Well, hey, I got a free 360. So that made it okay, right? Right?
Perhaps Microsoft knew their lineup wasn’t quite as stellar as should be. Maybe they really wanted to get good impressions about the Slim. Maybe Don Mattrick just wanted to live an Oprah moment. I’ll take the 360, but it can’t make up for a substandard showing at Microsoft’s big moment.
It opened up like it should have: impressive gameplay demonstrations for Gears of War 3, Halo:Reach, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and most notably, Metal Gear Solid: Rising, which looked absolutely stellar. And then the launched into Kinect, which was expected. They showed off the Natal-enabled dashboard, which was nice, and announced a partnership with ESPN (how much this matters for thos residing in New Zealand, I’m not quite sure, though we were fairly excited). Then they demonstrated their casual Kinect launch lineup, and finished off with the Xbox Slim announcement and immediate ship date. Sounds all right, doesn’t it?
And don’t get the wrong idea. This wasn’t a treckwreck of a conference, as many on the internet are making it out to be. But there were numerous problems. First off: the only significant new game announcement, “Kingdom”, by Crysis, showed absolutely no gameplay, and gave us no idea of what to expect. There was *nothing else* that was new. Absolutely zero. They showed all of last year’s announcements, but made no new ones in their stead.
The press had seen Kinect’s launch lineup last night, so it was even less impressive than it would have otherwise been. They are unabashed Wii clones, an attempt by Microsoft to shift away the grandparents from Nintendo, and titles for which no longtime gamer will be particularly enthusiastic. Finally, a complete lack of a Kinect pricepoint left the crowd hanging. A low price would really go quite a ways in convincing us, even if nothing else for the Minority Report-like user interface system. But there was nothing. It felt anemic at times, directionless.
It was a mediocre conference, which is better than bad, but it left us wondering about the future of Microsoft. I’ll have a shiny new 360 Slim to play, but will I want to bother?