Posted on June 4, 2012 AT 01:00pm
It was great seeing trailers for what look like big games from Signal Studios and Twisted Pixel, but those 5-minutes of Usher “presenting” Dance Central 3 were a painful waste of time. Black Ops 2 as a closing gameplay segment looked gorgeous, but it was hardly a surprise and that’s what really irked me since we are used to Microsoft dropping jaws with a completely unexpected announcement at the end.
The only thing that actually redeemed this conference for me was the showing of Xbox SmartGlass, a new way of connecting your Xbox to all your other devices. Instead of getting in your way like the Kinect tends to, SmartGlass actually add to your experience only if you want it to. Sure, it will also help you browse the web on your Xbox, but really we already have computers for that. Overall, this conference would have been pretty big if not for one little problem. They told us the majority of the key points in advance through various press releases; this would have been a really impressive showing for Microsoft if only it were a surprise.
Also, did we really need Usher?
The Xbox conference had a little bit of everything, and nothing that wasn’t expected. While revealing trailers and news about several high-profile games, most of those games were either titles people already knew about, or ones quick reveal trailers that made little sense and said next to nothing about the game itself. They also pushed the Kinect a bit too much, with nearly every featured game using the device (some of which were pretty cool, such as Madden). Smart Glass is a great concept, but with using so many different devices, the system may have a hard time keep up with them all. If it works, it’ll be an incredible step forward, but as far as potential to stall goes, it’s right up there with the Zune.
Xbox now has more non gaming related s**t to clutter up your dashboard, oh and with Kinect commands too! Fingers crossed they will be releasing a Food Channel app soon and an Antiques Road Show app would make my pants tight.
While there are some strong contenders from the Xbox Briefing, all together, I wasn’t all that impressed. Games wise, Halo 4 looks amazing and gave me chills. I am definitely looking forward to it. I will say that the Black Ops 2 gameplay trailer may have turned my negative stance on it towards the positive. Other than those two, the only other game to catch my eye was Matter. It looks like Portal with balls (and no, not those kind of balls).
I’m a bit concerned about the influx towards the Kinect. It seems that every game that was shown had some kind of its gameplay connected to it. While it is probably too soon to tell if this will be good or bad move, I’m skeptical to say the least.
The non-game entities of Xbox are pretty interesting. I am excited to see NHL partner with Microsoft, and to see ESPN lay everything they’ve got on the table. In my opinion, the more apps the better. The same goes for SmartGlass. I will definitely be utilizing everything it has.
On the negative side, what is the deal with Xbox Music? That just about sets the last nail in Zune’s coffin. And did we really need Usher to promote yet another Dance Central? That time just felt wasted.
Starting off the show with Halo 4 was a good idea to get people pumped, at least until we saw that they decided to make Black Ops 2 last. The conference was not surprising at all even with the Splinter Cell announcement and for the most part, they focused on more of all the media features on the Xbox than more of the games. It was like a roller coaster. Started off at the tip top and provide the crowd with a high, and little by little my interest went down until we were just it just seemed flat and boring. Then Usher came along and showed most of us why we play Dance Central on easy difficulty. We didn’t even get a preview of Gears of War Judgement because they felt it wasn’t worthy of the time and was the really the only “surprise” Microsoft would have had to end the show with had it not been revealed early. Instead we’re stuck watching Black Ops footage.
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