Xbox highlights at E3 - Cowboys, Jedi knights and horse sweat: what’s not to like?

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

David Phelan reports on highlights for the Xbox from LA’s E3 conference.

The orcs, babes and jawas are milling around Los Angeles again. It can only mean that the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, is in town. The annual videogames conference is jammed with eager gamers queuing to play previews of new titles while provocatively dressed actors seek to grab your attention.

Meanwhile, games makers had plenty to announce, with some of the most innovative titles coming from Microsoft. The most recent update to its Xbox 360 is the Kinect which launched last November: a depth-sensing 3D camera and microphone which tracks movement as you stand in front of it. Instead of mashing buttons on a controller, you wave, jump, run and nod at the screen and the game responds to your every move. It’s an amazingly intuitive system that makes gaming immersive and involving.

This year, Kinect games are everywhere. Standouts include “Kinect Star Wars”, where you can fulfil your dream to be a Jedi Knight and swing a light sabre, complete with the buzzing swoosh familiar from the films. Channeling the force to lift objects, deflect bullets and more is hugely enjoyable – expect it to be a big hit later this year.

Elsewhere, Kinect titles showed great imagination, with “Gunstringer”, a cartoony western-set title with unusual interface – you act as the puppeteer working a cowboy puppet. It comes from Twisted Pixel Games, whose “ ‘Splosion Man” remains one of the most fun Xbox games of recent years.

The super-realistic driving game, “Forza Motorsport” has reached its fourth episode and looks finer than ever. It has an improved lighting system which makes it more naturalistic and convincing. And you can use a controller or the Kinect mechanism to steer with your hands held on an imaginary steering wheel.

Perhaps the best Kinect implementation – and one of the real standout games of the show – is “Fable The Journey” from Brit super-creator Peter Molyneux. For much of the game you interact with a horse pulling your cart, using your hands on imaginary reins to guide him, swishing a virtual crop to speed him on. Because the Kinect has a microphone, you can speak to the game: clicking your tongue encourages him, “Whoa” slows him down. Molyneux told us that he was devising the game so the horse would only respond to one person’s voice.

He also said that a crucial element was that the sorcery part of the game should be “magic your way”. So you can cast spells against enemies with a carefully placed flick of the wrist as you recline on the sofa, but if you really want to get into the game, jumping to your feet to engage in magical combat gives you a gentle increase in effectiveness.

Molyneux is known for free-ranging games with extraordinary attention to detail. “We have horse sweat technology so if you whip the horse he’ll start to perspire. I wanted to have more details of the horse’s biology, with other material released from the horse’s bottom, but there was a push back from the other developers in my team, so we dropped that.” Since the most frequent view of the horse is from behind, maybe that’s for the best.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Credit Controller

    £20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful candidate will h...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

    SThree: Trainee Recuitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn