Microsoft E3 Conference: Kinect, Halo, Minecraft... And They Mentioned Australia!

As I type, I'm currently sipping on a really rubbish cup of tea, wearing my wife's dressing gown for some reason, and I'm very, very cold. And tired. I've just sat through the Microsoft E3 conference and this is my report - there were a few surprises, some brilliant demos, and a handful of incredible, incredible GIF opportunities.

Plenty of big name franchises made appearances, and some looked spectacular.

BOOM RAIDER The Tomb Raider reboot was practically a picture perfect E3 demo. A gorgeous, linear demo gave us our first look at in-game footage. My thoughts? The game looks set-piece driven, but in a good way - in an Uncharted way.

The demo did a fantastic job of making me feel intensely claustrophobic - the James Bond-esque calm we're used to seeing from Lara has been replaced with youthful panic and terror. It's written all over the game, from the camera angles, the voice work, to the way the set-pieces are managed. Make no mistake - this is by far the darkest entry into the Tomb Raider series yet. Apparently there are more open, large sections in the game - if the development team manages to mix up the pacing, this could be the best Tomb Raider yet.

THE BIG GUNS Modern Warfare 3 did its thing - and looked polished, if a little uninspired. Mass Effect 3's Kinect capabilities seemed similarly bland, voice commands to manoeuvre through dialogue trees and squad commands.

The game itself, however, looked incredible.

I was a little taken aback, however, by just how creative Ubisoft is being with its Kinect capabilities for the new Ghost Recon game. Of all the Kinect integration into 'core' games, Ghost Recon did the best job of creating a unique, truly immersive experience. Very excited to see how this works in more detail.

AUSTRALIA! THAT'S WHERE WE COME FROM A major part of Microsoft's E3 conference was devoted to the ways in which Kinect will revolutionise entertainment in general. LIVE TV and voice control via Kinect was the major focus. Attention was drawn to the fact that TV services are now a global thing, with Foxtel in Australia getting a shout out.

Of course, it felt a little hollow considering the fact we don't have proper voice control via Kinect yet. Surely an announcement can't be too far away.

MINECRAFT... ON 360? WITH KINECT? This was easily the biggest surprise for me, personally. Minecraft on 360 makes a lot of sense - but with Kinect? It's difficult to see how this will work, but I would love to see some sort of integration with menus and the actual crafting side of Minecraft. Can't wait to hear more on this development.

KINECT OVERLOAD Inevitably, the horde of franchise, core titles made way for a barrage of Kinect titles. Most of which, besides Tim Schafer's Sesame Street, seemed a little uninspired. Kinect sports in particular, looks like the kind of game I will absolutely, positively never touch in my life. There were some incredible GIF opportunities, however. I look forward to seeing them hammered into the ground over the coming days and weeks!

HALO? IS IT ME YOU'RE LOOKING FOR? The announcement of Halo 4 was left to the end, and was shown in the form of what looked like a CG trailer. Development in being handled by in-house Microsoft studio 343, and while we're a little tentative with regards to another studio taking the reins, it'll be interesting to see what a fresh set of eyes will do for the series.

Being perfectly honest, however, the trailer showed practically nothing. Explosions... Master Chief... Cortana... more explosions. End.

It is worth noting, however, that Microsoft was keen to emphasise the fact that Halo 4 was the beginning of a new trilogy, which presumably means that a Halo 5 and 6 are also on the way. At some point in the future at least.

In a strange way, the announcement of a Halo: Combat Evolved remake really got me excited. The game is being completely 'remastered' and will include online play with the multiplayer maps from the original. Considering that I still consider the original to have the best multiplayer of the series, personally this is a welcome announcement for me.

But besides the Halo announcements - this conference was all about Kinect. The Minecraft announcement was a surprise, but hardly a show stopper. Not the best Microsoft E3 conference I can remember, but far from the worst.


    An alright conference, but probably not worth staying up for, if it weren't for the wonderful commentary from here and twitter (I feel dirty from saying that). Apparently the multiplayer for Halo:CE:AE:2011:AMISP:343 is essentially just a map-pack for Reach, but the campaign is the original game with fancy graphics, which I'm cool with. The Apokinectalypse is here, and modern warfare looks as exciting to me as watching grass grow.

      I think my brain has more.

      Mass Effect 3 looks to simply be more of ME2. I have no problems with that, but currently it doesn't really stand out for me (I'm certain that will change).

      Once Upon a Monster makes me wish I had a child. But not enough for me to actually get one, they look difficult.

      The Ghost Recon Kinect control, while unique, and quite cool, looks about as practical as a support made of cheese.

      And Tomb Raider seems to take my favourite part of the first Alien film (female heavy breathing and grunting), and made it British, so I'm cool with that.

    IGN are reporting that minecraft will work with controllers too.

    I think it's interesting that the voice in ME had little or no reaction, but the one melee kill got a huge ooh from the audience.

    oh alright, so it's 343 studios that are going to be developing Halo 4 ... I assume they also are taking up the Halo remake then? I don't really know much about them (though I think they did that 'Waypoint' thing) so I guess we'll see how they do

    I'm Fairly certain that Halo 4 doesn't interest me, but that 'Combat Evolved Remake' could be pretty sweet...

    Did they even mention Witcher 2? That's the worst E3 conference since Sony announced the price for the PS3.

    That Lionel Ritchie pun was forged in the heavens.
    Made me choke on my Just Right.
    (Yeah, you heard me. No boring cornflakes in my bowl)

    Voice controls for Mass Effect 3? Pass, I don't want to be saying what's on screen, not when it's quicker to just flick my controller and select the phrase. They say it's to increase immersion into the game, my only problem is how is it immersing me in the game? I've read the line, now I've got to say it again, they're doubling up how long it takes to get from line to line. Pass.

    More Halo, always welcome!

      Voice control in Mass Effect 3 actually makes me want a Kinect, and to BioWare's credit, at least they (hopefully) aren't adding Kinect movement control.

    Hi Mark,

    It would be great if you could get some kind of word out of Microsoft Australia about the absent voice control in our Kinect given the apparent emphasis during the briefing on coming additions to voice control and game features including such control.


      I haven't stopped putting the word out! I'm right there with you mate.

    Watching the conference at work.

    Bing on Xbox?... HAH... that's what my laptop is for!

    Does anyone know if UFC LIVE will come to Australia???????

    A shout out for FOXTEL?

    A company that's overcharging for what sucks money out of our pockets from IPs, XBOX **AND** FOXTEL all at once?!

    "Go you Okker Mates! Take it! YEAH! TAKE IT! HARDER! Bend OVER more! YEAH! Almost...ALMOST..."

    Is it just me, or does that lineup sound pretty lame? I mean Halo HD is great news - but it's nothing new. Halo 4? Oh dear. Minecraft 360? Great idea, but hardly amazing news.

    Might have to watch it and see if I'm missing something, because from the description, it sounds pretty weak.

      I was completely underwhelmed as well.

      At least there's still Nimntendo to look forward too, and maybe Sony can deliver something interesting too.

      I am so over Kinect -especially in it's NON-VOICE CONTROL, laggy current form.

    it is so bad that silly iphone games and old reboots coming to 360 are the highlight. sad day in xbox land

    lol so they mention australia... but then don't actually give us anything? It nice to know that they realise we exist... but that really isn't enough for me lol

    MS had a far better lineup than Sony's poor showing and the Kinect core titles actully looked very good the free Funlabs that is now available to everyone with Kinect is very impressive...

    MS have pulled it off but I expect Nintendo will win overall with it's new console showoff.

    Speaking for myself I was pretty blown away by how they worked Kinect into Ghost Recon!

    So has anyone tried out Funlabs yet - I'm downloading it now

    I really hope that you can play Minecraft with a regular xbox controller, not just the Kinect. If it's just the Kinect, I'm not buying...

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