E3 2011: Microsoft unveils deeper integration of Kinect, live television to XBOX and yeah . . . Halo 4

By on June 9th, 2011 at 10:45 AM | News

Microsoft had one agenda going into E3 2011, Kinect, Kinect and more Kinect. This XBOX 360 peripheral has done everything from controller less gaming to help in shopping. Although Microsoft had no new console to show E3, it made up for it by showing the “New XBOX Experience”. With support for live television, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is aiming to be a complete multimedia center for your household. Microsoft also announced some much wanted real games for the Kinect including Star Wars. Keep reading for more on this and there was that Halo 4 announcement too.

Probably the biggest announcement from Microsoft was the new Halo trilogy, beginning with Halo 4. A brief trailer was shown, though inconclusive, but showed how the game has evolved over the decade from when the first game of the series, Halo: Combat Evolved, came out. I would go out on a limb and say that it would be another smash hit for the Halo enterprise. The biggest change from the previous series is that Bungie is not heading the development of this trilogy. Instead Microsoft has entrusted the development of this new trilogy to “343 Industies”. 343 (or 343i) was established by Microsoft to oversee the development of the Halo series after Bungie (also established by MS) became an independent studio. Some people jumped ship from Bungie to 343 during the transition. So you need not worry, the Halo franchise will still have its usual flair with some new age gameplay and multi-player modes.

Here’s the trailer for Halo 4, shown at E3 2011:

Also announced was the special 10 year anniversary edition of Halo: Combat Evolved. A completely remastered version of the original Halo game with better graphics and online co-op gameplay. It would include the seven classic multiplayer modes enhanced for XBOX Live and would be available November 15, 2011. Here’s the trailer for Halo: Combat Anniversary

Microsoft also unveiled the new XBOX experience. A new XBOX dashboard with Wp7 inspired interface(surprise ! surprise !) and Kinect driven interfaces. This is the first time that all Microsoft products be it Windows Phone 7, upcoming Windows 8 and the XBOX have similar UI design elements throughtout, showing a uniformity that has been lacking before. It was also announced that YouTube, Bing, are all coming to the new Xbox Live Dashboard, and they will also include Kinect support. Microsoft also confirmed rumors that live television programming will be coming to Xbox Live, though no pricing plans, channel selection or release date were announced. Another feature added to the XBOX is its ability to be controlled through voice alone and cloud storage for gamer tags, achievements, profiles and game saves.

Star wars for Kinect was also announced where you would be able to use the force in a very Kinetic way. You would be able to use the force to move objects and of course the lightsaber to kill all those Sith or Jedi (if you have embraced the Dark Side). I guess it would be the closest we can come to being a Jedi and that too without leaving the comfort of your home. At this point, it is unclear exactly how much control the player will have over their movement around each level of the game. The game’s camera automatically points the player towards the closest group of enemies, allowing the player to either use the Force from far away or dash close to the enemy to attack with the lightsaber. Walking was discarded as it would not have felt very natural playing in a room, the only way therefore is the force dash to reach your enemy.  Microsoft Studios’ Creative Director, Kudo Tsunoda also said about Kinect Star Wars that:

From very early on in our development of Kinect, we realized Star Wars was an ideal game for us. It’s one of those things where you can see how the unique parts of Kinect can bring to life the fantasy of being a Jedi in a way no other game console or media can do.

Microsoft also revealed some other Kinect titles including Disneyland Adventures, which allows you to travel through famous Disney scenes, Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster, which has you taking control of Elmo and Cookie Monster in a delightful-looking adventure and Dance Central 2 with voice integration. A look at Modern Warfare 3, Tomb Raider and Mass Effect 3 were also on display. All in all it was a good show by Microsoft considering no new hardware launch, and of course Halo 4 stole the show. I think its time to get a XBOX 360.

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