E3 2012: Pressers and Pickers – Part 1

I predict no subsequent day of E3 will be as exhausting at the first day. I attended three different press conferences today: Microsoft, Ubisoft and Sony, and by the end of it all, I was wiped out when I got back to my hotel at 9pm (and still had to stay awake another three hours to write.)

Microsoft was up first, and as usual, they had us wait for ages outside the venue where having forgotten to bring anything to keep me busy and having no one to talk to, I was stuck watching this guy:

Most people need two hands...

Most people need two hands to play a DS but this talented guy managed to play one for 40 minutes (I’m not even kidding) with one hand while the other spent the time mining for gold. I was personally amazed at how uninhibitedly he engaged in this unhygienic activity. It was like the other 5,000 of us weren’t even there.

Once inside, the highlight (or what was meant to be the highlight) of the Microsoft presentation was a performance by Usher, who was there promoting Dance Central 3. He came bounding out, full of pep saying, “I want to see you all on your feet!” He must never have performed for the video game press. They just sat there, fingers poised above laptops, looking bored.

Usher belts one out--er...lip syncs one for the press.

You kinda had to feel sorry for the guy, up there in his fancy sunglasses, Michael-Jacksoning all over the place and no one really giving a damn.

The crowd did however, seem to give a damn about the upcoming Halo 4, (which I personally am not in the least interested in). I have to admit, it was sort of thrilling, the way the game was shown, with the demo’s weapons fire pounding loud enough to shake the seats. Unfortunately, from the looks of it, the fourth Halo isn’t a whole lot different from the rest of the Halo games. Microsoft’s big push this year though, wasn’t Halo–it’s their near-manic integration of entertainment technology.

Xbox Smart Glass is supposed to make your phones, tablets, TVs and Xboxes all work together to make sure you never stop looking at screens, EVER. The idea is for instance, let’s say you’re watching a movie on your tablet but you want to continue it at home. Well with Smart Glass, you can do that. You can resume the movie on your TV and the rest of your gadgets will prick up their tiny little electronic eyes and ears and start watching it with you. They’ll then, like an annoying friend who sits on the couch next to you and never stops talking, interrupt your movie repeatedly by offering you all manner of ancillary information about it, just in case you know, the film itself isn’t enough to hold your attention.

I think this whole idea is totally absurd. I mean, do we really want every gadget we own automatically knowing everything we’re doing? I’m already creeped out by my Kinect, which I’m convinced is constantly watching me and transmitting random photos of me around the world to undisclosed locations. It’s constantly adjusting itself for no reason and self-selecting menu items by eavesdropping on my conversations. And now Microsoft wants me to add two or three more semi-sentient gadgets to the mix? Thanks, I’ll pass.

Although I didn’t find the Smart Glass idea compelling, one thing at the conference that did make me chuckle came during the Nike + Kinect Training section (it’s a personal training program) where presenters had the chutzpah to claim, “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.” Ha! That to me is like saying, “If you have a brain, you’re a genius.” Did they have any idea who they were presenting to?

For me, one of the best parts of the conference was the presentation of the new South Park game, South Park: The Stick of Truth. Show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone came out and made sarcastic remarks referencing the Smart Glass tech, saying they’d come up with something that would let you watch TV while talking on the phone while using your oven while sitting in the refrigerator. =D
The game itself looked pretty cool too – it lets you become the fifth of the currently four-man South Park gang.

Other than these titles, Microsoft announced (well, announced some – glossed over others) Call of Duty Black Ops 2, Wreckateer (an XBLA game that looked really lame), Ascend: New Gods (lots of skull-helm-wearing dudes running around stabbing each other), Resident Evil 6 (that one looked cool–Leon Kennedy forevar!) Forza Horizon (z-z-z-z-z-z), the new Gears of War, Fable: The Journey, Splinter Cell: Blacklist (cool use of Kinect voice recognition technology to lure enemies), EA sports FIFA 13 and Madden 13 (double z-z-z-z-z-z). Best of all however, was their coverage of the new Tomb Raider – my better half’s current game project, wahooo!

Go Lara!!

This one’s going to be a must-have folks, and I’m not just saying that because my brilliant husband’s helping design it. :)

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