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E3 2009 Coverage – Microsoft
The Beatles opened up the show this year for Microsoft. Paul, Ringo, and Yoko all were on hand for the on stage demo of The Beatles: Rock Band. It seemed like they had absolutely no idea what was going on at all which is sad, the only thing they knew was that the bands name is being used to sell a product. Basically, money is to be made so we have to make an appearance. At least Metallica, AC/DC, and Van Halen all know what it is there getting involved with.
From there on out, it was an all out celebrity all you can eat feast, for every game there was someone there to announce it. There was a strong presence for the Xbox Live Arcade this year with lots of announcements of new games as well as new features for the Xbox Live Marketplace. The introduction of Live Broadcast TV, Live.FM (which is an online radio site with millions of members), SKY (Europe only, its a TV Streaming Service), Netflix 2.0 For Xbox 360, Zune Video Marketplace, and the announcement of FULL 1080p video coming to the marketplace.
Video on demand gets a major overhaul since all your Netflix video will be brought straight to your dashboard rather then staying in your Netflix section of your profile on Xbox Live. What i find interesting about this is that it shows that all the issues that have plagued the Netflix integration on Xbox 360 are being resolved and addressed, and the fact that they are going to Full True High Definition shows that they have noticed what Sony is doing with there Video Store and are being aggressive to close the gaps on there service. All the while, this new video service is the highlight of there announcements to start the show, an announcement they missed to mention at the show was the fact that Games On Demand is coming to Xbox Live! This is a huge feature folks, heres why.
The Stage Is Set: http://i43.tinypic.com/equkqe.jpg
The Beatles Ladies & Gentlemen: http://i40.tinypic.com/2m3ibdx.jpg
For starters, you will be able to download and play FULL retail versions of Xbox 360 titles on your console through a download from Xbox Live. This will eliminate the need to own the actual game. Another great feature of this is that you will NOT be required to use Marketplace Points, you will be able to link a credit card to the purchases.
They brought out the preppy and annoying Felicia Day from MTV’s The Hills to announce it. And honestly, i heard shouts of “Boring”, “Boo”, and “Move On” throughout her entire piece. She had no business being there, but then again she has the most friends on Facebook once again proving that in America if you know a lot of people or have had a lot of kids, your famous for some reason.
The integration is seamless and fast, you can see all your friends status, send messages and all of the other Facebook and Twitter features are there and in use. If your friend on Facebook has Xbox Live, you and there Avatars will be shown in plain view. This is a great way to add Social Networking to an already huge Social Networking gaming service and it might just increase the user base. A great addition and a great way to get your product shown around.
Facebook 360: http://i39.tinypic.com/23ixwkz.jpg
Once all the new features were announced, they showed off Major Titles as well as announced unknown titles. The biggest shock to me was the announcement of Left 4 Dead 2! The first game just came out back in November 2008, a sequel less then a year announced and shown with a street date is huge and shows that this game has a huge fan base and a strong following. I was shocked it was announced so soon, i knew it was coming but just not now.
Left 4 Dead 2 will center mostly in New Orleans as you and your 3 friends try to fend off the Zombie Apocalypse. More co-op features as well as new weapons and interactions are to be had. It looks like Team Fortress 2 only with monsters. This game will hit shelves for both the 360 and PC on November 17th. Crackdown 2 finally announced, why i am not so sure but at the same time it did get a huge pop from the crowd which is good considering the first game got panned by everyone and it was only purchased to get the Halo 3 beta invite.
This time around no beta invites are to be had and with a new house developing this game, perhaps there is a glimmer of hope to be had for this game. The tag is “The CIty Is Infected…You Are The Cure”. The next set of announcements came in the form of Halo. Halo 3: ODST which will be a expansion of sorts for Halo 3 which we all knew was coming will finally hit shelves on September 22nd and will feature new suppression weapons as well as night vision.
The game certainly takes a Que from both Killzone 2 and Modern Warfare 2. In box with ODST will be a limited edition Xbox 360 Controller with ODST embroidering all over it. But the biggest announcement involving Halo is the showing of the New Game: Halo: Reach. The game will ship in 2010, none is known about the game other then it is being developed by the New Halo Staff. The game got a huge pop with the crowd and it will launch 2010. ODST looks very promising, they did not just take the Halo 3 name and made an upgrade, they made an entirely new game all together. I am looking forward to it. Online multiplayer and Co-Op are included with ODST when it ships September 22nd.
Left 4 Dead 2 Logo: http://i42.tinypic.com/opmpft.jpg
Left 4 Dead 2 Working Together: http://i40.tinypic.com/2ykygsy.jpg
Halo: Reach Has Been Shown: http://i43.tinypic.com/k4f6l5.jpg
One of the new maps shown was a snow covered mountain map that requires the use of snow mobiles to cover all the ground. You get new weapons, explosions are all over, as well as the core online multiplayer intact with huge improvements. You and your team must work together to cover all the terrain on these maps in this HUGE upgrade to Modern Warfare. This game is definitely the most anticipated game of the year by far and now i am convinced about it.
I own the first game on PS3 and was not entirely blown away by it. Yes its exciting and addicting, but you get killed way to much. I hear the 360 version is the one to get but when i tried to buy it, it was sold out. I can see these game being the biggest 360 shooter to date. This game will once again launch first on the 360 and will make its way to PS3 sometime after the 360 launch.
Let’s Go Snow Riding: http://i41.tinypic.com/16h3uk5.jpg
Microsoft had shown lots of features and software, but what about hardware? The heavily rumored and recently patented “motion camera” was finally revealed at E3 2009. This “Project Natal” was shown off first in video form with a trailer showing off the many features of this device. This device will feature a camera, microphone, and optical scanner devices that can scan your entire body into the game as well as objects you can bring into the game with you.
For example, instead of using the Tony Hawk Ride board, you could have the Natal scan your own skate board into the game, and use it in the actual game. It will add your skate boards design and colors to the games skate board, making it more of an actual experience that you can create rather then using a pre-mapped design. You can also animate yourself into a fighting game by making actual contact with the characters in the game. Sort of like a Karate Kid element, this feature was shown off by showing someone playing a Karate game with the Sansei saying “Welcome, are you back for more?” This alluding to the fact that the camera and the games will know who is playing and has the ability to recognize and differentiate the players.
This is huge considering the fact that the only way the games know who is who is determined by the profile that is signed in. You can also use the the Natal to have virtual online conferences with friends and even share content with each other for your and there avatars. Video was shown by having two tween girls talking about an upcoming party and dresses were exchanged amongst the both of them. Microsoft is really backing this device as the “future of entertainment” as it is shown using other features of the Xbox 360 such as using it to run the Netflix application by sliding through the video library as well as using voice commands to control your system. Such as you can say “Play Movie” to start the film, and “Good Night” to shut down the system all together.
Project Natal: http://i44.tinypic.com/16h6gio.jpg
The Device Itself: http://i41.tinypic.com/5cnm6x.jpg
The device is also being titled the “future of entertainment” in a sense of where, in Microsoft’s perspective, the industry is going. And for a little bit of help on that, they contacted Steven Spielberg to help them develop this device. Why they wouldn’t ask for Pixar isn’t a mystery here, but this is the man who was the Executive Producer of Back To The Future so he knows how to be innovative and think outside of the box.
The device is shaped like the Wii Sensor Bar, colored like the Wii Sensor Bar, positioned like the Wii Sensor Bar…see the theme here? While i like the device, i feel that in the end, it will be a much more detailed Xbox Live Vision Camera with Playstation Eye and Wii features. I wish them the best of luck with this device, they will need it with the stranglehold Nintendo has on the motion controlled games department.
More into the user created content department with the Xbox Live Arcade racer “Joy Ride”. This FREE application will launch later this year, you design everything in this game and just go crazy with the cartoonish nature of the game. The fact that it is free is insane and your driver will be YOU. Your avatar will be the driver. But if your looking for more of a serious racer, Forza Motorsport 3 has been announced officially. This game has the look and feel of a Gran Turismo and even posses a serious threat to the GT fan base. The game runs at a smooth 60 frames per second and will feature 400 Cars from 50 car companies like Ford, GM, Nissan, and Toyota to name a few. If these companies need a bail out, thats another story.
The car detail is amazing and the Forza physics engine has been left in tact and in fact it has been completely revitalized with all new features. The paint shop once again returns with mountains of features as well as the return of the Xbox Live Car Trading and Sharing and Selling. The game will also introduce a much more in depth video editor feature which will allow you to create amazing video shows for all to see.
Lets Take A Joyride: http://i43.tinypic.com/2zpl1xv.jpg
Forza 3 Detail: http://i41.tinypic.com/14ad1zb.jpg
Forza 3 Running At 60 Frames Per Second: http://i43.tinypic.com/3444f0i.jpg
The biggest news was the announcement of Metal Gear Solid: Rising. A newly developed Xbox 360 Metal Gear game showcasing Raiden as the main character. This is a huge blow to Sony considering that MGS has been the centerpiece of the Playstation catalog. Nothing is known about this game other then it will be out in 2010 and it is currently being developed on the Xbox 360, rather then For the Xbox 360 which will indicate that it is being made only for Xbox 360. Another issue i have is that it is not a NEW MGS game, its more of a spin off since it shows Cyborg Raiden from Guns Of The Patriots. The crowd went nuts thinking it was that game for the 360 and were left in awe that it is a new title being made for Xbox 360. It is nice to see MGS finally expanding onto other consoles, its just now its becoming the game that will be released several times a year which can lead it to become stale. I look forward to it since i am a Huge MGS fan, should be interesting to see hat is going on in between MGS 2 – 4.
Metal Gear Solid Rising: http://i39.tinypic.com/2i7pwlw.jpg
All in all, Microsoft had a strong showing but i wasn’t completely floored at what i saw. They had tons of celebrities but then again, thats what all my peers noted in all there reports. It was fun to watch but there were lots of moments where i was left wondering: What? In the end, it was a solid show. I look forward to the new Gears Of War 2 content as well as the many features to be introduced into Xbox 360.
-On Demand Gaming Is Huge
-Payment Methods For Content Are Made Easier
-Lots Of Social Networking Coming
-Left 4 Dead 2 was a shocker
-Modern Warfare 2 Exclusive Content and First To 360
-Full HD Experience Is Coming
-Facebook Integration and Twitter Integration
-New User Generated Content Games
-Forza Motorsport 3 Is Amazing
-Zune Video Marketplace Expands Content
-Live TV Broadcasting
-Metal Gear Solid Is Coming To Xbox 360
-Too Many Celebrities Showing Things They Know Nothing About
-Too Many Moments Of “Uhhhh….What?”
-Metal Gear Solid Rising Is NOT An Exclusive, It Was Handled Like It Was
-All These New Features Are Shown, How There Stored Is A Mystery
-Yoko Ono Was There
-Too Many TBD 2010 Dates
-Rare Was A No Show, Why??
Microsoft’s E3 Score: C+
For Information Regarding EVERY Game Shown, Click Here: http://www.xbox.com/en-US/community/events/e3/
To Watch The Press Conference, Click Here: http://e3.gamespot.com/press-conference/microsoft-e3/
I would like to thank Engadget, Joysitq, Kotaku, Gamespot, Microsoft. Nintendo, and Sony for hosting these events on there respected sites and for sharing these images with the gaming community. All the shots shown here are from each of these sites.
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– John Yomtov