This year's Xbox 360 showcase in San Francisco lacked some of the lustre of its predecessor. Last year, journalists were given - amongst other things - a brand-spanking new Gears Of War game to play, a hands-on with Child of Eden, and the first major reveal of Batman: Arkham City.
This year's event had very little to compare with all that. Journalists were shown some footage from Halo 4 then had most of their questions about what players can expect from the game roundly deflected by 343 Industries. Turn 10 unveiled the trailer for a brand new Forza title, but gave absolutely no other details about it; if the trailer is to be believed, players might spend their time in Forza Horizon driving to a Chemical Brothers concert somewhere out in the desert. On the show floor, the best playable Xbox 360 exclusive core game was Gears Of War 3's new map pack.
All in all, it was a bit flat. Sure, Peter Molyneux gave what would be his last ever demo as the boss of Lionhead Studios, but no one realised it was happening at the time. On the day, all journalists had to report on were a couple of announcements, some featurette footage on Halo 4 and a dancing mini-game in Kinect Star Wars. In the absence of any meaningful reveals on killer core exclusive Triple A IPs, the Xbox 360 showcase was seemingly looking to its Kinect and XBLA titles to carry the showcase.
But this is where things got a little more interesting, because some of the Kinect titles on show weren't actually half bad. The established franchises on the floor weren't all that head-turning; whether you're interested in the new Tiger Woods PGA for Kinect or the DLC for Kinect Sports: Season 2 and Dance Central 2 most likely depends on whether you're already on board with those games. However, four Kinect titles - three of which were making their hands-on debuts - seemed less like tech-demos for the hands-free interface, and more like high-end titles aimed squarely at core players.
Molyneux's demo for Fable: The Journey set out the Kinect stall early. The then-Lionhead Studios head pulled a neat trick by having one of the journalists in attendance take control of the game for the duration of the demo, in order to show the rest of the audience that nothing on the screen was pre-scripted. For roughly ten or so minutes, CVG watched a fellow hack steer the game's horse, conjure up blasting magical attacks with their right hand, and use tendril-grabbing magic with their left.
The demo wasn't flawless; we all still belive Fable: The Journey is on rails, and Molyneux's insistence that players will come to love their in-game's equestrian ally sounds slightly dubious. But the game's controls look fun, the binary aspect of the Fable franchise seems intact, and Molyneux hinted that moral conundrums will certainly be a part of the gameplay. It's just a pity that some of the demo was less show and more tell.
This certainly wasn't the case with Diabolical Pitch, a game that seemed initially to be both easy and repetitive, but after the difficulty level was cranked a notch, it became downright layered. The set-up is, quite frankly, nuts and this should come as no surprise give that it's the brainchild of Suda 51 and Grasshopper Product.
Diabolical Pitch stars a major league baseball pitcher called McAllister who, in the game's opening cinematic, blows out his pitching arm during a World Series game. Not long after that. a twist of fate sees McAllister battling humanoid monsters with animal heads on a burnt-out fairground using a bionic arm to serve up all manner of pain from a pitching mound.
We told you this was a Suda 51 game, remember?