While there were few surprises or major new hardware reveals at Microsoft's E3 2011 press conference, there were more than enough new exclusive AAA-games, Xbox Live services and interestingly-novel Kinect experiences to wow the industry and media crowd gathered in LA this week to hear about the future of Xbox gaming.
Some gamers have been quick to note that talk of "the future of PC gaming" was conspicuous by its absence (with a blinkered/laser-like focus on Xbox 360 and Kinect), yet Microsoft and its various development, publishing and licensing partners have unarguably revealed and demonstrated a solid range of new games and entertainment offerings at E3 2011.
So here are the definitive top five Microsoft moments from E3 2011:
1.New Halo and COD: understanding the core market
It was both a relief and a pleasure to see Microsoft's E3 press conference top-and-tailed with a mind-blowing demo of one of the most-highly-anticipated games of the year (COD: Modern Warfare 3) and a teaser of what is highly likely to be one of 2012's most-highly-anticipated games (Halo 4).
Halo 4: biggest game announcement of E3 2011?
2.Gears of War 3
Love it or loathe it, you cannot argue that Epic's latest outing in its stealthy and futuristic muscle-man shooter series is one of the biggest gamer's games at this year's E3. To prove how hardcore the game is, none other than Ice-T was wheeled onto Microsoft's E3 stage to play and demo the new game with feted developer Cliffy B.
Gears of War 3: Big men with big muscles and massive guns
3.The new Xbox experience
Microsoft made a big show of pushing the potential of the future of voice control via Kinect on the Xbox 360 at this year's E3, stressing at every possible opportunity that gamers will very soon be able to play games, listen to their favourite tunes or watch movies or live TV via their Xbox with no need to use a controller or press any buttons.
This 'new Xbox experience' is marked by voice-control of online video via YouTube and Microsoft's search engine Bing, along with live TV access to news, sports and "your favourite local channels" and is set to arrive later this autumn. Expect lots more details on this in the coming months.
Say what you want: voice controlled search via MS Bing on Xbox 360 soon
4.Kinect for proper gamers
We all knew that Microsoft needed to make a play for the hardcore crowd with Kinect, with many seasoned gamers still finding it difficult to see why they might want to invest in something that strikes them a little more than "a glorified Wii" control scheme.
Yet with head-tracking and voice control built into the forthcoming Forza 4 - and some innovative-looking Kinect control mechanics being developed for Peter Molyneux's new game, Fable: The Journey - 2011 could well prove to be the year when seasoned petrolheads and RPG-fans accept that motion-control is just another cool way of making the gaming experiences they love just that little bit better.
Forza 4: set to use voice control and Kinect head-tracking to aid gameplay
5.Kinect Fun Labs
Sequels to Kinect Sports and Dance Central were welcome (and inevitable), and both Kinect Disneyland Adventures (a virtual tour of Disneyland) and Kinect Star Wars showed off what Microsoft can do by bringing together Kinect with such "major entertainment properties"- yet it was Kinect Fun Labs that really indicated that MS still has its finger on the pulse.
Kinect Fun Labs: one of the more left-field announcements from Microsoft at E3 2011
Kinect designer Kudo Tsunoda showed off Kinect Fun Labs – already up now on Xbox Live – with cool-looking demos such as (instant avatar creator) "Kinect Me" and (virtual finger tracking) "Kinect Sparkler" drawing gasps from those in the crowd that realised how clever the tech behind the magic being shown on stage actually was.
For the full details on all of the above (and everything else that Microsoft announced at E3), you can read our full news run-down of the Microsoft E3 2011 presser right here.
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