Highlights from the Toronto Microsoft X’10 Event
Post E3 can be a bit of drought in the video game industry. It’s a time when many studios and gamers take a step back, enjoy the summer, maybe even go on vacation or check out Comic Con. So after several weeks of relatively uneventful breaking news in the video game market, Microsoft’s X10 press event in Toronto was a welcomed occasion.
Xbox Canada puts on the event ever year and it’s an opportunity for those in the media to get some exclusive hands-on time and sneak peeks at a line-up of games coming out throughout the rest of the year. Many of the titles shown off are sure to be on every gamers wish list.
Highlights and Impressions
If you take a peak at the list below, clearly there was a lot on display today and so much to take in. I didn’t get a chance to play everything but most of the major titles I did get hands-on time as well as a chance to speak to the developers who were there. Obviously the big draws were Halo: Reach, Modern Warfare, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Fable III.
Fable III looks incredible. Having missed out on E3, it was my first glimps at the game, and it didn’t disappoint. Keep in mind most of these games are not finished yet and much of what we were shown is still in heavy development or beta. Going from the first Fable game – which was an original Xbox title – to Fable II on the 360, we obviously saw a great deal of difference and advancement in the way the game looked and played. It was less clunky, the light models, engine, and production were much better and the overall appearance pleasing. Even though Fable III is still on the same console as the previous installment, you get the sense that there has been a great deal of advancement and evolution in the franchise. It looks less cartoon and more realistic and vivid. Character models are more in proportion and one of the big things that stood out for me was how fluid the combat is.
If you’re familiar with the franchise you know that the Y, B and X buttons operate your range weapon, magic, and melee. In the previous games, trying to perform a combination of the three skills was not the smoothest. Going from melee weapon to range weapon was sluggish, using magic mixed in with melee didn’t seem rapid enough. At least for me it wasn’t. However in Fable III, I was amazed at how seamless and smooth the transitions were. While being surrounded by a mob of enemy undead, I made quick work of them as I swung away furiously with my hammer, incorporated quick blasts of the fire spell, and without any effort used my range weapon (which was a rifle at the time). It all seemed like a fight scene out of the Matrix or some action packed Hollywood blockbuster. The use of your magic in particular seems to have been greatly improved.
After spending some time with it, Fable III is definitely on the top of my wish list.
Some other games that made an impression were Mortal Kombat, Dead Space 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Mortal Kombat looks awesome and all kinds of fun. If you’re a fan of the series this will be a must have, and even if the last time you played it was on the Genesis, this game might be the perfect excuse to reintroduce yourself again.
Deadspace 2 will bring us back into the suit of our favorite Engineer, Isaac. This time around some things have changed. Dead Space 2 will be faster, feature new weaponry, and 360 zero gravity control. In the first game, while in zero gravity, players were restricted to picking a point on the wall, floor or ceiling and jumping to that point. Now players will have full control in the zero gravity environments. Dead Space 2 is will take place on the planets surface rather than entirely in space. The demo level I played took place at the Church of Unitology. When I questioned the developer about planetary exploration and the ability to travel around the planet, he said he couldn’t comment, but a smirk in his face gave me the impression that on some level this may factor into the game. Dead Space 2 will also, dive more deeply into understanding Isaac character. In the first Dead Space there was very little connection to Isaac’s character. Developers have promised that this will not be the case in the sequel. Dead Space 2 and Assassin’s Creed more than any other games really stood out for specifically their look. The attention to detail, light models and dynamics in both games were so eye-catching. Especially when coming from Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions – which was unfortunately a big let down and unimpressive.
I did get some time to experience Kinect and I am clearly not the target audience, as I can’t see why anyone would pay good money to go down a river in a raft, throw balls against a wall or jump around their living room for three or four hours. I’ve always been rather, meh, when it comes to Kinect, and after playing or experiencing it first hand, I continue to remain, meh. To me it’s like the Wii, great to have when there are people over or at a party but the rest of the time it would sit and collect dust.
During the Kinect demo and presentation I was also shown the new Xbox Live dashboard and changes to the Zune Marketplace. This I was impressed with. The new Zune Marketplace is great. Previously, one of the biggest complaints was that people were unaware of the vast size of the Zune video library. Finding certain titles could, at times, be cumbersome due to the search options available. Now they have streamlined everything, and allowed users to see box art for every single title (not just New Releases) and endlessly scroll through the library. Another great addition is while in the info section of each movie title, a live streaming trailer will automatically begin playing. If you don’t like that movie, scroll to the next title info and a trailer for that film will begin. You can literally go through the entire comedy section and watch trailer after trailer, all from the info section.
As I mentioned before, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood caught my eye. The third addition to the series will take place right where the second game left off. New features added in this game include: multiplayer, taking control of stationary cannons, vertically elevator pulleys that can quickly snap your assassin to the top of high buildings or towers and a more intuitive and offensive enemy AI. Also, Brotherhood will now allow Ezio to recruit and control young assassins and form his own army of loyal followers who he can train and send on missions to increase their skills and level up. During missions when Ezio is in tight spots, with the click of a button one or all of these assassins will swoop in to strategically take out enemies with a variety of kills. This feature looked awesome in the demo and adds another layer of strategy to how you choose your targets or defend from enemies in pursuit.
Speaking of pursuit, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit looks great as well. Kind of has an old school-feel to it but I’m definitely looking forward to getting back behind the wheel in it.
Keep your eye out for Sega’s Vanquish. I played a short demo for it and it has a Gears of War feel to it. The demo had intense combat with fast action and multiple weapons to attack with. Vanquish features a cover system similar to Gears and many of the in-game options that pop up, such as hopping over walls, picking up items or saving enemies is very similar to Gears.
If you have any questions or would like more in depth reviews you can email us at DDGW or you can contact me personally on Twitter @The_GeekJock
The complete X’10 lineup:
DJ Hero 2 – October 19th, 2010 – MSRP: $59.99
Call of Duty: Black Ops – November 9th, 2010 – MSRP: $59.99
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock – September 28th, 2010 – MSRP: $59.99
James Bond 007: Blood Stone – TBA – MSRP: TBA
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions – September 7th, 2010 – MSRP: $59.99
Rock Band 3 – September 7th, 2010 – MSRP: $59.99
NHL 11 – September 7th, 2010 – MSRP: $59.99
Dead Space 2 – January 16th, 2011 – MSRP: $59.99
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit – November 16th, 2010 – MSRP: TBA
Fallout: New Vegas – October 19th, 2010 – MSRP: $59.99
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – November 16th, 2010 – MSRP: $59.99
Vanquish – October 19th, 2010 – MSRP: TBA
F.E.A.R – Q3 2010 – MSRP: $59.99
Mortal Kombat – TBA 2011 – MSRP: TBA
Halo: Reach – September 14th, 2010 – MSRP: $59.99
XBOX LIVE ARCADE
World of Keflings (Ninja Bee)
Ilomilo (Microsoft Games Studio)
Hydrophobia (Blade Interactive)
Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley (Twitsted Pixel)
Raeskulls (Halfbrick Studios)
Super Meat Boy (Team Meat)
MICROSOFT GAME STUDIOS
Fable III – October 26th, 2010 – MSRP: TBA
Kinect Adventures – November 4th, 2010 – MSRP: TBA
Kinectimals – November 4th, 2010 – MSRP: TBA
Kinect Joy Ride – November 4th, 2010 – MSRP: TBA