E3, aka the Electronic Entertainment Expo, has jumped off in a big way with Microsoft's Press Conference which happened this morning somewhere at Los Angeles. Since they were the first of the big three conferences (Nintendo and Sony's are tomorrow), they had to throw down the gauntlet and indeed they did. I came away really impressed of what Microsoft shown during their 2 hour briefing.
The briefing started off with The Beatles: Rock Band as Harmonix performed a full song and also announced DLC after the game's release with full albums and exclusive songs for Xbox Live. Lots of support are from the record company and even The Beatles themselves as Ringo and Sir John McCartney came out to an arousing applause. Even though I don't have Rock Band 2 anymore, Beatles looks very promising with its own art style and slightly different looking notecharts. Plus, it is cool to finally have Beatles songs on your Rock Band collection along with support for multiple singers according to the demo shown at the briefing. The Beatles: Rock Band will be released on September 9, 2009.
After Tony Hawk briefly talked about his new game, Tony Hawk Ride, along with showing off the skateboard controller and a trailer about fellow skaters loving it, the fireworks truly began with a demonstration of Modern Warfare 2, aka the sequel to Call to Duty 4: Modern Warfare by Infinity Ward. They first showed that infamous trailer that first aired during the NBA playoffs followed by a demo of the snow level by the developers themselves. I have been claiming that Modern Warfare 2 will be indeed the first-person shooter to beat this holiday season and I'm still keeping that claim true because it looks awesome having it all. My favorite moment of this demonstration is obviously the snowmobile parts as the player is firing at enemies gangster style with a pistol while driving. I regretfully passed on the first game for Mass Effect back in 2007, but now I'm actually looking forward for this being my shooter for the year. Also, Infinity Ward announced two exclusive map packs for Xbox Live since Modern Warfare has been a major success for the platform.
Next up is Final Fantasy XIII in which it was announced for 360 at last year's E3. Some Square-Enix folks came up to the stage and demonstrated a section of the trial version that was for the PS3, but running on 360 now. Surprisingly, it actually looks identical to the PS3 version and this brief demo has all out English voice overs. At least, Squenix announced a release window for the game which is next Spring.
Then Microsoft started rolling up the exclusives that began with a sequel to arguably my favorite 360 game. Crackdown 2 is indeed a reality as Ruffian Games is developing instead of Real Time Worlds since they moved on to APB (All Points Bulletin). Crackdown is a favorite among the hardcore crowd and for me actually being an awesome game besides having the Halo 3 Beta attached to it. If there is one game for me to come back to 360, Crackdown 2 would be it.
Left 4 Dead 2 came out as a surprise to me even though it was rumored to show up at this briefing. I thought it was too soon for a Left 4 Dead sequel considering the first game just came out last fall, but now the sequel is here and it is at a different setting, New Orleans, with a new cast of characters to go zombie hunting with. This is indeed 360/PC exclusive for a Fall 09 release.
Splinter Cell Conviction makes a return from the dead with an impressive showing at the press conference. Considering how Double Agent is somewhat of a refresh of previous SC games, Conviction looks to innovate the stealth action genre again with Sam Fisher on a mission for vengenace for the death of his daughter. This game is also coming out this fall.
Forza Motorsport 3 was a no brainer to be at the show, which it will be released this October. This racing game sequel will indeed be feature-heavy with the awesome car customization to the new video editor. Also, cockpit view is finally in as well as car damage being pushed to its limits as the Gran Turismo franchise still doesn't have it (Maybe GT5 will have it after all?). Turn 10 claims Forza 3 will be the racing game of the generation and so far if Sony doesn't show GT5 tomorrow, it sure looks that way for Forza 3.
And now the Halo section of the press conference begins with a demonstration of Halo 3 ODST, the single player expansion for Halo 3 out this September. Bungie is still making this one as a slightly different HUD is shown since you're playing as an ODST soldier. Also making a return to this game is the Halo 1 pistol complete with the scope (A lol moment for me out of the demonstration). The new silenced weapons make the experience somewhat different to previous games, but it is still Halo at its core.
Surprisingly making the rumors true, another Halo game was announced, which is called Halo: Reach. This is just a teaser as the game is based on the Fall of Reach novel. Don't expect this game till next fall, but a multiplayer beta will be out with Halo 3 ODST.
Also returning from the dead is Alan Wake by Remedy, the folks that brought you the first two Max Payne games. This survival horror/action game has been a long time coming, but finally it exists and actually an early contender for game of the show. The atmosphere and suspense looks intense as well as the gunplay with crazy slowmo stuff. Alan Wake is expected to come out next Spring.
Microsoft decides to break from the games to show off what's next in Xbox Live features. Among those new features, they will add last.fm to the dashboard, managaing your Netflix queue on 360 (finally), buy retail games from XBL Marketplace (not shown at the press conference), and instant 1080p HD video streaming. All of this will be out this fall. Even with all of that stuff on your 360 console, they decided to go extra crazy announcing support for FaceBook and Twitter (Lol!!!!)
The Guild's Felicia Day (also a cutie among the nerd community) came out to demo Facebook and Twitter on 360, which is crazy. As if Twitter and Facebook are crazy enough on our computers, being on 360 is just pushing it.
Back to the games, confirming more rumors and fueling the fanboy wars to new levels, Hideo Kojima comes out to announce Metal Gear Solid: Rising on 360 (exclusivity still unknown yet) starring everyone's favorite badass cyber-ninja Raiden (not Solid Snake). About time MGS appears on 360 whether or not it is MGS4, but at least Kojima is showing support for the 360 now.
Don Mattrick comes out after all those blockbuster game announcements to announce their vision for the future of gaming. Project Natal is the codename for their new direction for motion controllers (okay it is the rumored motion camera). Microsoft believes in no controllers for their ambitious direction as your whole body is the controller engaging in various activities. Various mini-games like painting and evading balls are shown during the demo headed by former EA Chicago mastermind Kudo Tsunoda. This demonstration video below is a glimpse of what to expect from Project Natal (Minority Report vibes indeed) which launches next year. Microsoft's attempt of the combating the Wii's success with motion controls has lots of potential and perhaps take over since it does way more than the Wii could do.
Perhaps the most ambitious game out of Project Natal is Milo, headed by Peter Molyneux's Lionhead Studios (Fable II). This guy is so full of ambition claiming that this whole motion-driven direction is a breakthrough of computer technology. Oh we'll see about that Peter if it lives up to its potential, but this is pretty special stuff indeed.
That's it for Microsoft Press Conference at this year's E3. I must say that Microsoft came out swinging having blockbuster game after blockbuster game (Some of them worthy exclusives), push the all-in-one entertainment console to new heights with instant 1080p HD support along with using Facebook and Twitter on your 360, and announce a new beginning for video games as a whole with Project Natal using the whole body as the controller. There was no filler moments as John Schappert (spelling?) promised no numbers or pie charts at the briefing (Yay!!) even though I wished Xbox Live Arcade had more time than just Epic's Shadow Complex being demoed (Its a Metroidvania style shooter that headlines this year's Summer of Arcade lineup... Also Marvel vs. Capcom 2 will start it up as well). The absence of Rare at the conference raised some questions as well whether or not they were ready to announce something new, so that was a little disappointing. Let's just say that Microsoft now has the tools to take over the console wars with a stacked game lineup and Project Natal. We'll see what Nintendo and Sony will do to counter Microsoft's amazing press conference (one of the better ones in years I think) tomorrow.
Don't forget I'll be liveblogging those conferences here tomorrow instead of spamming on Twitter and Facebook (Once again, I'm sorry).