E3 Wrap Up – Spotlight: Microsoft

06 · 02 · 09

Cross Post from

So you’re not a gamer, but you would like to be, E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) is the place to be for all the news and demos for the gaming industry. E3 is the most anticipated gaming expo of the year. Microsoft kicked off the this year’s expo with their keynote presentation. And boy was it a kick off! Read on as I summarize highlights from the keynote.

1.) Opening the keynote was a glimpse at The Beatles Rock Band. To be released 09/09/09, The Beatles Rock Band, the newest offering in the popular interactive music franchise boasts 40 songs on the disc, as well as full albums available as download-able content with proceeds going directly to Doctors without Borders. Appearances by Yoko Ono-Lennon and Olivia Harrison and special guests Ringo Starr and Paul Mccartney were on hand to show their support. Ringo Starr commented, “The game is good, the graphics are very good, and we were great.”

2.) Next up was the new skateboarding game Tony Hawk Ride, whose demo was presented by none other than pro skater Mr. Hawk himself. Not only did he demo the new game, but also a new intuitive skateboard controller created by Robomodo.

3.) Infinity Ward also announced Modern Warfare 2 with a 11/10/09 release date. The new release will introduce a new “Cliffhanger” level that will include a radar gun attachment, mountain climbing and snow-mobiling. And because this is MS Xbox, Infinity Ward announced there will be 2 full map packs available as downloadable content on the Xbox first.

4.) Presented by Square Enix, Final Fantasy XIII is scheduled for release in spring 2010. Displaying a completely new fighting style, Final Fantasy XIII will include 4 active time gauges allowing for more powerful moves and special tactics.

1.) Shadow Complex by Epic Games is scheduled for release in summer 2009 and boasts more than 120 hidden secrets and 10+ hours of campaign gameplay. This shooter game, powered by the Unreal Engine 3, will include huge maps, big bosses and plenty of combat.

2.) Joy Ride created by Big Park, the latest Microsoft Studios acquisition, is an avatar racing game to be released in winter 2009 that will be free to download and free to play. Among the game’s features will be the ability to buy cars and upgrades. Perhaps the most exciting feature will be the content sharing that will allow players to share racetracks with their friends without forcing friends to download the tracks themselves.

3.) Crackdown 2 by Ruffian Games, the sequel to the award-winning game improves on the co-operative and multi-player gaming experience of the original and is scheduled for release in 2010.

4.) Created by Valve Software, Left 4 Dead 2 promises even more fabulously violent zombie killing. To be released 11/17/09, what else could you ask for?

5.) Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction brought to you by Ubisoft is scheduled for release in fall 2009. Exciting new features include “mark & execute” targeting, more tactical advantages and stealth skills, as well as new gadgets, including an EMP grenade.

6.) Forza Motorsport 3 was presented by Turn 10 Studios, accompanied on stage by a red Audi RAV10. A new graphics system providing 60 frames per second will certainly help this racer stand out, but that only the tip of the iceberg. Turn 10 Studios has included 400 cars from 50 manufacturers, as well as 1-button driving capability and gameplay rewind. Optimizing the player experience is personalization and community interaction. From customizing the cars, to creating, uploading and sharing high-definition videos, Forza Motorsport 3 looks to be the racing game to beat.

7.) One of the most anticipated moments was Bungie’s announcement of Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach. Halo 3: ODST, to be released 09/22/09, will include 2 new sound-suppressed weapons and a new visor with a low light visor mode. The new story will provide clues throughout the game that will trigger gameplay as a different character within the game to further the storyline. Bungie is also unveiling a new co-operative game mode in the game, called Firefight. Recently there have been rumblings of a new aspect to Halo. Bungie made those rumors a reality by announcing Halo: Reach, a multi-player gaming adventure, expanding on the franchise. Scheduled for 2010, players who buy Halo 3: ODST will receive an invitation for beta access to Halo: Reach.

8.) Combine a psychological thriller with an action-adventure game and you get Remedy Games Alan Wake, scheduled for release in spring 2010.

1.) Xbox partners with Last.fm to integrate music into the Xbox experience. Xbox Live gold members will be able to access Last.fm on their consoles for free later this year.2.) Xbox will partner with Netflix to provide members with access to their instant queues and the ability to simply click and play movies and television shows directly on the Xbox.

2.) Xbox also teamed up with Sky TV to provide access to players in the United Kingdom and Ireland, becoming the first gaming console to provide real-time programming. Even better, Sky TV will be available without the need for additional hardware.

3.) Microsoft is also re-launching its video service as Zune Video. The newly updated service will upgrade high-definition to full 1080p and will expand the service’s availability to 18 countries from the current availability in only 8 countries. Microsoft promises all movies and television shows will be available immediately; no disc; no download; no delay. In addition, players will be able to share movies and television with other players in different locations using Live Party.

1.) Felicia Day took the E3 stage to confirm Season 3 of The Guild will return in fall 2009, and to present the first look at the Facebook integration on the Xbox. Some of the highlighted features included Friend Linker, which will allow players to combine their Xbox Live and Facebook friends, and Facebook Connect that will allow users to post game screen shots and post comments directly to their Facebook profile.

2.) Felicia also announced a partnership with Twitter, providing real-time updates all within the convenience of the console.

Both Facebook and Twitter are scheduled for release on the Xbox in fall 2009.

1.) Konami Digital Entertainment announced Metal Gear Solid: Rising, the next installment in the franchise, will be coming to the Xbox. Mr. Hideo Kojima himself took the stage to confirm development is underway. I’m sure more details will soon be disclosed.

2.) Probably the most surprising announcement was that of Project Natal. Forget motion-sensor controllers, you are the controller. Microsoft’s tagline for Project Natal, “the only experience you need is life experience,” illustrates their goal to involve people, gamers and non-gamers, in the experience. Project Natal promises voice and facial recognition, as well as full body motion capture and the ability to scan your own gear to create a virtual replica. Project Natal touts its share and connect capability, with multi-player functionality to follow. This fantastic interactivity will work with all current and future Xbox consoles. Steven Speilberg made a special appearance to endorse Project Natal, stating “I think what Microsoft is doing is not about re-inventing the wheel, it’s about no wheel at all.” Lionhead Studios introduced Milo, an interactive character created to demonstrate the possibilities that can be explored with Project Natal. Milo recognizes and reacts to the player’s physical motion and vocal tone and enables the user to share and interact within the same environment.

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