The Missing Link
[UPDATE: I had to put this on effective “tape delay” since the feed wasn’t available until after the MS conference, so just pretend this happened 2½ hours earlier… ]
Alright, let’s see if this works better on the third time. This time, we’re taking a look into the last competition, Microsoft. They’ve got a good lead, and honestly, most of the Earth-shaking for Sony and Nintendo took place back in 2005. I wonder if Microsoft has anything going well for 2006?
Click the link below to read the live-blog.
[5:33pm] Well, I’m surprised that Microsoft didn’t allow the online media to cover this via live webcast, but that’s probably because they’re pushing most of this stuff out over Xbox Live. C’est la vie. Microsoft is in an interesting position where neither Sony nor Nintendo has had anything massively interesting to show today, sort of knocking the pins over that were set up at E3 2006. I haven’t sneaked a peek yet at what Microsoft has done, so let’s do this.
[5:45pm] If you haven’t seen any of the conferences, they’ve got them over at GameSpot, which is how I’ve been live-blogging all of this yesterday and today. I know people have been asking how I’ve been doing it. (No, it’s not magic, I swear!)
[5:51pm] Alright. The stream for Microsoft is officially up. Let’s get this blog rolling!
[5:52pm] Okay, we’re starting directly into a game trailer… this is crazy! Narration for a huge FPS game, it looks like. Futuristic. It’s Gears of War, and it looks decent.
[5:54pm] So we start with a presentation about what the game is, and then we go straight back to the game. It looks very similar to a Doom 3-like game or Halo 2. Although this is in third-person or at least you can toggle between 3rd and 1st. Anyways, it probably looks much more impressive live, but on a screen the size of a post-it note, it looks dark and small, but I guess it could be good. Still not my type of game.
[5:57pm] The control schema for this game seems a little bit more detailed than your run-of-the-mill FPS, although it’s still controller based.
[6:00pm] Well, the game looks really good. Although it’s a hardcore gamers fare.
[6:01pm] Claiming that they brought about some high excitement about the Xbox 360. This is true, although not in Japan. Discusses the shortage problem that they’ve had since launch (which is finally over). They say that they’ll have sold >5M consoles as of the end of the month. Seems impressive at first, but the DS and PSP sold much faster than this.
[6:02pm] Sold 4.5 games per Xbox 360 sold since launch. That’s a decent number considering the time range and the shortage problems they’ve had.
[6:05pm] Their big pushes: HD, connectivity with friends over Live, and a lifestyle of linking games, pictures, and movies.
[6:06pm] Talking about Xbox Live and its successes. They say Xbox Live will hit 6M members by next year. This is actually a lot higher than even the >1M that the DS has.
[6:08pm] Showing about Xbox Live Arcade. They’ve got PacMan, Frogger, Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, among many others that I didn’t get a chance to list. It looks very similar to the virtual console device from Nintendo, although this is with arcade games instead of previous consoles.
[6:09pm] The “classic” games will be updated to hi-def, and they will have online leader boards and whatnot. Their arcade will also be the “Sundance” for games; they have partnerships with >100 indie developers to create lightweight games to put into Xbox Live Arcade.
[6:10pm] Their big surprise is Luminis Live. They’re going to put music from major music developers to put it into backgrounds of this game. Interesting… Not sure it’s completely necessary, but I can’t complain by that. It does add a decent variety.
[6:12pm] Moving onto full-fledged 360 games. Let’s see what we’ll have. Lost Planet is up first, it’s basically a shooter. Then Table Tennis, Brothes in Arms, Mass Effect, NHL 2K7, F.E.A.R., Too Human, Viva Piata (which is SILLY!), MotoGP, Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-Earth, a Sonic title, Madden NFL ‘07 again, a poker game–seems too lightweight for a proper 360 title, Saint’s Row, WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2k7, Stranglehold, Enchanted Arms, a rancing game, another football game… many of these are FPS titles or sports titles. Oh DDR for the Xbox! That’s new!
[6:15pm] A Superman game, another basketball game, an FPS… 99 Nights, which will be a hit title, I assure you.
[6:17pm] Talking about how innovation is important? Let’s see what they’ve got…
[6:19pm] Something by Lionhead Studios… Oh wow… Fable 2. Now Fable is a great game… to see a sequel to this will be a powerful force. It looks really beautiful, even on my small screen. Although it’s funny how they say “innovation” with a sequel.
[6:21pm] Next title–another racing game. This title actually looks much better than the PS3 racing titles… but this is running pre-rendered it appears, so let’s see what the actual gameplay looks like, Microsoft! It’s Forza 2 for the curious.
[6:22pm] Going to add a steering wheel that has force feedback and will be wireless. They’re adding also a wireless headset and a camera for Xbox Live. All available this fall.
[6:25pm] Talking about an exclusive title for the Xbox 360 by a Japanese developer. Definitely looks Japanese, that’s for sure. Called Blue Dragon. Although the only bits we get to see of it are cutscene images.
[6:27pm] They still think very strong that they can break into the Japanese market. It will be a very tough sell for them to do, but with Japanese developers on board, can they do it? Interesting at the very least…
[6:28pm] Moving onto a Tom Clancy game. Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Looks good, but again, all cinematics.
[6:29pm] Oh for the love of… It’s Rare’s Viva Piñata. I’m still surprised Microsoft is excited about this game given their primary market being years older than what this game is made for. And Rare is making this game? Don’t even get me started… The goal is to take a piece of land and make it a paradise for piñatas… Sort of like Sim game only with Piñatas. I just feel a little weird talking about this game with any seriousness.
[6:32pm] The romance dance for piñatas… and people call Nintendo kiddie?
[6:35pm] Moving onto Marketplace. Over >18M downloads of stuff of >1k items on Marketplace. They use this for game demos to do a try-then-buy business model. This is very true. They can also add levels, characters, weapons, etc. for games to make them better. They’re going to be putting up music videos, movie trailers, and NOW TV content, all in HD quality over Marketplace.
[6:37pm] Now we’re moving to the HD-DVD player. Will be available this holiday season.
[6:38pm] Will get to have Grand Theft Auto IV on the system. Will have episodic content as well, downloadable over Marketplace.
[6:42pm] And now we go on to Windows Vista. Going to be easy to use, built for games. Bringing out the creators of Far Cry; the new game is called Crysis. Unlike every game so far, this actually is done in real-time it looks like, and it is very reminiscent of Doom 3.
[6:46pm] Going to see what gaming will look like on Vista, which is built upon DirectX 10. They’ve got some beautiful cinematics all over the place, from a medieval battle to a flight simulator, from an FPS within a jungle to a post-apocalyptic world. Still, all of it is pre-rendered, so it’s hard to really judge it for any effectiveness.
[6:49pm] So we have an FPS… but this is unlike any FPS I’ve seen. There’s magic involved in this as well… hmm… Shadowrun for Vista, but again… NO ACTUAL GAMEPLAY is being shown. What is with this? Think you can sway everyone with pretty cinematics?
[6:51pm] Going to another FPS game, again with only cinematics, Alan Wake. A psychological game. Cinematics are slick, but…
[6:53pm] So they’re bringing out Bill Gates. Welcome Billy-boy! Just a reminder of why I didn’t like Microsoft at the very get-go, but we’ll work with that… I guess.
[6:55pm] Billy-boy is talking straight business so far. Some might care about this, but… well… I’m just going to fall asleep… zzzzz…
[6:57pm] They want to have 10M units sold before either Sony or Nintendo enter the market place. That’s bold.
[7:00pm] Their goal is to connect Windows Vista into Xbox Live. That’s also a big challenge to do cross-platform gaming.
[7:04pm] They’re going to be trying to doing cellphone integration as well. Crazy stuff.
[7:07pm] As big as this point is, they’re going on it for way too long. Bill has been on stage for roughly 14 minutes talking about this whole integration thing. It is important, but it’s just not as interesting.
[7:13pm] So they cut to black, and the game everyone is wanting to see at E3 is here. It’s easily Halo 3. The crowd is applauding for this. It’s a small little clip, hard to say exactly what is going on with all of this… but Master Chief comes on the screen, looking really well done (again, cinematic). But I have to admit. This game is one of their major selling points.
[7:15pm] And that’s it. Conference is over.
So what have we here? Out of the three companies, Microsoft is the only one who has really talked big, the only one who really has given a new, profound statement that we haven’t heard before. I think that’s partially because now they’re on the way of executing their vision for the 360 and moving onto Windows Vista, synching it all up from there.
Still, they’ve shown a lot of pretty visuals but not a lot of real true blue content. Only one or two games were actually demoed on stage, and to me that’s not what the press conference is about. With Sony and Nintendo, even if we only saw a few seconds of a game in a montage, it at least looked like a real-time player were playing the game, and so I don’t know whether to make heads or tails out of the whole thing.
I guess the show floor will decide it all.Follow This Entry