Microsoft E3 Press Conference Roundup

Rushed home today and made it just in time for Microsofts press conference at this years E3. Due to technical issues on a number of sites(Gametrailers = No Sound, XBox.com = Dead) I didn’t manage to tune in until roughly 10mins into the presentation and missed Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr showing off Beatles Rock Band. Following is a quite writeup of all the cool stuff in order of appearance. Also check out my twitter for the real time ramblings!

Tony Hawk Ride
Looked pretty fun, can guarantee i’d still manage to hurt myself somehow. Was also kinda rendered redundant an hour later by Natal(see below)

Modern Warfare 2
What more needs to be said? Infinity Ward are masters of their art! Shown off was a sizeable chunk of playtime through an atric level, some on foot, some on snowmobile, all awesome!

Final Fantasy XIII
The web stream did not do this justice, but it still looked absolutely sublime. Battle system looks amazing! we got a sneak peek of a boss who felt like a spiritual successor to the Scorpion Guard from FFVII, and also a look at Odin which was all sorts of awesome! No word on how many discs this monster will be though 🙂

Xbox Exclusives

Shadow Complex
Epics first XBLA game, introduced by none other than Cliffy B himself(sporting an awesome Bill Gates mugshot tee) this game is a side scroller with alot to owe to classics like metroid. Looks like a hell of a lot of fun. And despite being a side scroller its still built in Unreal Engine 3!

Joy Ride
A free avatar based XBLA racing game, looks like Microsofts answer to Mario Kart, but any game with VW Campers can’t be bad!

Crackdown 2!
They sure kept this one quiet! only a trailer showed off for this one of an agent bounding over rooftops and then fighting an unrevealed monster. Much more realistic art style this time, cannot wait.

Left 4 Dead 2
More zombie carnage from valve! Trailer showed off what appeared to be New Orleans as the setting setting. Melee weapons to use this time around.

Splinter Cell: Conviction
This game has changed tons since it was last showcased. Gone is Sam’s silly emo hair and general hobo demeanour, he’s a man on a mission and a brutal one at that. Chanelling the fantastic Punisher game from the last generation this game looked fantastic. Mission objectives and the like are projected on the scenery around Sam – so you’re never pulled out of the action. We’re promised sandbox style gameplay for each area allowing you to choose how to proceed – done right that could make this one of the best games in a long while.

Forza Motorsport 3
I’m not a massive racer fan but I have to say this game looked amazing, and the video editor showcase produced some awesome results, will no doubt be massive.

Halo: ODST
Set between Halo’s 2 and 3, this game places you as an ODST(Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) – a far more human character than the Spartan we’re used to handling. Graphics looked like they’ve had a nice touchup, and a new hud and supressed weaponry look like they’ll make this a different pace of game to. You’ll play as a nu,ber of ODST’s in this game, following each of their stories to piece together the overall tale. Sounds alot more story driven than any of the other Halo’s and I always felt that was something they lacked so here’s hoping for this one. Oh and the Halo 1 pistol is back too, sweet!

Halo: Reach
There were rumors of this floating around and i’m so glad it’s true!Based around the fall of Reach – the Spartan training colony, Reach will be set before all of the previous games telling of the tragic massacre of this base which the Pillar of Autumn is seen fleeing at the start of the first game. Only a quick trailer for this but it looks epic. Beta keys for the multiplayed of this will be given out with ODST.

Alan Wake
Was starting to think this guy had joined our friend Duke as vapourware 🙂 Lots of gameplay showed off for this one – looks like the game Alone in the Dark should’ve been. Loved Alan’s monologue which guides you through the game and fits perfectly with the idea of him being a writer. Still though, it’s release is scheduled for 2010 so it’s a long way off yet 🙁

Media & Social Networking

Sadly no announcement for a UK version of Netflix was announced, but they were massively talking up the SKY tv deal which is big to be sure, but largely pointless for people like me stuck on freeview. The amount of video available is due to grow massively as part of the Zune brand becoming part of marketplace. A partnership with lastfm was also announced which is cool, but i’m worried the poor old UK internet infrastructure can’t take this kind of pummelling. Facebook and twitter are also coming to the 360 so it’s official, you don’t need a pc anymore 😛

MGS: Rising

Hideo Kojima himsef took to the stage to announce this one! Quite possibly the subject matter of this viral countdown Metal Gear Solid Rising is a brand new addition to the franchise… and you play as Raiden. Not too sure about that one – the flashings of a younger Big Boss on the site had filled me with high hopes for this being maybe a remake of the MSX classics. I have faith in Hideo so let’s wait and see if the site reveals more (although I imagine it’ll just be the teaser again). Sadly no announcement of MGS4 for 360, making the second edition on PS3 seem more likely – i’m sure Hideo has some big announcements for the PS3 crowd later in the week.

Natal

Microsofts fabled Wii-competition really was something else! Using an advance camera to read and track movements Natal literally uses you as the controller. This was showcased firstly with a cheesy video of a family fighting and playing a racing game where family members acted as the pit crew. It looked amazing but i’m not sure about the total lack of a controller – there’s something about the lack of some kind of tactile control which weirds me out.

Other abilities of this system include voice recognition – showcased in a Buzz style quiz and object recognition – demonstrated by a kid scanning a skateboard and then using it ingame – which begs the question – what’s the point of shelling out for Tony Hawk Ride?

As if we weren’t on the road to being convinced, out comes Stephen Spielberg! He gushed with genuine enthusiasm for the Natal project, calling it a landmark innovation on par with Cinemascope and IMAX! Looking forward to seeing some Speilberg projects on the 360 soon.

Next Natal was demoed working with the Xbox dashboard, using the camera it auto recongised the user and picked their avatar accordingly, simple hand and body gestures then allowed him to navigate through the menus, it all looked nice and easy – don’t want to be tired before you even get in the game! A fun looking ricochet game was shown off next in real time to prove the system works – was fun looking, bit like breakout but you’re the paddle! Finally a paint game was show off, using hand gestures to throw paint against a huge canvas, the presenters creating an endearingly crappy landscape and elephant 🙂

Last but not least Peter Molyneux took to the stage to make some outrageous promises as he always does! This time they revolved around this freaky sim child called Milo, the demo (pre recorded) showed a woman interacting with him through speech and gestures. There were some cool moments like when she drew a picture and held it up to the camera, which then transferred it into Milos world. Apart from a nice tech demo it was just a bit damn scary and without a realtime demo i’m not sure how much of this was scripted.

All in all this was an amazing presentation from Microsoft, alot of big names and a really strong lineup for the coming year, it’s going to be tough to be but i’m sure Nintendo and Sony have something up their sleeves!

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