E3 Cometh: Part 3: Conclusion: Microsoft
The Electronic Entertainment Expo is coming June 17-19 and is looking to be one of the most unpredictable expos of the year. With Nintendo poised to bring out the 3D successor to the DS, the Nintendo 3DS, and promised games to be shown such as Metroid Other M (Nintendo/Team Ninja), Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision/Treyarch), and Metal Gear Solid: Rising (Konami/Kojima Productions). But with every E3 that has come and gone, there have been myriad surprises with everything from surprise games out of nowhere to the next generation of game consoles. So what can we expect from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft next month? Let’s take a look and make some possibly wild, but educated guesses.
By Loc Da’Borg
Microsoft is a company of many different divisions, with the biggest division being the Operating System division that made Bill Gates and company their fortune. In fact, it’s what Microsoft is most famous for and what it’s more associated with than anything. But when Bill Gates introduced the Xbox to the world in 2000 at the Game Developers Conference, the game changed and hasn’t been the same since. And boy are we glad for that! Since Microsoft decided to suit up and join the game, it’s pushed both Sony and Nintendo to do better now that a wildcard new guy was on the playing field.
With E3 approaching, Microsoft is at a turning point in the life of the 360. Going on 5 years now (the usual lifecycle of a console), the Xbox 360 is showing no signs of letting up and letting Sony claim the #2 spot willingly. With the likes of Halo: Reach, Gears of War 3, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 and Fable III, Microsoft’s E3 showing is nothing to sneeze at. But at this juncture, it will take more than just software to “win” E3 this time around. With both Sony and Nintendo bringing out new hardware (Sony with the PlayStation Move and Nintendo with the 3DS), Microsoft has to bring it and bring it with aplomb. So what does Microsoft and the Xbox 360 have to contend with Sony and Nintendo? One word: Natal.
At last year’s E3, we learned of a new motion controller than Microsoft had planned to show to the gaming press and, thus, the world and that it would revolutionize game control. This turned out to be no mere hand-held controller but rather a camera (with software) that flagged the body’s movements and translated that into in-game control. While innovative to the degree that Microsoft was aiming for, it was by no means unique as there had been previous such controls but without this level of sophistication. The initial demo featured an interaction between game character Milo and one of the hosts of the pre-E3 press conference. The press was understandably wowed but were slightly reserved in their enthusiasm. The question is not whether this new tech can be used, but how.
Certainly we can see it being used in something like Madden 2011 or Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, but what about other genres? Surely Microsoft is looking to expand the audience with Natal, but I’m sure that hardcore gaming will also be served by this new device. Could we see a fighting game or Kickboxing simulator for martial artists acting sort of like a reverse Holodeck of Star Trek lore? How about an RPG like Final Fantasy playing as Cloud Strife? The trick is imagining the many ways in which Natal could be utilized and, as importantly, how it will be sold to potential gamers, both hardcore and casual.
There is another albeit unlikely possible angle Microsoft can come to with the 360 outside of any new hardware or software. Although unlikely, they could finally address and correct the infamous hardware malfunction known as RROD (Red Ring of Death) that has plagued many a gamer. As unlikely as this is, it would a major win for Microsoft to finally correct this glaring blight on an otherwise awesome gaming system. This is just a wish and there have been no rumors, rumblings, what-have-you about any such fixes, so please don’t quote me on this. It would be awesome though, wouldn’t it?
If Microsoft can truly bring it with Natal, Natal related software and the “regular” software we’ve come to expect, then they just might have a truly tangible shot at winning E3.
This isn’t about who will “win” E3 but more about what surprises may be in store and what we, the consumers, can expect and look forward to. Assimilate the knowledge and hopefully this E3 doesn’t disappoint!