It's over. It's done. The green bulbs have been taken out of the light sockets, and replaced with the usual yellow. What follows are a collection of thoughts, some angry and some elated, on the relative successes and failures of the Microsoft 2011 E3 press conference.
For the full run-down on the announcements click right through on this here link, otherwise... read on.
So much... Kinect...
It cannot be denied that by the end of the MS conference we were flinching at each and every mention of Kinect. Yes, some hardcore games look to be using the technology well and kids will enjoy much of it. As the green lights went up at the end of the show, however, the CVG office had already built gruesome effigies of the clean-cut actors hired to wave their hands around, and look like tools, on-stage. Someone had already set the one of the kids playing the Disneyland game ("We'll get those other coins next time!") on fire.
For a start it's great to giggle at the phrase 'Our new game - Tomb Raider', but beyond that the game looks bold, striking and darkly beautiful. We're not usually the types who like to see women knocked around, obviously, but the brutal bone-crunching treatment given to Lara is a stark departure for the series.
What's more the dynamics of spreading fire to solve puzzles, and the flame effects as her torch flickers against low ceilings, is utterly fantastic. There was a real feeling of the film The Descent throughout the game's showing, especially in the final ascent to the surface and, despite this section's linearity, it left us gasping for more. And Lara? Well she gasped, shrieked, moaned, groaned and made all manner of unladylike noises. We'd pay good money to attend one of her recording sessions.
No alarms and no surprises
Much as it's wonderful to have a sly giggle at Microsoft accidentally pressing the big red button that released news of Halo 4 et al. to the world several hours early, it sure as hell siphoned the adrenalin from our happy-glands. The Halo 4 reveal itself should have been epic - instead it showed that Master Chief is still alive, that Cortana needed help and... well... here we go again...
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
How could we resist that trailer when placed alongside the brilliant, brilliant accent of Ubisoft head honcho Yves Guillemot? That man's so French he probably has the word 'Bof' tattooed on his thigh. The paused-battle fly-by camera movie was epic, while the Kinect integration in the gun creation suite (while simple) was stark, bold and beautiful. It had a real 'Guns. Lots of guns.' Matrix feel - and the weapons themselves looked stunningly realised.
Needless Kinect integration
Sure, it's a clever feature - but do you think, in a million years, that you'd ever read Shepherd's response options out loud while playing Mass Effect 3? A button tap is not only quicker and easier, but it won't make your cat and/or real-life love interest stare at you as if you're mental either.
Likewise, the vocal orientation around the new TV options is a great trick (and presumably fantastic for disabled 360 owners) but just because it's another step closer to Back to the Future Part Two doesn't mean the majority of gamers will use it. At the same time, though, it'll be a laugh to shout "Xbox! Bing! Goatse!" when you're visiting friends and then run out of the room.