Posts Tagged ‘Kinect’

Once again it looks like Microsoft has announced another policy reversal. This time it’s in regards to the Kinect sensor with the Xbox One. Stemming from an Ask Microsoft Anything article from IGN, Xbox Corporate Vice President Marc Whitten has stated:

“Xbox One owners will be able to use all of the console’s core functions regardless of whether the new Kinect sensor is connected. Naturally, many of the tentpole features of the new Kinect, such as player identification, voice commands, etc., will be disabled as a result, but players will still be able to play games and access entertainment content.”

So what does this all mean? Basically, it means that the Kinect sensor is no longer required in order for the Xbox One to function. No more worrying about Microsoft “spying” on you. No more Kinect…period! While this latest reversal has Xbox fans once again rejoicing, I begin to wonder whether this change is a so called “victory” for gamers? Honestly, I don’t think so. The conclusion that I draw from all this is that Microsoft has raped the identity of the Xbox One leaving gamers confused about Microsoft’s next-gen vision.

Yes, Xbox One actually had a vision, however gamers including myself saw it as a console filled with restrictive policies that seemed to benefit the publishers more than the consumer. Personally, I was pissed off about the requirement of Kinect, DRM, always online, and no backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. All this gravitated me towards the PlayStation 4, and by E3 my decision was made after the Sony press conference as Jack Tretton stated that the PS4 was everything opposite of what the Xbox One was as well as $100 cheaper. I was sold. The PS4 was for me.

What has happened since E3 has had Microsoft backpedaling, and the results that followed had me wondering just what the heck was going on in Redmond. For a while I believed that Microsoft had it’s head on it’s shoulders, and was taking the correct steps in bringing a community of gamers together. Unfortunately, things have changed dramatically, because I now believe that Microsoft is absolutely clueless about what they’re doing. The last couple of months have been filled with reversals that include the Draconian DRM, self publishing with indie developers, always online, and now the Kinect. To put things in a nutshell, Microsoft has abandoned just about everything the Xbox One was supposed to be in terms of the future of gaming and entertainment just so they can compete with the PlayStation 4. Basically, the Xbox One is nothing more than a beefed up Xbox 360. Now why would you want something that you pretty much already have?

And what about the Kinect?

Now that the Kinect is no longer mandatory, developers might decide to no longer include the use of the peripheral when making their games. Why enhance the gameplay with a device that gamers were against using in the first place? This once again makes the Kinect nothing more than another useless gimmick. As of this moment, Microsoft has no plans to remove the Kinect sensor from the Xbox One which means first adopters will still have to pay the $100 extra for something that they might never use. For some this is a waste of money. Microsoft, on the other hand, can only hope that gamers will actually use it.

From excitement of the announcement to damage control that followed, it’s such a shame to see how far Microsoft has fallen in just the past few months. They’ve completely lost their way, and I just don’t understand why some people are such Microsoft apologists after all these reversals. The Xbox One now has a major identity crisis, and I no longer know what this console is or what exactly makes it so special. Maybe what Microsoft should’ve done was stick to their guns, and slowly ease people in to what could be the future of gaming and entertainment. Unfortunately, all Microsoft has done is continue to dig themselves further down the hole while still not finding a way to get themselves out of it.

* Source of linked IGN article written by Scott Lowe

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TV, TV, TV, Sports, Sports, Sports, Call of Duty.

What a letdown. May 21, 2013 was supposed to be the day when Microsoft would reveal a new generation of Xbox. Instead what I saw was a one hour tech demo starring my television. “Introducing Xbox One.” Xbox One! What a shitty name, but I did understand the eventual message of an all in one console. I thought I was going to see the next generation of gaming. Instead all I got was another high def cable box along with a new Kinect for me to issue commands to. This was what I was so excited about? What a bunch of horse shit! Where were the games?

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For an event that was being watched by gamers, Microsoft really showed that they were catering to a different crowd. E3 was less than a month away, and I figured that they would showcase the games there. That settled me down for a bit, but then the shit storm came. Draconian DRM policies, no used games, a once every 24 hour check in, no backwards compatibility, the always on Kinect listening and watching you. All of a sudden my rage kicked in. What was Microsoft thinking? For the next three weeks myself, along with the rest of the gaming community, were pissed off at Microsoft and began looking towards Sony for salvation.

When E3 arrived I still wanted to see what Microsoft brought to the table in terms of games. I had my olive branch in hand ready to forgive Microsoft for their stupidity. Hopefully they’ll answer all my burning questions after a nightmare PR statement revealed a week before E3. What they gave me was a 21 gun salute of game after game after game. I was overwhelmed! Titanfall, Dead Rising 3, Halo, Ryse, Crimson Dragon, and more. Microsoft’s show was impressive, but they still didn’t answer the questions that the gaming community wanted answered. Eventually Don Mattrick did answer the question about an always online console. “If you don’t have internet we have a console for you. It’s called the Xbox 360.” Not a good choice of words Don. Oh, and then there was the $499 price tag. This made me anticipate Sony’s press conference just a little bit more.

Once Sony took the stage I knew that I was in for a treat. Sure they talked a bit about entertainment, but this was really a night for the games. Oh, and they also showed the console which looked really sleek. Then again anything would’ve looked better than that Betamax Xbox One. The games were impressive, but what really got me was when Jack Tretton answered every gamer’s questions. No DRM, used games are welcome, I can share my games with anyone, and no 24 hour check in. The crowd erupted in applause, and I had a smile from ear to ear. Then came the bombshell of a $399 price tag. That made me even happier than ever. It also made my decision much easier, because that next morning I pre ordered a PlayStation 4.

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Considering the fact that I’ve been with the Xbox brand for the last decade, the tough decision to return to Sony had me branded as a traitor by some fanboys out there questioning my “loyalty.” Let me state for the record that I have no loyalty to anyone. Before I was playing games on Xbox I had the original PlayStation and the PS2. What I think about is what’s better for me, and Sony impressed me more with the PS4. Sony showed in both their February 20 reveal along with their E3 press conference that they realized they fucked up with the PS3. They also knew that what was important to them was the gamer, so they made a console tailored for gamers. In a way the PS4 is basically the PS2 all over again except for more power and a few new options. It’s simple, it’s cheaper, and I like it.

Now Microsoft may have reversed their policies last week, but this desperate 180 measure is not going to sway me back. The damage was already done. The bridge has been burnt. You just can’t all of a sudden change your policies and expect the masses to run back like the bandwagon Miami Heat fans did during Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Microsoft said that they were listening to their customers. The reality was that they realized they were getting gang raped by Sony in the pre-sale battle. So they abandoned their vision of the Xbox One just to cater to the masses and be just like the PS4 except more expensive and still having that spybot Kinect. Honestly, I think that anyone who all of a sudden crawls back to Microsoft is an idiot. Keep in mind that “Microsoft has the right to change their policies at any time without notice” meaning they could revert to all their original policies again in a few years. Well I don’t need to worry about all that crap, because I’m sticking with Sony.

Now that my decision is made, and my PlayStation 4 preordered for a day one pickup this November, I can finally focus on my next venture. The games. Now what titles should I buy first?

Here I go again. Another year and another review of Madden. Since the Sega Genesis days I’ve spent my hard earned money every year for the new Madden (except for the one year where I bought the greatness that was NFL 2K5). Why? Well that’s because I’m a huge fan of the NFL, and now Madden is the only video game in town where the league still exists. Once I start playing a game I shut out the world around me,  and my mind focuses in only on the action on the screen. Nothing is going to stop me from making that big touchdown pass, getting the all important sack or game changing interception, or winning the Super Bowl. Yes, Madden is that big of a deal.

Now coming into this season something came over me. For the first time in over a decade I wasn’t interested in purchasing the new Madden. Call it blasphemy, but I’m really serious. In last year’s review I was a little disappointed with the game due to shitty commentary and a lack of new features to make the game more “real!” Basically I once again felt like I had a $60 roster update. At E3 I was disappointed with the terrible lag with the Joe Montana check collecting play calling Kinect presentation. I was ready to give up, but part of me said not to, so I bought the game and I’m glad that I did. So let me term this as “EA Sports: Better Than Any Madden Game!”

So where do I begin? Well let’s start with the presentation and commentary. Gone is the boring and broken play by play call of Gus Johnson and Cris Collinsworth who are replaced by Jim Nantz and Phil Simms from CBS Sports. The number one commentary crew on CBS bring more than just new blood. Their calling style is fun and fresh and their interaction works so well with the action taking place on the screen. The CBS style of presentation is also noticed throughout the game with the scoreboard, opening intro, camera angles, and starting lineups presented by Papa John’s who keep telling me about a free pizza, but never seem to send me one. What’s up with that?

The biggest change comes with what was once known as Franchise mode. Well, it no longer exists. Then again neither does Superstar mode either. They’ve now been combined to form Connected Careers. Playing either online or offline I created my own player with Kinect and went through the grueling season gaining wotking mu way up the depth chart and gaining valuable XP. I really enjoyed this mode even though I could only control myself. Of course I can also choose an existing player as well. Coaching was also an available option allowing me to call the shots as well as control the players on the field which makes this option as close to the old Franchise mode as I can get. Honestly, I like the changes here because the old way was getting a little boring.

My personal favorite game mode is still Madden Ultimate Team. The card collecting mode that feels like an RPG hasn’t changed much, but it’s still a blast to play. MUT is more than just a mode to play against friends or the computer. In a way really feels like a Franchise Mode where I can trade buy, sell, and trade off players to help build my team. Rewards are also aplenty here where I had a superstar player to start building my team around (I chose Aaron Rodgers) and there’s multiple challenges to compete for other legendary card bonuses. MUT is where all the fun is, and where I’ll once again spend the majority of my time.

Other than some of the new features, playing Madden is still pretty much the same game. Gameflow is still a good option to utilize although the full playbook is still available. The hit stick function has been slightly improved and still kicks ass. Online play is still fantastic even in co-op, but they still need to find a way to deal with the annoying rage quitters. There are some new animations like “Tebowing” that made it’s way into the game. Sadly, Chad Johnson‘s “head butting” didn’t make the cut.

EA Sports and Tiburon made some key changes making this year’s edition of Madden the best and most authentic version of the NFL experience ever. Then again this is also the biggest overhaul to the gameplay they’ve ever done since gaining exclusivity to the NFL license. Hopefully they don’t decide to slack off after this and go back to the usual $60 roster update. Overall, Madden NFL 13 is must buy for all fans of football in general looking for the most authentic experience.

Developer: EA, Tiburon
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1-6 (Online Multiplayer)
Price: $59.99

GAME STATUS: Saved Princess Daphne using both a controller and Kinect multiple times
ACHIEVEMENTS EARNED: 3 out of 12 (50 Gamerscore)

For my original review of Dragon’s Lair on Xbox Live Arcade click HERE.

For what feels like the millionth time, I’ve stormed the castle, killed countless goons, avoided many traps, and stared at the face of death while constantly dying. All of this for the love of Princess Daphne who I took out on a date on June 19 all for the low price of one achievement and 30 gamerscore. What a deal! I feel so dirty now.

Ever since the release of the classic Dragon’s Lair on Xbox Live Arcade, I’ve been completely addicted to Don Bluth’s animated adventure of the heroic, and yet sometimes clumsy knight, Dirk the Daring. Whether I was jumping around and slashing my arms using the Kinect, or just using the controller when I felt lazy, Dragon’s Lair never had me bored. Never has the thought crossed my mind thinking “haven’t I beat the game over a million times across multiple platforms already? It’s not like anything new is going to pop up.” Of course that’s the moment when I’m not paying attention and unfortunately die…again. Well at least the princess is rather forgiving unlike most women in this world.

With the many times I’ve played I had to come to a conclusion about how I wanted to enjoy Dragon’s Lair on XBLA. Sure it’s billed as a Kinect game, but I really enjoyed it more with the controller. The Kinect was more forgiving with how I approached the game as I jumped around and used some arm movements, yet for some reason I didn’t want to feel like a retard when playing. It just felt too gimmicky. Honestly, Dragon’s Lair was meant for the controller, and it punished me quickly for making a mistake unlike when I used the Kinect. Good thing I had unlimited continues or else this quest would be really short just like when I was at the arcades playing.

SO WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR PRINCESS DAPHNE?

As far as I’m concerned, the evil dragon Singe can continue to kidnap Princess Daphne all he wants, becasue I’ll continue to save her. As I stated before Dragon’s Lair never bored me at all so I plan to continue my quest to save the princess, and continue my “achievement whore” addiction by scoring some much needed achievements by dying. Now if you’ll excuse me, my quest awaits.

Publisher: Digital Leisure
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Players: 1-2
Price: 800 Microsoft Points ($10.00)

Hardcore gaming fans, Microsoft has NOT forgotten about you. After watching the 2012 E3 keynote press conference on Xbox Live it looks like they listened to their customer base and delivered the goods. Games, games, and more games. Of course there was also plenty of Kinect, apps, and the introduction of Smart Glass which looks like a great innovation. More on that in a bit.

So what did I enjoy out of the press conference? Well here is my positives and unfortunate negatives of the big show today.

Halo 4: Kicking off the show was Microsoft’s premiere franchise. Good move, because I didn’t want to see Call of Duty…again. From live action to the gameplay itself Halo 4 looks like it will deliver on it’s promises especially considering the fact that this game is developed by 343 Industries and not Bungie. Master Chief is back! And so is the Battle Rifle. from the campaign footage I saw I can tell you that this game looks awesome. A new enemy joins the fight which had one moment where the chief threw a plasma grenade only to have it thrown back at him. 343 did announce before the show about multiplayer with both competitive and co-op gameplay with Spartan Ops. As of right now this game is living up to it’s tremendous hype.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist: Holy shit Ubisoft I didn’t see this one coming! Sam Fisher is back in a whole new adventure taking place on the Iran/Iraq border where his mission is to prevent the next blacklist attack. In other words it’s more kick ass stealth, interrogation, and execution tactics that I love. Busting through doors and taking out enemies you tracked beforehand in slow motion looked amazing. Kinect voice recognition also played a factor in this game as Sam can get the enemies attention as well as call in an air strike. This is something I’m going to like. Too bad I have to wait until Spring 2013.

Tomb Raider: While I’ve never been really into the Tomb Raider series, the latest gameplay demo for the rebooted origin story for Lara Croft really blew my mind. A mature style Tomb Raider with amazing visuals and combat along with a more realistic feeling. I really liked the outstanding visuals (especially the water effects), the combat, and the destructible environment as it objects would splinter and break from gun attacks. I really enjoyed the cinematic action from the waterfall and parachuting scene where Lara literally fought for her life while going through tremendous pain and suffering. A great demo from Crystal Dynamics and more than likely a buy for me.

Gears of War: Judgement: OK, so this was only a trailer, but the prequel that takes place just after Emergence Day and stars Baird and Cole Train is looking pretty good so far. Too bad I have to wait probably another year to play it. Hopefully this game debuts on the new Xbox with the new Unreal 4 Engine.

Resident Evil 6: Could it be? Another game that feels like a Hollywood blockbuster movie. Leon tore through zombies better than any USS soldier in Operation Raccoon City. No bullet sponge enemies and clunky movements made for some great action. Objects crash and explode along with the zombies that stand in your way from completing each objective. The demo was spoiler free leaving plenty to the imagination.

Xbox Smart Glass: The mere thought of having my Xbox connected with my iPad and iPhone has me excited. From television, to movies, and even my games I can coordinate everything into one smart source. I can be playing a game of Halo 4 and my iPad displays key information of locations and about what I’m doing. My iPhone can be used as a remote control to integrate to the new web browser. Even my Kinect integrates much simpler with Windows 8 for easy web browsing and voice recognition. Full integration begins this Fall.

Other things that interested me included the expansion of ESPN with all channels along with NBA Gametime and League Pass so that I can watch the Miami Heat anywhere when I’m working on the road. South Park: The Stick of Truth has me very interested considering the fact that I’m a big fan of the show. I also liked The Wreckateer which could make for a fun Angry Birds clone with Kinect this summer. Finally, I’m going to keep my eyes on Ascend: New Gods from Signal Studios, LocoCycle from Twisted Pixel, and Forza Horizon which sort of reminds me of a mix of Need for Speed and Test Drive Unlimited.

So here is my list of negatives.

Madden NFL 13: NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana was a great highlight, but the laggy voice recognition controls for calling plays at the line made things look terrible. EA Sports and Tiburon have a lot of work to do to make this feature work seamlessly. August 28 is not that far away so get busy.

Nike + Kinect Training: I’m not going to fault Nike for announcing this innovative product featuring your own personal trainer, development program, and challenging friends on Xbox Live, but I just don’t see a lot of people buying this Kinect based program. Just look back to last year with UFC Personal Trainer. Not everyone has a Kinect and more people would rather just play games or watch movies and sports. Besides most of us all have gym memberships already.

Xbox Music: With so many apps on Xbox Live including last.fm and Pandora already available Xbox Music and it’s 30 million songs to choose from will have a hard time fitting itself in. Also will this be a free service or pay per song like iTunes.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2: Since this series has fallen out of favor with me due to it’s crappy multiplayer filled with cheaters, glitches, and boosters, it would take a lot to bring me back. Activision and Treyarch are taking a big leap here with a future war, but there wasn’t enough here today to sway me back. Zombies will return, but I need more of a reason besides that to make me commit the money. Hopefully I’ll get that answer in the coming months, or else it’s another year of avoidance.

Overall, I enjoyed Microsoft’s presentation for the Xbox 360 for the rest of the year and beyond. No terrible actors, no casual kiddy games taking control of the show, no fist bumping. Microsoft went back to what made them successful since the beginning and left the majority of fans, including myself, happy. Time to get my wallet ready for another busy season.

In just one week, the gaming world will descend on Los Angeles for the 2012 edition of the Electronic Entertainment Expo otherwise known as E3. It’s a week filled with big announcements, parties, and tons of games to play.  Back in 2009, I attended the E3 Expo and had one heck of a good time as I got the opportunity to meet and play some games with some of the big names of the industry. I also remember consuming a ton of alcoholic beverages as well. Still it was a great time that I hope to do again in the future.

Before the big show starts you get the keynote press conferences. Every year I check out the Microsoft press event to see what I can look forward to on the Xbox 360 for the rest of the year and beyond. Some things are rather predictable, but then there are times where they’ll throw in a surprise or two just to keep you on your toes and excited. However, don’t expect any news on a new Xbox console at least until next year. Well it’s time to make my predictions on what I can expect from Microsoft at E3 2012.

Right off the bat I’ll expect a demo of the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. For the past few years it’s been tradition for Microsoft to show off the game especially due to the fact that they have the exclusive rights to have the game’s DLC first before anyone else. Now it’s no surprise that I really have no interest in this franchise anymore, but I have to admit that I did like Treyarch’s previous Black Ops game especially in the single player and zombies mode. Call me slightly interested on this one, because if the campaign looks pretty good and zombies mode returns I might possibly buy this game.

Next up I have 343 Studios showing off the highly anticipated Halo 4. Last year at this time we got a teaser trailer letting us all know that Master Chief is back. I expect a demo of the campaign just to wet the appetite along with showing us some new features. I’m a big fan of the series even though the last two games in terms of the plot was a little far fetched. The multiplayer however is awesome and very addictive. I’m definitely looking forward to this game.

Next up I have Forza Horizon. This is a game that I don’t know much about. All I’ve seen was a teaser trailer with a few exotic cars (including the new Dodge Viper) and a crowd of people partying. So what kind of racing game is this? Arcade or simulation? Hopefully there is an answer on this one.

In the past few years Twisted Pixel has put out some amazing games for both XBLA and for Kinect including the Splosion Man games and The Gunstringer. Microsoft responded by acquiring the development studio. Just before PAX East last month Twisted Pixel hinted at a new game to be announced at E3. I would assume to hear what’s next from the studio during the press conference.

As usual we could expect plenty of Kinect announcements along with a demo or two hopefully free of fist bumping and terrible acting. I’m sure they’ll show  Fable: The Journey and Harry Potter Kinect, but what I really hope to see is Crimson Dragon. This game was worked on by some of the development team behind the Panzer Dragoon series. I know that most people hate the motion controlled add on, but keep in mind that Microsoft also wants to reach out to the casual players.

Finally, we can expect plenty of talk centered around the Xbox Live Dashboard as well as integration with Kinect. I also expect Microsoft to announce some new apps to make the Xbox 360 more than just a gaming console. Honestly, apps don’t concern me as much, because the only apps I really use is Netflix, UFC, and ESPN. I don’t see the need for anything else.

Other Games that may make an appearance include:

Assassin’s Creed 3
Rainbow Six: Patriots
Tomb Raider
Bioshock Infinite
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Rock Band Blitz
Deadlight
Avatar Motocross Madness

Well that’s my predictions for Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference. The spectacular kicks off E3 on Monday, June 4 at 1pm ET/ 10am PT. I’ll be watching this all unfold on Xbox Live, and see if my predictions hold water.

Oh wait…I just remembered. At the end of the show, Microsoft always surprises us with an unannounced game. It’s always a game from a popular franchise. Last year it was Halo 4. This year I have two possible predictions. One would be Left 4 Dead 3, but my money is on a prequel to Gears of War. Pendulum Wars maybe?

I may have tons of shooters, but it’s the tactical shooters that bring out the best in me. Sadly, some people consider Call of Duty a great tactical shooter. I’m sorry, but Call of Duty is a game for little kids who would have no skills and rely on killstreaks that they cheated for just to post some shitty YouTube video that nobody cares about. Others think tactical is “camping out” and sniping from a distance. Again no skills. This is where the Tom Clancy games come in. Games like Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six are more squad-based tactical shooters where you must work as a team in order to survive…and maybe even save the world in the process.

The latest game in the series entitled Future Soldier takes the lessons learned from the Advanced Warfighter games and makes a complete shooter experience which is one of the best that I’ve ever played. The story may be a bit lacking, but I didn’t care because this wasn’t the reason why I bought the game. It was about the overall gameplay and it’s rock solid. Plenty of strategy, guns, action, and shit blowing up all around me and that’s just the main campaign which is only a small fraction of the overall game. It’s almost like a big budget Hollywood movie. What really impressed me is the fact that as you play the objectives change up making you think twice about how to accomplish the mission. The game is not a straight up shooter like other games in the market. Sometimes I had to rely on stealth, using items like sensors and drones, or sync shooting as a team to rid myself of multiple targets to avoid detection. By the way, the active camo is also kick ass.

When I first popped in the game disc, I went right to the multiplayer because I wanted to see how well it played since I didn’t get a chance to try out the beta. I started with Guerrilla which was the equivalent of Gears of War’s Horde mode. First I made my way to the HQ while taking out a few enemies. Then I had to defend it along with receiving new equipment in between waves. Learning where to place items like claymores and sensors made things a little easier in figuring out enemy positions while defending my location. I also played some team-based competitive multiplayer (specifically Conflict) where I had to complete objectives while taking out the opposing team in the process. Once again I used my items to my advantage while gaining kills, points, and even an achievement or two. Strategy plays a huge role in this game which clearly trumps camping and lucky grenades found in Call of Duty. I will make one suggestion out there to all players: Use your headsets and communicate with your teammates or else your going to lose…a lot.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is a blast to play. While it’s still early I can say that I enjoy it just as much as my other shooters including Halo and Gears of War. It looks great, sounds great, and plays great as well. The strategic elements help aid in the gameplay and the multiplayer is awesome. Of course there’s the Kinect features with the Gunsmith option which is pretty cool when I work on upgrades for my weapons as well as other customizations. It’s safe to assume that I found another keeper in my shooter collection. With Future Soldier turning out this good it makes me wonder how the next Rainbow Six game next year is going to be.

Publisher: Ubisoft
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1-12 (online)
Price: $59.99