The Microsoft Keynote at E3 this year was a bit different than last years. Not as exciting but still packed a punch with some sweet Xbox Live announcements and a ton of game related announcements, almost all of which were designed for the Kinect. This really is the year of the Kinect so I'm going to take a moment and highlight some of the most exciting ones.
I suppose Microsoft had it right by starting off with the one major title which wasn't specifically designed for Kinect. That of course is the new Tomb Raider from Crystal Dynamics. Basically, Laura is shipwrecked on an island and has to use her skills to escape. The game seems very gritty and starts off with Laura getting impaled by a sharp bone fragment after falling 30 ft. The interactions at first are at key moments of the opening scene as most of this sequence played out like a movie. Her "survival instincts" light up pieces of the environment that you can use, kind of like in Mirror's Edge but not as obvious. The scenes are very intense and there is a boulder chase that is reminiscent of Indiana Jones. At the end she makes it out of the caves to an ocean view of shipwrecks. There isn't a lot more to say at this point but the availability is set for fall 2012.
Get more on the newly revealed Kinect titles by hitting the break, because you know you want to.
Now getting into the long list of Kinect titles, I have to mention Mass Effect 3. Like the previous games in the series, you are Sheppard who is immersed in the same sci-fi universe but this time there is some voice recognition built into the game. For example, you can actually read the dialog options for conversation in the game like you are talking to who or whatever else is at the other end of the conversation. You can also command your AI team with your voice as well. It seemed to work very well in the demo and I'm looking forward to getting back into the franchise.
Continuing along with the FPS series it wouldn't be right to leave out Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier. Kinect comes to play here in a big way. Now, you are able to completely customize your weapon down to the inner workings - but wait, there's more! You can customize your weapon completely using Kinect motion and voice. Besides moving parts with your hands there are preset voice commands like 'randomize' and 'short range combat' that changes the gun for you. Your interaction with the interface in the game actually works together very well. There was a short opening that showed the soldier fielding some awesome new gadgets but no information on a release date.
Bringing up the rear in the FPS category is my personal favorite Gears of War 3 .It didn't get a lot of air time but we did get to see Design Director of Epic Games Cliff Bleszinski, who in my heart is still Cliffy B, along with Ice-T play some co-op and frag up some giant lambent creature. Good times. I'm looking forward to seeing more of this in the future.
Fans of any other genre don't need to feel isolated. A couple other game studios figured out Kinect can do more than help you kill things that are different from you. Take for example, Forza Motorsport 4, which showcased your ability to control the cars with Kinect voice and motion tracking. The look is still clean and intensive just like the last iteration in the series. Racing fans can rejoice at the Kinect's arrival to the genre.
With the racing genre come and gone there are a couple kids' games worth noting. Kinect Disneyland Adventures is sure to be a hit with kids whose parents care enough to spend time with them. Essentially, they virtualized Disneyland and its inhabitants that you can interact with using Kinect. It actually looks like fun but only if you play it with a kid. Don't have a kid? There are ways to get one. Ask your mom.
Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster is the same concept as Kinect Disneyland Adventures but Sesame Street, moving on. Kinect Star Wars rounds out the games tailored to the young crowd and is very Clone Wars with its look and feel. There was a variety of battlefields in the game that take you from space, to a pod race, to epic Jedi light saber battles. The light saber and force powers can be completely controlled by motion and voice commands like, 'Light saber, on!' With this game, the Force isn't with you, it is you.
Wrapping things up here with Dance Central 2 sounds good since we're all worked up after all this awesomeness. Just a couple of things to note here. You will be able to port old songs in from the last game and there will be more content available than ever before. Of course this is a Kinect game that takes full advantage of the device and looks like a tremendous amount of fun. If FPS's can do it, a dance game better be able to.
Even if you exclude a couple of things that didn't make it in here, I would say that the variety of games definitely displayed appeals to pretty much anyone from ages 4 to 60. Actually some older people do get into some of the sports and kids games, I've seen it. So I'm going to extend that age range from 4 to 100. For more in-depth coverage on all this and more check out PLuGHiTz Live! Radio Episode 205 and don't be afraid to tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.