where a scuba diving SEAL unit dodged and then boarded a submarine. What followed were guns, explosions and helicopters. Michael Bay will love it.

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Microsoft’s executives spent little time on stage, preferring to let their own studios and many other third parties demo their games. While the presenters quickly changed, the theme was clear: Kinect. Microsoft’s accessory, which has broken sales records, was demonstrated over and over, in every possible game. It seems like to demo on stage, you almost had to have Kinect support in your game.

The demos were impressive, especially when it came to the announcement of Kinect Fun Labs. Here Microsoft’s technical achievement was clear. This is an outstanding marriage of hardware and software, a fully developed version of the concept that Sony pioneered years ago, but have subsequently dropped the ball on.

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A new Xbox Experience was shown, using the Kinect as a voice controller. Live TV was announced for the Xbox, but there was no mention of recent Microsoft acquisition Skype.

Yet while this was intriguing, it offered little new. Kinect is popular and now more games will support it. Halo 4 was briefly announced at the end, as if to keep the ‘core’ gamers onside, but while many will anticipate it highly, it is ultimately another sequel.

In the audience, the polite applause through most of the press conference gave away the overwhelming reaction: good, but nothing special.

The author of this fine article

is the Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2000. Get in touch on Twitter @PhilipMorton.

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