E3 2009: Big 3 Press Conferences – Microsoft Impressions

We are currently halfway through day two of E3 2009, but we have already heard a great deal of the major announcements as they were all covered in the press conferences by the big three, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. There were a number of exciting software and hardware announcements from each of the companies, ensuring that 2009 looks like a great time to be a gamer.

I will be writing up impressions of each of the main press conferences, starting with Microsoft’s.

Microsoft

Microsoft kicked things off yesterday morning (or afternoon, if you were in the UK like me) with an excellent showcase of its software line up. The event was one of better press conferences that they have held in recent years, gone was the heavy focus on statistics and a focus on only the games coming out this year (which, whilst it got you excited for the fall/winter period it inevitably left the following year looking rather empty) and instead we were bombarded by game after game.

Things kicked off with a trailer for the new The Beatles Rock Band game, it showed some great attention to detail, showing some great songs and set pieces. Following the trailer, we were treated to harmonix employees demonstrating the game and announcing some of the games 45 songs. They were replaced onstage by Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison who talked briefly about the game, only to be replaced by the remaining Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. They talked briefly about the game, talking about how they never thought they’d see the day when they were made into ‘androids’.

Next up was Tony Hawk showing off the new peripheral based game with his name attached, Tony Hawk RIDE.  The game looked alright, but I can’t imagine how fun it will be, to be honest it looked like a bit of a novelty.

Once the stage was clear again, it all went dark and we were treated to a new trailer for Modern Warfare 2 (COD4 – 2) which looked very impressive and cinematic, showing off some new scenes as well as scenarios shown in the previous teasers/trailers. Following the trailer, there was a live game play demonstration that showed an ice hill side and had you covertly scaling it in a scene reminiscent of the Stallone classic ‘Cliff Hanger’. After a bit of sleathy game play, similar to that of the ‘All Ghillied Up’ demo from 2 years previous for COD 4, we were skipped forward to a more action packed sequence, ending in a snow mobile chase that just looked amazing. Finishing off the section was a small mention of a feeble exclusivity, the news that 2 map packs for MW2 would be coming to Xbox 360 first.

Next, following up on last years shock announcement that Final Fantasy XIII will be coming to Xbox 360 day and date with the PS3 version in the western market, we were shown the first gameplay footage of the game running on Xbox hardware. We weren’t shown anything that hasn’t been seen in the recent PS3 demo apart from a new summon, the purposed of the demo seemed, in my mind, to be just proof that the game will look just as good on the Xbox 360.

Next up was a couple of XBLA releases, the first being a graphically impressive ‘Metroid-vania’ style action game from Epic studios, Shadow Complex, and an arcade style kart racer featuring avatars, Big Park Live. Both of these games show some promise, with Shadow Complex showing some excellent production values and promising a 10 hour + campaign, making it comparable to most modern retail releases, and
Big Park Live being made available for free in a fashion similar to that adopted by Korean MMO developers.

Next we were treated for two trailers to unannounced games, Crackdown 2 and Left 4 Dead 2. I am really excited at the new of a new Crackdown game because while I initially bought it for the entry into the Halo 3 Beta, it became one of my favorite 360 games of the time. Left 4 Dead 2 was a bit of a disappointing announcement, as well as surprising. It was surprising because the last game has only been out for 8 months, and disappointing because it pretty much guaranteed that we will not be seeing an future substantial DLC for the first game.

Next up, a live demonstration of the, longtime silent, Splinter Cell sequel, Splinter Cell: Conviction. The demo showed off a much grittier and real-life setting than the previous games, and it has made me interested in actually playing the game, even though I have never been captured by the previous titles hype. We are told that the game is out this fall, and available exclusively on Xbox 360.

Forza 3 was the next game on show, in what has been a terribly kept secret, as the game has been know about for a few months now after the logo was spotted at various foreign press events. The game looks graphically very impressive and as always the car customization feature looks excellently fleshed out and comprehensive, allowing your creative mind to go wild. The game is out this October.

We were then shown an in depth look at Halo 3:ODST, game which is getting better every time we see it. This game was initially announced as a small scale game, an expansion almost to Halo 3, but it has since expanded and looks to be shaping up very nicely into a great full price retail release, which incidentally will include a beta code for the next game that was announced. A new Bungie Halo game! Halo Reach. We are shown a trailer, that doesn’t show us very much apart from some voice over work. The game will apparently follow the story of the first Halo novel, but nothing else about the game is know at this time.

Allan Wake is the next game up on the big screens, a game that has been silent for a few years now, with no new information being released. We are taken through a very impressive live demo of the game, which starts off with a tv show styled intro, which seems worryingly similar to last years Alone in the Dark game. The demo showed off some stunning physics, graphics and lighting effects, really wowing the crowd.

Now there is a bit of break in the onslaught of games to talk about some other features that are coming to the console.
First up is Last.fm integration, which was very welcome news to me as I have been a user of the service for 3 years or so at this point.
Next is confirmation of the Sky announcement that was made a few days ago, and actually cover on this blog.
After that, news that Facebook and Twitter integration are on their way to Xbox Live, which is very welcome to news as everyone enjoys keeping in contact with their friends and family, you might even be able to find out if some of your friends are closet gamers like yourself.

The games are back in focus again now, with an announcement which everyone thought was going to be a lot bigger than it turned out to be. The news was the MGS was finally coming to 360, although it turned out not to be the oft rumored port of Guns of the Patriots, but instead a new game based on Raiden, which despite how it was presented in the presentation is actually a multi-platform release.

The conference was brought to a close with the ‘surprise’ announcement of ‘Project Natal’, a 3D motion sensing camera with facial and limb recognition that despite some initial skepticism turned out to show some real promise and the demo reel showed some possibilities and set everyone minds racing as to its possible applications. We nearly have the computer systems shown to us in Minority Report, hopefully the thought police won’t follow.

Overall

Overall Microsoft have given us an excellent press conference, and have set the bar very high. Sony and Nintendo will have to pull out something special to top this. What are everyone else s thoughts on this?

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~ by rusted3572 on June 2, 2009.

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