E3 2009: Microsoft E3 press conference missing only fluffy kittens

dogsounds, E3, microsoft press conference

So, it’s E3 time. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo square up against each other to wow us with what is to come. In reality of course, it’s simply a big dick-waving session. But we win in the end.

Today sees Microsoft’s press briefing. Microsoft always try to make a big splash, and from what they have shown today they have done a pretty damn good job. It’s hard to imagine how Sony can better this. And Nintendo? Well, there’s no real point them turning up.

What did they announce? Find out after the jump!

First off: games. Some new stuff shown, some stuff we expected.

  • The Beatles: Rock Band demoed, with Yoko Ono, Olivia Harrison, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney coming on stage.
  • Demonstration of Tony Hawk: Ride and how the skateboard peripheral works
  • There is apparently a Modern Warfare 2 game coming out, who’da thunk it? With two DLC map packs hitting the 360 first
  • Final Fantasty XIII may be around spring 2010 time
  • Epic showed off a 3D side scrolling platform-adventure type game called Shadow Complex coming to Xbox Live Arcade. By all accounts in a similar vein to BC: Rearmed
  • Joy Ride – an avatar-based racing game, cartoony-style
  • Crackdown 2 announced
  • Left4Dead 2 trailer
  • Splinter Cell Conviction shown, apparently due this autumn “exclusively” on Xbox
  • Forza 3 this October
  • Halo 3: ODST gameplay shown
  • Halo: Reach announced, trailer shown. Takes place in the period before Halo: Combat Evolved. Follows the story in book? Not known. But Halo 3: ODST buyers will get a key for the beta. Game due 2010.
  • Alan Wake FINALLY has a release window: Spring 2010

 Okay, that’s the main games. What else?

Microsoft will be providing real-time music on Xbox Live in partnership with Last FM. Not clear if this is U.S. only (I have never heard of Last FM). Will be free for gold subscribers, coming later this year.

You will be able to queue Netflix movies from within Xbox Live (if you live in the U.S, obviously) and will soon be able to just hit ‘play’.

Microsoft are partnering with Sky in Europe, to allow integration of live TV through the 360, no hardware required, a first in the console industry.

Zune video will launch and offer up to 1080p video playable instantly. Not clear if this is U.S. only or not.

Facebook AND twitter will be integrated into yor Xbox dashboard this autumn. Not sure how I feel about this one! Screenshots can be posted to facebook real-time, and you can see Live and facebook friends all at the same time. With my facebook friends list, that’s going to be a fucking nightmare. Facebook friends who are also on Xbox Live appear with their avatars.

Then a big announcement ( I left it till now to maintain the flow): Hideo Kojima comes on stage and announces Metal Gear is coming to Xbox with a new game: Metal Gear Solid Rising, and all-new instalment in the franchise which seems to focus around Raiden, not Snake. It is not *explicity* stated if this is Xbox exclusive or not.

Then finally the biggest of the big announcements: confirmation of the new motion controller system, codenamed Project Natal. As the leaks suggested a few weeks ago, the camera-like device sits in front of your TV. But unlike the Wii detector bar thing, this is a camera and detects fulll body motion without the need for any controller.

And not just that, it also detects voice, and Microsoft say it can identify the user by the voice.

And not just that, it can supposedly make out facial expressions and identify you by face.

Several silly Wii-like applications are demonstrated – the player’s movement animated the avatar in slinging paint at a large canvas, two women try on virtual clothes, players “press” the buzzer in 1 Vs. 100. Steven Spielberg takes the stage and discusses it as the future. Ho-um me-too stuff so far.

Natal developer Kudo Tsunoda takes the stage in sunglasses, the Natal camera recognises him and signs his profile into Xbox Live and the console. He then proceeds to navigate the Xbox dashboard with his hands, ‘Minority Report’ style.

These all seem ok but nothing too fancy, But then the last set of demonstrations are the real show-stealer.

A virtual character called Milo appears on screen. A female demonstrator stands on stage. Milo walks closer to the screen, looks at the woman and starts to talk to her. She talks back. They interact, Milo seems to respond to her voice and facial expressions. He throws her some goggles; she reaches out to catch them. There is a pond on the screen; the woman leans in and sees her own reflection, and waves her hand to create virtual ripples, the pond reacting to her hand motions. Finally, she draws a picture on a piece of paper, shows it to Milo and “passes” it to him – he picks up the paper and there on screen is a virtual piece of paper with her drawing on it.

Fuck me. Imagine that shit in Fallout 3? I could finaly pet Dogmeat!

Peter Molyneux states that this works, now.

All I can say is….I have no idea how Sony are going to come even close to all that at all. Microsoft said they would re-invent how you play games and the role the console plays in the home, and they weren’t kidding. More than all the other announcements, if the Natal system – whenever it comes out – is anywhere near as complex and accomplished as this tech demo, then wow, we are in for one hell of a ride.

I’ll post the Sony and Nintendo conferences too, when they happen.



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