Though they are a much rarer species now, the annual E3 video game trade show was once crawling with scantily clad "booth babes."
Over the decade we've been attending the show, things eventually got so out of hand that dedicated "booth babe" Web sites were popping up, and game companies were involved with a kind of promotional model arms race--which in retrospect fits with the spend-whatever-it-takes years of the show in the first half of the 2000s. Eventually, it devolved into a kind of self-parody, and you see a lot less of it in recent … Read more
LOS ANGELES--Having just returned from the Microsoft world premiere event showing off the newly named Kinect camera for Xbox 360 (formerly known as Project Natal), we're left with a burning question. The games demoed at the event ran the gamut from titles that let you drive a car, boat, and mine cart--all with graphics that would make a Nintendo Wii blush. But cool hardware aside, who's going to want to play these games?
Behind the pomp and circumstance of packing a college arena with white-robed journalists and an entire troop of Cirque du Soleil dancers, the real stars of the evening were the Kinect camera and games. About half a dozen were demoed by a collection of faux families, some suspended upside down or in mid-air, but all the footage shown was clearly pretaped, and not an actual live use of the Kinect camera (which we admit would have been difficult with the light show and acrobatics going on at the same time).
However, as impressive as the event itself was, the first round of Kinect games demoed seemed, well, exactly like first-generation games. There were several variations on using your hands and body movements to drive a vehicle, from a car to a raft to a kind of mine cart (with your avatar body on top, contorting to grab icons).
More promising was a yoga app, as well as a virtual pet. At the event, we actually snagged a tiny stuffed animal, which included a scannable code--we assume it would then place that particular animal in the game (which is called Kinanimals). Somewhat more strained was a follow-the-moves dance game, but given the success of television programs such as "So You Think You Can Dance," we may be on the wrong side of the cultural zeitgeist on that one.
But after all those game presentations, we're struck by how similar they are to games we've already seem for platforms including the PlayStation EyeToy (which originated on the PS2 in 2004) and Nintendo Wii. The EyeToy is a particularly apt comparison as it also used only hand and body movements, not a control stick like the Wii or upcoming PlayStation Move. … Read more
LOS ANGELES--After more than a year of speculation, we finally know what Microsoft's new motion-control system is called. For those that have referred to it for a year as Project Natal, meet Kinect for Xbox 360.
On Sunday night, at the University of Southern California's Galen Center here, and during a special performance by Cirque du Soleil, Microsoft finally and formally pulled back the wraps on its much-anticipated system, now known as Kinect, but originally the work of the Israeli company 3DV.
After sitting through (actually standing, as the press was placed on the floor of the arena for a couple of hours with no seats) the performance, in which the Cirque's performers acted out and demonstrated a number of ways that Kinect can be used, my first impression is that Microsoft has hit on something with some serious potential. But at least as demonstrated Sunday, that potential hasn't been fully realized.
It was tempting to think that Microsoft was taking Kinect a little too seriously during the performance, given the scale and scope of the event (more on that in a bit), but it's clear that the company has a system on its hands that it plans to incorporate widely across its video gaming and digital living room environments.
And while it's too soon to tell exactly how Kinect will be used, and what software is being developed for it--Microsoft will say a lot more Monday morning at its formal E3 press conference--one thing became clear Sunday night: with Kinect, and a sports game, and an exercise game for it, Microsoft is, among other things, putting Nintendo and its Wii, its Balance Board, its Wii Fit and Wii Sports squarely in its sights.
Microsoft's E3 press conference isn't scheduled to start until Monday morning in Los Angeles, but it appears that at least two of the bigger secrets may be out of the bag. Separate leaks indicate the final name for the Project Natal motion controller (along with a slate of games) and the possibility of a revised Xbox 360 console with a newly designed enclosure.
Project Natal redubbed Kinect: First demonstrated at 2009's E3 show, Microsoft's camera-based Project Natal motion controller will be officially dubbed "Kinect," according to an article in USA Today. It was long … Read more
With E3 just two days away, I got a press release this morning announcing that some hot-shot, young gamer known as Ph3nom will be attempting a world record at the huge convention with the hit game Guitar Hero.
This isn't just any record attempt. Ph3nom, otherwise known as Danny Johnson, is going to boot up an Xbox 360 and try to break the Guinness World Record for the game.
To which I say: Who cares?
I mean, sure, maybe Johnson will top the current record--the release doesn't say what it is or who holds it--but I find it … Read more
Each year E3 becomes the ultimate venue for game companies to flex their collective muscles in an effort to win over critics and gamers alike. Sometimes the news is groundbreaking, other times it can fall flat.
Let's take a look back exactly one year ago at E3 2009 and see how the show's biggest announcements have fared. From Project Natal to Wii MotionPlus, the PSP Go to the Vitality Sensor, the show certainly had its ups and downs. Click through our slideshow for a trip down memory lane.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) celebrates its 15th anniversary next week, and to kick it all off Microsoft is holding an entire event on Sunday evening just for its Natal gaming peripheral. That in itself is quite telling, considering Microsoft is spending another few hours the next day with its "real" E3 press event.
So what's the big deal with Natal? Well, in short, it's a big adrenaline shot going into the heart of the Xbox 360 at a time when consoles of yesteryear would be close to obsolescence. The once-standard, four- to five-year cycle for consoles has given way to the 10-year cycle--something Sony pioneered with the PlayStation 2, which remains the best-selling console of all time, and is still having new games made for it.
This new, 10-year cycle ends up benefiting hardware makers who are able to develop cheaper, better hardware; developers who can more easily create games that fully utilize the system hardware; and end users who can stick with the same platform and not have to worry about having to upgrade. This last part though, is where Natal comes in. Just two months ago Microsoft announced that it had sold a total of 40 million Xbox 360s worldwide, but more recent numbers from the NPD Group show that to be slowing. Part of that, no doubt, is due to a price cut and redesign of the PlayStation 3 system from Sonyin August that has brought a resurgence in sales.
The answer to any waning interest then is Natal, which promises to bring an entirely new gaming experiences to both a platform and hardware that's nearing its fifth birthday. In short, it may be just be a fancy video camera, but it represents the direction Microsoft intends to take the console for the next four (or more) years.
Let's take a look at some of the things Natal is bringing to the Xbox platform: … Read more
Thanks to a Green Day Rock Band tease, this was one of the least-kept secrets leading up to E3, but nevertheless, here's the visual proof: Rock Band 3 is getting itself a keytar. We felt certain enough to make it one of our "lock" predictions at this year's E3. Well, check that off the list.
EA/MTV/Harmonix's franchise already has 2,000-plus songs, a variety of discs, and a band full of instruments including guitars, bass, three-part microphone harmony, and drums. The newest game will have 83 songs from 83 bands and support for … Read more
What that means, for now, is that only Crazy Taxi and Sonic Adventure are making the leap. Sonic Adventure, as one of the first 3D Sonics, is a dubious choice. Crazy Taxi, however, is sheer genius. I always felt that Grand Theft Auto owed a bit to Crazy Taxi's madcap mission-based racing. As a quick-fix arcade … Read more
We're sure Sony will shed some more light on the company's stereoscopic 3D offerings at next week's E3 gaming expo, but PS3 owners with a 3D HDTV can get in on the action early.
According to CNET sister site Gamespot, Sony will release three full titles on the PlayStation Network with 3D support on Thursday. Wipeout HD and Super Stardust HD will offer a full 3D experience, while PAIN will only support 3D in two of the game's levels. Those who already own Wipeout HD and Super Stardust HD can update for free, while the PAIN … Read more