The conference began with the opening cinematic scene of Beatles Rock Band followed by a performance of “Day Tripper” by the Harmonix team. After going through some of the song catalog, Pau and Ringo surprised the crowd with an appearance and what seemed to be nonsensical, alcohol-induced/old age ramblings.
Tony Hawk took the stage next to “hawk” the new board peripheral and game, titled Ride. Tony went over some of the technology in the board and stressed the ease of use for beginners. The video shows him and other skate pros developing and playing the game.
The trailer for Modern Warfare 2 appeared next, which has already circulated the net. Following that, though, there is an in game demo displayed for a level involving some mountain climbing followed by some sneaky executions with a heavily-silenced automatic weapon. The gun sports a nice motion sensor radar and a deadly clip rate. Then there is some very intense firefighting and even more intense snowmobile action.
Next, Final Fantasy XIII and the usual faire of over-the-top anime style RPG action. The graphics are stunning as always.
Cliff B came out next to show off Shadow Complex, a side scrolling shoot-em up. The game is a large open world that allows you to advance to different areas after acquiring advanced weapons and items. It was no Gears of War, which redefined the FPS by adding innovations like shooting from cover and gratuitous chainsaw-gun violence. Maybe we missed some key elements since Don’s mic wasn’t working, but it didn’t seem to be anything mind-blowing. However, we have learned that simple gameplay can still be entertaining if done properly.
The trailers for Crackdown 2 and Splinter Cell: Conviction were followed by a demo of the latter. The main character, Sam, is now on a personal and very lethal vendetta and the game focuses much more on violent, yet still cleverly calculated takedowns. The game is very free-roaming and allows you to choose how and when to strike.
Forza Motosport 3 showed off its speed and XBL community aspects, such as car design. How much more can we do with racing games? They already go fast enough.
Halo…the franchise that at this point needs no introduction. And that’s what we got, just straight into the game. The new installment finds you as a rookie shock trooper who gets separated from his team weeks before the events of the final Halo chapter. You then unravel the story through controlling other characters in flashbacks. Very Lost. Except instead of fighting smoke monsters you are fighting Covenant armies. There’s another Halo game, titled Halo:Reach that was teased with a video and no other game details. Let’s face it, we can play Halo games for the next ten years. They’re always entertaining.
Alan Wake is a supernatural thriller game that immerses the gamer in a frightening world that is constantly narrated like a nighttime drama. The protagonist is struggling to find missing pieces of a story he has written to uncover the source of an evil that has terrorized him and his family. The game is very cinematic without resorting to constant cut scenes and really engrosses you in a dark and thrilling environment.
Xbox Live is touting free content from Last.FM. Also, Netflix will have improved functionality and the ability to watch live tv directly through XBL. The big advance for XBL is the claim of instant-on 1080p HD content. If Microsoft lives up to this, it will help make Xbox the entertainment system that’s on as much as the cable box. Maybe even more.
Facebook. We’ve all used it and we all wish we could leave it alone. Now it’s nearly impossible with XBL. Not only can you view profiles, leave comments, and see pictures, but some games will be “facebook connect” equipped and allow you to post screenshots and messages during games in real time. Twitter is also coming to XBL. Both available this fall.
Hideo Kojima appeared on stage to the alert sound of Metal Gear and announced Metal Gear Solid: Rising in which you will control the character Raiden as opposed to the usual Solid Snake. It was just a teaser, but Hideo promised a whole new MG experience.
Microsoft jumps into the world of motion sensing with Project Natal. By eliminating controllers completely and allowing the gamer’s whole body to control the action, they could greatly expand the audience and longevity of the system. Add facial and voice recognition and scanning personal items into games, and this could be a whole new way to play. Even Steven Spielberg showed up to support the new technology. The demos showed some 3D motion and creating art by splashing virtual paint on a canvas. Finally, Peter Molyneux introduced us to a new level of interacting with games by showing Milo, a character that can directly interact with the gamer. Natal is truly aiming to put gamers in the game world that is being created rather than just controlling another character.
There was a lot to digest in this press conference and it will be more than enough to fuel excitement throughout E3 and the next year. Microsoft continues its quest to dominate the living room and create a unique experience only available on Xbox360. If only I was there to try it all out myself…
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