LOS ANGELES--Microsoft's E3 press conference was packed with new software and services, from Kinect-enabled games to the promise of live TV. But, at the same time, some Xbox staples were missing in action, as were some hoped-for hardware announcements.
The biggest omission was the lack of a new Halo game coming this year. After Halo 3, Halo ODST, and Halo Reach, there has been a new Halo game each of the past three years. However, Microsoft couldn't go cold turkey. Instead we get Halo: Combat Evolved: 10th Anniversary Edition, a remade version of the original Halo game with updated graphics. It's an interesting idea, but like most movie remakes, a risky one. And, in a last-minute tease just as the press conference ended, we saw a few seconds of Halo 4--but that's not slated to release until "holiday 2012." Assuming it stays on schedule, that's roughly 17 months away.
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Also missing was the never officially canceled Kinect demo showpiece, Milo. The onscreen virtual boy has been trotted out each of the past two years. The almost creepily lifelike little boy showed what Kinect was capable of in terms of allowing players to interact with computer-controlled characters in a realistic way, but that level of interaction has yet to make it into an actual game. Late last year, the rumor mill said work had stopped on Milo, and it would never be a commercially released game, but talked to several attendees who were hoping to see it.
With Nintendo and Sony having new hardware to show off--the sequel to the Wii and the NGP handheld--Microsoft may have felt some pressure to show off a sneak peek at the next generation of console hardware. That pressure was resisted, and the press conference ended without a hint of what's next, even though living room game consoles generally have a five-year lifecycle.
For some historical context, Sony offered seconds-long preview of the still-unnamed PSP handheld at its press conference before E3 2004, showing off a single UMD disc, and promising a reveal of the hardware that would run it the following year.
Editors' note: This post has been updated to clarify the release date of Halo 4.