Monday, June 1, 2009
Day 1 of E3 '09: Microsoft
Wow, this year my Microsoft predictions weren't as accurate as a I thought they would be. It seems as though Microsoft knew what people were expecting (motion controller, avatar stuff, etc.) and went a step further with it.
In response to the motion controller rumors, they showed off Project Natal with Steven Spielberg, which is a camera that detects faces and motion and responds to voice commands as well. They demoed the new camera by showing several games as well as Peter Molyneux (Fable, Black & White) showing off Milo, an interactive character that responds to real-life actions through Natal.
As far as avatars go, they will be upgraded with the ability to earn awards and props that allow you to further customize your avatar. They will also be further integrated into the NXE; both games and interface-wise.
Microsoft made, in my opinion, a great move when they announced that the 360 will support Last.fm, Facebook, and Twitter. Last.fm will allow Gold members to use the free listening/music discovery service. No word on whether you will be able to use it while in-game. The Facebook integration allows users to take game snapshots and automatically upload them to their profile. Users will also be able to update statuses and view photos and friends via Facebook Xbox. Twitter allows the same twitter service to be used on Xbox. Nothing too special there.
More importantly, Microsoft gave an excellent view of what games they have lined up for the upcoming year. First off, they had a diverse cast of celebrities come up to help present what Microsoft has to offer. They started out with Rock Band: The Beatles, where the families of John Lennon and George Harrison as well as Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr came on stage. This was followed by Tony Hawk showing off the new Tony Hawk Ride game, which is controlled by a skateboard deck peripheral. The Square Enix people gave a glimpse of FFXII running on the 360. Shooters shown include Left 4 Dead 2 and Modern Warfare 2, both looking badass as expected, as well as Halo: ODST and the announcement of Halo: Reach, which is a prequel to the first Halo. A sequel to Crackdown was announced for 2010, supporting both competitive and co-op multiplayer. Finally, following on the heels of the FFXIII announcement of last year, this year's shocker was the appearance of Hideo Kojima who announced that the Metal Gear Solid franchise would be coming to XBox 360 with Metal Gear Solid: Rising. It stars Raiden from MGS2 and MGS4 fame.
Overall, great press conference from Microsoft this year. I give it a B+ on the grounds that they do have some great games lined up and some great ideas, but how well those ideas will be executed in the mass market is debatable. Also, no price changes or even possible bundles were announced for the upcoming year. While the MGS announcement came as a bit of a shocker to some, it is not the first time the franchise has come to Microsoft consoles as MGS2 was released for the first XBox. Microsoft has certainly set the bar for Sony and Nintendo and it will be interesting to see if they'll be able to compete.