At E3 2009, the first day of exhibition always has the Microsoft press conference. After this year, I believe that may be the only press conference. Microsoft has revolutionized gaming in a way that will put it out in front of it's competitors if something more innovated isn't brought up at the other conferences. First some pre-conference ideas about what might have happened, vs. what really happened:
- The Red Ring of Death (RRoD) is a very big problem, even today. Microsoft did not include anything in their press conference as I had thought they would about the Red Ring.
- Can ODST live up to Master Cheif's Halo 3? I believe it can, you can read about it later in the Article.
- Gears of War 2: All Fronts Vs. Halo 3: ODST
- All Fronts includes all of the Multiplayer DLC, and a new campaign level, but ODST includes a brand new campaign, and all of the downloadable DLC, giving Halo 3: ODST the upperhand. Also included with ODST is the multiplayer beta code for Halo: Reach
- There was speculation at a new Zune announcement, and well, there was... but it wasn't the announcement they were thinking it was.
Now, it is time to get in-depth with what really happened at the conference:
Microsoft (XB360) Press Conference
The press conference started out with a cinematic, which was later to be dubbed as the intro to Rock Band: Beatles. They also announced ten of the songs that will be featured on Rock Band: Beatles at launch. Those ten are:
- I saw her standing there
- I want to hold your hand
- I feel fine
- Day Tripper
- Tax Man
- I am the Walrus
- Back in the U.S.S.R.
- Octopus's Garden
- Here Comes the Sun
- Get Back
Also, Yoko Ono Lennon, Paul Mcartney, and Ringo Starr made an appearance, where Ringo was quoted saying: "The game is good, the graphics are good, and we are awesome". It was also announced that the first Album available for download will be Abbey Road, and it will be soon after the release of RB:B.
After the Beatles, was the Media Breifing with John Schappert
The main idea behind the media breifing was to enlighten gamers with ways that they can play video games, watch movies, and connect with friends, all from the privacy of their own home. With games being first on the Agenda there were ten spotlight titles that were featured in this breifing, including seven all-new, X-Box 360 exclusive titles.
Tony Hawk: Ride
When Tony Hawk made his way on stage the thoughts going through my head were, "Oh wow, how are they going to pull off another Tony Hawk game that actually sells?" There has been a drought of good Tony Hawk games, and I really wasn't interested in another one, until Tony Hawk: Ride came on screen. They created a skateboard peripheral that is the nerd equivalent to an actual skateboard. The board rests on the ground, but there is infared sensors on the sides that makes the board respond to grabs, the motion involved with moving the board, and there is also motion sensitivity when you ollie the bord. Also, there is a variety of difficulties, so if you've never been on a skateboard before, you can play as a beginner, all the way to the highest if you are a skateboarding pro. My first impression is four stars, with the controller being a majority of those stars, and the fact that it is the best looking Tony Hawk game to date.
Modern Warefare 2
Modern Warefare 2 is Infinity Ward's much anticipated follow up to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Modern Warfare starts out with Sgt. Gary 'Roach' Sanderson and Cpt. John 'Soap' McTavish on a snowy mountain, climbing up with an interactive climbing experience. They get up the mountain and then they get to the Russian camp, and they take the stealthy way to getting through the camp to their objective, which is one of the best things about this game. Infinity Ward made the weapons, and attatchments to the weapons have the ability to do multiple ways of taking care of the situation you are in. There is a sonar-like attatchment that shows you where the enemies are so that you can use the suppressed weapon to take care of them, or even your knife, which flows a lot better than it did in the last game, because the tester moved around a corner and knifed someone without any lag or delay at all. Finally after the tester got to the objective something went wrong and in an instant the tactis changed from stealth-based to running and gunning, trying to survive, in a way that only Infinity Ward could pull off. Also you just sometimes have to run away, and in the game instead of just running down a hill, you fall down the hill, in real time, and you get up and start shooting without missing a beat, which is a fairly new advancement in Call of Duty games. Also in the Campaign you can drive vehicles, such as a snow speeder in the demo shown, and you can shoot while driving. It was announced after the demo that there is already two map packs slated for release, exclusively on XBL shortly after release. The first impression on this game is four and a half stars, if the multiplayer gets any better, such as fully customizable characters, then it will get a five.
Final Fantasy XIII
The Final Fantasy demo looked very good, it was definitely a current generation game, and it plays even better than it looks. All of the combat is real time, no turn based, and there is four active time gauges, which brings forth more powerful magics and skills. I didn't really get too much from the people that were presenting because they needed a translator. But it looked great and I can't wait to get my hands on it. It is set for release spring of 2010. First impression is three and a half stars because there wasn't any real information given, they just played the demo and spoke Japanese.
Shadow complex is an XBLA title that is created by Epic Games, the developers that made Gears of War. It is a 3D side scroller, which takes little bits and peices from Super Metroid and also Ghost in the Shell. It has mechanical creatures, innovative weapons such as the foam gun, and the hook shot, but it was still glitchy during the conference, and it looked like a game that might not do good when released, just because it was still glitchy and the graphics weren't great. First impression was a three, because it looks like a decent tactical shooter, with a big map, but the graphics aren't great, it is a side scroller, and it looks like it is mashed from a couple of different titles.
This is a XBLA game, which looks like it could be really fun. It is a driving game, which uses your Avatar as the driver. Pretty much if you take Hot Wheels, add the Avatars, you get this game, but it does look decently fun with some fun tracks. It is going to be a free download but upgrades and tracks are going to cost Microsoft points. It comes out in Winter 2009. The first impression was four stars, because it is a great looking casual game, which is free, but upgrades and tracks cost money.
Crackdown 2 and Left 4 Dead 2
The reason why these two games are lumped together is because they were both shown in two trailers, with no explanations of the games, by the developers, but there is one thing for sure, Left 4 Dead 2 has some new characters, and a different art direction, which actually makes the graphics look kinda bad.
Splinter Cell: Conviction
This game has taken a while to come out, but I think it is going to be worth it. THe graphics look great, and I love how they keep the players immersed by having little to no cut scenes, and if there is a cut scene it transitions almost seamlessly. It is, of course, a tactical shooter, only this time it is a sandbox tactical shooter. You have multiple options on how to advance through the game, such as going up the side of a building through a window instead of the front doors, which adds a touch of strategy to the game. Also, to keep the game looking real, your objectives are projected on the walls, and also the story telling is projected throughout the game, as ghost images while you are doing your killing of people. The first impression is four and a half stars.
Forza Motorsports 3
This game looks amazing. The graphics are great, and the handling looks like it is even better. The game brings back the interior view, and this is only one of the great additions. It has a new engine that runs at 60 frames per second, and also there is an improved community for the most part. There is a video editor in the game and there are professional artists that are always working to make better looking cars, great videos of the in-game cars preforming stunts, and it also has more realistic graphis and realistic physics and it makes me believe that it will knock Gran Turismo, a Sony exclusive, out of the Sim racing genre. The first impression is five stars.
Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach
Halo 3: ODST takes place at the same time as Halo 3, only instead of Master Cheif you take the job of an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, whose Drop pod got knocked off course, and now your character, The Rookie, tries to find his lost team mates. During the game you find different memories of fallen ODST troopers, and you actually assume the roles of the ODSTs memories you find. You get two new suppressed weapons, one of which is the suppressed SMG, and also a low light vision visor that is great for those times when you can't see too much. You also have the ability of getting Recon armour for your multiplayer character, and also you can find out the mystery of New Mombosa. Also if you buy Halo 3: ODST you get the beta for the Halo: Reach multiplayer, which will release in 2010. Halo 3: ODST drops into stores September 22, 2009, and the first impression is four and a half stars.
Alan wake is a supernatural thriller about an author of supernatural thrillers. The enemies get killed by light and you also have weapons in the game. Honestly it looks like it should have been made into a point and click thriller, much like the ones you would find on the Nintendo DS. It doesn't look like it is going to be very good, and the dictations from the characters themselves can be obnoxious at points. It releases in spring 2010. First impression is 2 stars, because it seems like a great movie idea, but not a "hardcore" video game on the X-Box 360.
That was a general overview of the ten games showcased during the press conference, and now it is for some changes to the way X-Box Live is used.
The first change is that Last.FM has joined forces with X-Box Live and they have started to broadcast radio stations and also their entire library through X-Box Live. There is also a change to where Sky TV is going to broadcast live TV and movies to the UK and Ireland, and also, most likely the United States, so you will be able to watch live sporting events through your X-Box, that was all that was mentioned about that.
Also coming back is Zune Video, which is a replacement of the Video Marketplace which allows you to press play on a movie, and without downloading the game to your console play the movie in 1080p HD, which is way better than waiting hours, upon hours to watch one movie. You just click and play. Also there will be a party system update which will allow you to watch movies and tv through the party while on separate X-box 360 consoles.
Facebook and Microsoft have joined forces and have brought Facebook to the 360 by making it look like the consoles menu, you can navigate through facebook with ease, while checking status's, pictures, and also has a function that links your friends on facebook to their X-Box Live accounts and lets you add them as friends on X-Box Live. There is also a twitter addition that allows you to twitter on your X-Box and both of these items update instantly.
Metal Gear Solid, as a whole, has been a Sony exclusive title for years. Now, Kojima is releasing Metal Gear Solid: Rising on the X-Box 360, with a whole new storyline and new star of the show, Raiden. Kojima also said that they will be releasing the franchise on the X-Box, which means Microsoft just stole another Sony exclusive title.
Now, the moment you all have been waiting for:
Project Natal is Wii Motion, but on steroids. Natal is a camera that has full-body recognition software that allows you to move your Avatar with your bodies motion, such as picking up your feet and looking at the Avatars shoes, as well as controlling them in game and moving objects without pre-written maneuvers. It has facial recognition for signing you into the X-Box, and it also has voice recognition for turning it on or off. You navigate through menus with the flick of a wrist, and push towards the Natal sensor to select an item.
Peter Molyneaux came out during the conference and announced that he was working with Natal, and has created something of which the likes had never been seen. He created the first AI in game that you can talk to and recognises you and has it's very own personality. It's name is Milo, and it looks like a little boy, and you can talk to him, see his emotions and even show him things using the Natal. He can tell your emotions and he reacts to you in the way a normal person would react to you. In the demonstration the demonstrator even drew a picture of a fish with an orange marker, she held it up to the Natal sensor, and it scanned it in. Milo took the picture from off screen looked at it, and said "This is a great drawing of a fish, I like the orange you drew it with." This amazes and scares me, because on one hand it is a great idea, which could lead to the likes of such game characters as Cortana, from the Halo franchise, but it could also lead to Terminators, which is bad.
Natal already has some games lined up, like ricochet, which is a brick breaker look alike game where your Avatar keeps the balls in play. You get up and move around and break the bricks at the end of a tunnel, and since you are the controller, you can't just fake it, you actually have to get up and move. It is the ultimate fitness peripheral. There is also a paint feature where you can create art and share it on X-Box Live.
Microsoft just announced some pretty amazing things at E3. The best could possibly be Natal, and I can't wait to see what the other first party developers have in store, because they are going to need something pretty huge to combat Natal, and all of the exclusive features that the X-Box is bringing to the table. This could push Microsoft to being the best system developer out of the big three during this generation of gaming.
Well that is it for the first day of press conferences, check back later for information from Sony, Nintendo, and I might even throw in some information from the third party developers also.