The lights are on
Microsoft kicked off its E3 festivities tonight with what it
dubbed an "Experience Project Natal" event. After waiting in several lines and being given
altar boy-like robes to wear, we watched in awe as Cirque Du Soleil
demonstrated the newly named Kinect. And boy, was it an experience.
The event took place in the Galen Center, just a few blocks
away from the Convention Center. Outside, weird dancers (pictured above) danced
to the beating of giant drums. Eardrum-shattering noises was one of the
recurring themes of the night, as it apparently captures the excitement of
showing off new technology better than noises made at a comfortable volume.
Inside the theater we were given white robes to wear with
giant shoulder pads. It turns out there were lights inside the pads, which
would later blink in unison during the performance. I tried to take a picture
of the robes, but was scolded by one of the ushers.
After being seated, we waited for about an hour while Cirque
Du Soleil performed in the center of the auditorium, where some of the other
attendees were allowed to walk around. The performances were equally divided
between genuinely entertaining acrobatics, and annoyingly over-the-top circus
shenigans. Overhead there were giant screens circling the auditorium, that
showed Microsoft Avatars walking around. There was also a family sitting on a
couch suspended in the air. Hey, what do you expect? It's Cirque Du Soleil.
Once the show began, a giant fake elephant walked
in, ushering what the announcer described as the newest advancement of
(those are my words, but the hyperbole was on the same level).The elephant was by far the coolest part of the evening, and we even have a picture of it thanks to a USB stick we were given after the event.
Along with the elephant, a bunch of people danced wildly to
ridiculously loud music. Then a boy climbed up some rocks which served as
stepping stones in gaming history. Atop each rock he would play a game, before
climbing to the next as a fiery explosion burst across the screen. On the last
rock, he shed his controller - it was time for Natal - err, Kinect. The Xbox sphere ascended to a family waiting
in a fake living room. What ensued was pure madness.
The family played through various games, which you can read
about in our other articles (Dance Central, Kinect Sports, Kinectimals, and Star Wars). All I can say is the over-the-top expressions of the
family were as surreal as anything the french circus troop has ever presented
to the world.
Then the faux living room turned upside down, with the people
still on the couch, now hanging in midair. A floor rotated open, and another
family was sitting rightside up. Then our shoulder pads then started blinking, like
individual neurons firing in the massive brain of Microsoft's PR department.
There was too much insanity to document everything that
happened, but it ended with Microsoft Avatars flying through space on the
screens above us, their little cartoon arms stretched out, their faces
plastered with expressions of wonder as fake as the model families'. As an
introduction to my first E3 ever, it left quite an impression. As soon as
it ended the Game Informer crew also flew into the starry night, our shoulder
pads still blinking a rainbow of colors, until we ditched them in a bin near
the exit. We all silently made a pact to never speak of the event again, which is
just as well, since words can't really describe it anyway -- like all life-changing events, you had
to experience it for yourself.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.