E3: Microsoft Press Announcement Thoughts.

I arrived at the live stream a bit late and missed some of this years live broadcast, getting there just in time to hear that from July 1st Xbox Gold users will now receive two free games a month, with the first offerings being Assassins Creed 2 and Halo 3. Great news on one hand, yay for free games! On the other hand they are mid franchise games, what use is that to those who haven’t played the previous games in those franchises. What if I am not interested in either game. Something which is bound to happen sooner or later as the months go on. Wouldn’t it of been better to offer a choice from a wider selection? What happens when you cancel your Gold account? Do you lose your games? 

 There was a good selection of games shown today. One game that I would love to play is Ryse: Son of Rome, but as it is Xbox One exclusive, I can’t see that happening. I am pretty excited about it none the less. The graphics are sharp and the action is fast paced. I’m not usually a fan of quick time events as games can become stupidly simple and we all like a challenge, but in Ryse the scenes are so cinematic that I can  appreciate it’s use here as it gives you a chance to take a good look at what is going on around you. It felt much like an ancient Rome Call Of Duty. Some of the action scenes shown were impressive, like hacking enemies legs clean off and close ups of enemies being stabbed through the neck.

Another interesting game was Sunset Overdrive. A bright cartoon styled insane multiplayer open
world shooter that truly looks like a whole lot of fun. What makes it different is that players will get the chance to experience an ever changing world which is updated daily, bringing longevity to the game in, hopefully a fun, non repetitive way.

Forza 5 also looked promising. The new cloud based Drivatar AI system adds an interesting new aspect to racing gaming. Drivatar learns how the player drives and saves these behaviours to the cloud. If you want to play a friend and they are offline, you can choose to  play against their Drivatar, which will respond exactly how they would in game if they were actually at the controller. What’s more, they can still earn rewards when they’re offline. So it makes sense to play attention to your driving skills when you are online if you really want to rack up them trophies.

The Dead Rising 3 game play was incredible. This time around Dead Rising is set in a huge open world. Everything is a potential weapon here and you can combine items to make more weapons. There are literally hundreds of options as you work your way thorough the game. The graphics are a lot more realistic than previously seen in the Dead Rising series. Examples of game play included being able to distract hordes of zombies using flares, and using a saw wheel to split Zombies bodies in two! I am looking forward to playing this like you wouldn’t believe! Sadly it will be available exclusive to Xbox One. Hopefully it comes to PC one day soon!

 Battlefield 4 looked outstanding! There was an incredibly awkward moment where the presenter had no idea what was happening and  was forced to stand there while we all stared at him, while he got heckled by the crowd, waiting for the sound guy to do his job! Poor bloke. We were shown an amazing battle at sea which ended in a fast paced speed boat ride across choppy waters with fighter jets headed straight for you. The game audio sounded immersive and realistic as soldiers around you react to what is happening. Gripping action, I can’t wait to play it. 

Some other cool looking new games are Quantum Break. Watch the video to see why this game is a must play. D4, a comic book styled murder mystery. It reminds me a little of VIII or the film A Scanner Darkly . An awesome looking XBLA title called Max the Curse of Brotherhood in which a boy accidentally puts a curse on his pesky little brother who is sucked in to a worm hole. You jump right in after him to rescue him from some old mustachioed nutter. Project Spark, a Kinect sand box type game that allows you to literally speak worlds in to existance by choosing terrains etc. Everything in the game can be manipulated to create some very imaginative playable worlds. For example adding life to inanimate objects and assigning specific behaviours, like making them protect you against enemies for example.

Throughout the presentation presenters would pull out Smart Glass and show how it worked with different games. During Dead Rising 3 they called in artillery assistance. In Project Spark they showed how you can edit your creation using your touch screen device. I just can’t get excited about this kind of gaming. It just seems like it would feel unnatural and awkward. What do you think?

Sadly nothing from yesterday excited me enough rush out and pre-order the Xbox One. Not even it’s exclusive titles. A lot of the games would look just as good on the 360. After Xbox revealed a few weeks back that the Xbox One will an all seeing, all knowing spy machine, it was always going to take something exceptional for me to overlook this. We should be concerned about this style of data collection, especially since the PRISM story leak at the weekend which named Microsoft as a PRISM partner. You can read more about this story over at Forbes.

Xbox One will launch in November for £429. Yes, seriously.


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