E3 2011: Microsoft’s Xbox Presser, Live

E3 2011 KICKS OFF TODAY, and Microsoft’s Xbox press conference is about to start. Looks like there’s already been one leak in Halo 4 and an HD remake of the original Halo, but we’ll have to wait for official confirmation sometime in the next 90 minutes. Let’s see how this goes down:

9:31: Live demo of Modern Warfare 3. “Please Reconnect Controller.” This is off to a flying start. The level is set underwater with a SEAL team tracking a sub.

9:37: We’re still going with Modern Warfare 3. They’re in the sub, they’re trying to disable a missile launch. Outside the sub, the view of the city is pretty impressive – aside from the striking image of a city on fire, the entire harbor (and I’m assuming this is supposed to be NYC, but I can’t be sure) is filled with warships. It reminds me of the Pearl Harbor level from Pacific Assault, except outside Manhattan.

9:41: Attack of the Muckety-Mucks! MS VP comes out for the usual introductory schpiel. Innovation! Interactive! We’ve got all the buzzwords you need!

9:43: And now, for … Tomb Raider? Seriously? The second demo of Microsoft’s E3 press conference is for a new Tomb Raider?

9:46: You know, I’ve had it with the water-on-the-camera effect. Yeah, I get that Lara’s in the water and splashing around. I’m still tired of having my view futzed that way. I guess this is Microsoft’s way of saying “if you like Uncharted, we have games like that as well”?

9:49: Peter Moore for EA Sports. Predictably, there’s going to be a Kinect connection for four games: Tiger, Madden, FIFA and one more they’ll reveal later.

9:51: Wow, just like that, Moore is gone, and Ray Muzyka from Bioware is onstage talking about Mass Effect 3. And it’ll support Kinect. Live demo time!

9:56: Ubisoft’s back with a trailer for new Tom Clancy game: Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. This trailer’s kind of fun, with the action frozen and the camera floating around.

9:58: Oh, god, Ubisoft rep. “Hi! I have an impossibly thick French accent and have never given a presentation before.” Thankfully they hand it to a proper demo guy who’s talking about a feature where you can pretty much dismantle a weapon into all its various parts, which the audience is really excited about. And this is somehow connected to Kinect, although I’m not really sure why.

10:01: Xbox Live time. For the 8729th time, we’re going to be shown “an innovative new way to experience entertainment.” I’m not really sure if they’re demoing a new interface, or Kinect, or new partnerships. Well, at least one partnership: YouTube will be integrated into Xbox Live, which is nice, although everything has YouTube integrated these days.

10:04: Ooh, Bing will be integrated into Xbox Live. ZZZzzzzzz.

10:07: “It’s time to come together.” That means it’s time for a casual-oriented trailer showing a couple at home using Xbox Live to browse all their entertainment. Guys, you tell us this EVERY YEAR. You have to actually have to DO IT.

10:08: Dude from the UFC is on stage introducing a new ultimate fighting game. I have to admit, the whole ultimate fighting thing makes me feel old.

10:10: Microsoft’s Phil Spencer comes out to talk about UFC and ESPN and other partners. I have to wonder, does these companies ever care that some of these VP presenter-types come across amazingly slick and borderline creepy? But apparently, from this point on, everything we see will be Xbox exclusive, which should get interesting quick.

10:12: First up, Gears of War 3. A short trailer, and then Cliffy B takes the stage to talk about it. Joining him to play onstage, Gears voice actor Ice-T.

10:15: So far, this all looks like the usual Gears gameplay. Which, for a lot of people, I assume will be great. I enjoyed the first Gears, but didn’t play the second because I’m a PC snob when it comes to any game that involves shooting. But this is a big outdoor boss battle, and looks fun enough.

10:17: Trailer from Crytek: new game called Ryse. Set in Rome, featuring gladiatorial combat, clearly Kinect focused.

10:20: Halo time. First up, the remastered HD version, called Halo: Anniversary. Hey, can they redo the library so it’s not so ridiculously boring?

10:21: Whoops, that’s it for Halo for now. Up next, guy from Turn 10 is talking about Forza Motorsport 4.

10:24: Lionhead’s Peter Molyneux to talk about the next generation of Fable, subtitled The Journey. Gee, I wonder if it will have Kinect support? Let’s see if this trailer tells us.

10:26: Of course it’s Kinect supported, as the demo guy is driving a horse by simulating using the reins and now conjuring magic spells.

10:28: Welcome back, creepy slick VP guy! And he’s talking about … Minecraft, combined with Kinect? That may be the most interesting thing we’ve heard so far.

10:29: This might be the family-friendly part, as Kinect Disneyland Adventures (apologies if I got that name wrong) is announced. It’s a virtual theme park, which I imagine a lot of young’uns might like.

10:33: OK, this has been a pretty bland conference so far, but Microsoft pulls an old trick out of the bag: play the Star Wars theme and people get excited. This is for a new Kinect Star Wars game, where the whole lightsaber thing is a no-brainer.

10:34: I want to congratulate Microsoft and/or LucasArts on not demanding the guy demoing Kinect Star Wars dress up in some hokey Jedi garb. That may have been the best restraint they’ve shown so far today.

10:37: Tim Schafer! And was he introduced by the voice of Cookie Monster? Apparently so, as the game he’s working on is Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster. I just don’t know how to feel about Tim Schafer making a Sesame Street game.

10:42: Welcome, Kinect creative director Kudo Tsunoda, complete in cardigan and sunglasses. I’m sorry, everything about this screams insincerity. It’s impossible to to feel like you’re being held hostage at a sales pitch.

10:44: Wow, when Kudo said “finger tracking,” he did this really creepy thing with this fingers. I say this because, when you see it as an animated .gif on forums for years to come, you’ll know where it came from.

10:45: Seriously, did this other demo guy just say “Kinect, plus finger tracking, equals awesome!” Did HE REALLY JUST SAY THAT OUT LOUD? This is embarassingly bad.

10:49: Kinect Sports, Season 2. You know, if you don’t have a Kinect, this press conference really hasn’t done a great job convincing you you’re missing out.

10:53: Harmonix’s Kasson Crooker, introduces Dance Central 2. No big news there — it was the most successful Kinect game, of course there’s a sequel on the way.

10:55: MS VP guy comes out to wrap up all the stuff we didn’t care about. Bing and YouTube, Kinect Adventures, etc. Let’s see if they save a Halo 4 trailer for a big finish.

10:57: Sure enough, “the dawn of a new trilogy for Xbox 360” – Halo 4 trailer. Holiday 2012.

10:59: And that’s it. Really an underwhelming presentation. Lots of sequels we knew were coming, lots of bland stuff about Kinect and Xbox Live. C+