E3: Microsoft conference roundup

Well Microsoft certainly kick started E3 in a big way this year, making some long awaited announcements and some unexpected ones. They've set the bar very high for the rest of the week. During the conference Neowin news staff live blogged the event, we hope you enjoyed our coverage and join us tomorrow for Nintendo and Sony. Here are our thoughts on today's announcements at Microsoft's conference.

Rock Band: The Beatles

Andrew: I missed the start of the conference but while I was searching for a working feed I was told there was a demo of Rock Band Beatles on stage. When I finally found a live stream which worked, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were on stage very pleased with their self titled release in the Rock Band series.
I'm not a very big fan of The Beatles personally, and the asking price is very steep, even for a Rock Band game but it's sure to bring in the money. Very cool announcement on the exclusive track "All you need is love" too.

Dave Corris (Corris): I thought as a start it was groovy, but went on a bit, it's not something I am interested in really as I have discovered that I have little talent for music games.
But my opinion on it is why? This could have easily been put as a download for separate songs, or even a smaller expansion disk of sorts.

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): Was a odd choice for the opening of E3, but now I see why they did it, as it really was perhaps the least impressive announcement out of the entire presentation.

Garrett Dodd (rajputwarrior): I don't particularly care about these games, but seeing this elongated introduction was really that impressive either. I mean, how excited can you get about a game where you just hitting buttons at a certain moment over and over again? I love The Beatles though.

Modern Warfare 2

Andrew: The live demo was fantastic of the game. I've never been one to get excited over the trailers for Call of Duty games, but seeing them in motion is a whole different story. I love the new settings like in the Russian mountains. The snow mobile chase was awesome too, that definitely looks like an intense scene.
Infinity Ward also announced two timed exclusive DLC map packs, which should definitely please fans. The game was a massive hit on Xbox Live and Call of Duty 4's map packs were well received.

Dave Corris (Corris): I can't comment on the DLC, it's not something that interests me, but the live showing of the game was very cool, the graphics look like they have improved, if only slightly, but the general atmosphere that was so great in the first Modern Warfare was still there, I can't wait to play it.

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): While it was great to see some game-play, it was just not really a wow moment for me to be honest. I already expect it to be great since it is Modern Warfare 2. When it is a game I know I am absolutely going to love, I almost prefer not to watch any game-play footage as I would just rather experience it first-hand in it's entirety when it is released. Timed exclusive DLC Map Packs sounds good to me as well, as honestly I would have thought it was an absolute shame if PS3 owners did not get them at all.

Garrett Dodd (rajputwarrior): This game was impressive. Just when you think the franchises couldn't get any more intense it one ups itself. The demo looked cool, the particle effects looked amazing. This game will be this year multiplayer game of the year for sure.

Final Fantasy XIII

Andrew: I'm not a big RPG gamer but even I was impressed how smoothly the game was running on the 360 hardware, not least because it has been in development for a less amount of time. It looked very polished and I'm actually quite excited for the game now.
Squre-Enix announced a target release date of Spring 2010, much sooner than I expected. I'll be surprised if they make it though.

Dave Corris (Corris): Nice to have a release date, my biggest worry about this becoming multi-platform was that it might mean waiting longer for the game to come out, possibly going into winter 2010, but now we have the date and the live showing on Xbox 360 hardware, I'm confident we should be getting this soon.

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): I never played a single FF, and have no plans on starting to do so now. I am sure some people were extremely happy though, so hope they enjoyed it.

Garrett Dodd (rajputwarrior): This was a big one that i was looking forward to see. I have been anticipating this game since the next gen consoles were introduced, and to see it finally running on Microsoft's hardware was great. The game ran as smooth as silk and they showed a Guardian Force (Odin) for the demo which was cool too. Too bad we are still about a year away, but I am predicting now this will be next years game of the year.

Shadow Complex

Andrew: Honestly, I don't like the look of it, but I applaud Epic for trying something new instead of another FPS/TPS. It does look very polished and they've promised more than 10 hours of gameplay. It could turn out well, but I'm not too interested, at least not yet.

Dave Corris (Corris): Not something I'm too interested in, but it looked cool, and it's nice to see Epic doing other things on the Xbox 360.

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): Actually I was psyched to see this. A nod to the old-school days but with a new-school approach. I thought the foam gun alone was pretty bad ass, so will probably be a day-one pick up for myself.

Garrett Dodd (rajputwarrior): Though not the biggest game of all the showcases, it still looked pretty cool. 10 hours of game play from an XBLA title is pretty cool and the graphics and gameplay looked really nice. Epic never disappoints, so this should be a good game once it's released.

Left 4 Dead 2

Andrew: Well I'm actually surprised about this one. I know there was lots of hype around another Valve game but I really didn't expect it to be Left 4 Dead. A whole bunch of new characters from what I could see, and the gameplay looks like it'll include some day time scenes. I'm tired of the cliché of games adding chainsaws to everything, but I'm sure it's making lots of others happy.
The game is exclusive to the Xbox 360 and PC again, with a release date of November 17 2009.

Dave Corris (Corris): Very cool trailer, pity there was no game play footage, but what it showed looked to be some awesome fun when it is released.

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): Really surprised by this move to be honest, as this easily could have and probably should have been released as DLC. It just seems to go against everything Valve has done in the past as far as value and support for a game, but if anyone deserves to make more money, it is them, so who am I to be mad at them. Agree with Andy though, although I am sure it is going to be fun, the whole chain-saw thing is definitely a bit played out.

Garrett Dodd (rajputwarrior): Didn't see this coming as the last game in the series is still relatively new. The first one is great, so I looking forward to see what Valve does with the franchise. Can't wait to try this out.

Crackdown 2

Andrew: I'm literally over the moon that the game was announced. As soon as I heard the agility orb sound effect I knew what it was. The game is being developed by Ruffian, another Scottish developer which I'm also pleased about. Ruffian have promised a better single player story, a whole load of customizing options, more co-op, guns, cars and explosives. I'm really hyped for the title already.

There are some obvious changes which have come from the switch in developers, the game was noticeably less cell shaded and had a more realistic look. I hope it's not too different though and game is still easily recognizable as Crackdown.

Dave Corris (Corris): I never played the first, but have seen it being played on multiple occasions, and have friends that swear by it, now that a sequel is coming, it can only be a good thing for those that loved the first.

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): I knew it literally from the first one second of the trailer. I just wish we saw some game-play footage. Regardless, I am very psyched about this game, loved the first one, so any improvement on that is nothing but a good thing.

Garrett Dodd (rajputwarrior): Never been a fan of the series, but this trailer looked amazing. I honestly have an unopened copy of the game sitting on my bookshelf, and this trailer motivated me to open it up and try it out. Should be good when it comes out.

Joy Ride

Andrew: This game was clearly for the casual gamers out there. Very impressed they are making it free to download and play for everyone, backed with a lot of community share features. I'll probably check it out, but I don't see myself playing it for very long.
It should be a nice supplement for the Xbox holiday and I'm glad to see it use the NXE Avatars.

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): Good thing it is free, as now I will check it out. If it was not free, I would have passed for sure.

Forza Motorsport 3

Andrew: We all knew it was coming and apparently its going to be the definitive driving game this generation. I actually believe them. I can't wait to drive the Audi R8 in the game, definitely one of my favourite cars right now. The new community features look awesome as well, the synchronized race video looks like a lot of fun. I expect we'll see a lot more on the community side closer to release as Turn 10 never disappoint in that area. Very shocked it's releasing so soon as well, October is really not far away at all.

Dave Corris (Corris): Looked good what was shown, it might have been the colours that looked a little off to me, that gave it a more, unrealistic edge, but when it was gotten into it looked very cool, and more cars, community features and now HD recording and editing is going to make a real solid racing game that very well could surpass what Sony have built up in the GT franchise.

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): I think we all knew it was coming, but now it is official. I am going on the record now saying it is indeed the Gran Turismo killer. Just looked amazing, just flipping around in the car looked so unreal, and I finally have a reason to use my MS Wireless Racing Wheel again (which was not cheap).

Garrett Dodd (rajputwarrior): While this game looked good, and a lot of people are definitely looking forward to it, anyone calling this a Gran Turismo killer doesn't have their head on straight. While having 400 cars is nice, the last GT game alone had 700 and unprecedented amount of customizations. I love racing games and will place this when it comes out, but I don't see it beating Polyphony's offering. And in terms of graphics, Gran Turismo's footage (even though it old) still looks better then this game in my opinion.

Splinter Cell Conviction

Andrew: Finally! The game looks like a proper Splinter Cell now. I was never sold on the first trailers and demos they showed back in 2007 but my confidence has been restored in the franchise. I really like some of the art directions like including mission objectives and past story lines in the game with the white text and projections.
Another game lined up for the Xbox this fall, things are definitely stacking up.

Dave Corris (Corris): Looked very nice, the detail on the first location like the floor was pretty damn awesome.
And I really like the way the missions are set out, everything is part of the environment with mission names over the actual levels, fits in nicely, and it looks like it isn't going to take you out of the game.

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): Wow. Most impressive showing of the presentation for me by far. Have always been a huge fan, and it appears the time this title used to disappear and change direction really has paid off big. Just little things like the Objectives being text based on actual objects in perspective made the visuals outstanding to me. Never-mind the fact the game-play looked phenomenal. Loved it.

Garrett Dodd (rajputwarrior): This game looked really cool and I love the open world approach. The game looked intense, and that's putting it lightly. Sam Fisher is a certified badass now and I cannot wait to play this game. The way they presented the objectives was pretty unique as well.

Halo 3 ODST

Andrew: It was great to see the game finally in game. It looks like it will please a lot of Halo fans who always wanted more fights on Earth. I'm not too sure I will enjoy the stealth elements of gameplay, but I like playing in squads and there looks to be a lot of that in ODST. If it wasn't for the sharped eye gamers over at Bungie forums, I would have been totally blown away by the announcement of Halo Reach. Very nice adding the beta to ODST, it proved to work well with Halo 3 and Crackdown. I'm surprised it will be launching next year as well.

Dave Corris (Corris): ODST looks really cool, while not graphically intense like other games shown today, what it does seem to do is take the story telling mechanic behind previous Halo games even further.
I am not one that understood the hype behind Halo 3, but ODST looks far better to me, and coming with reach, well why wouldn't you want it?

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): Ironic that MS's flagship series was by far the least impressive game visually out of all of the full title releases. It makes me think that perhaps we have seen the best this series had to offer. Still, I have always preached and I do believe graphics do not mean good game-play, and I am expecting the same solid game-play that the series is known for with a few changes to accommodate the new playable character naturally.

Garrett Dodd (rajputwarrior): It's Halo, and it's made by Bungie. If that alone doesn't excite you I don't know what to tell you. This game is going to rock.

Alan Wake

Andrew: I was never interested in Alan Wake before when it was first shown a few years back, but I'm really excited for it now. Watching the game in motion for the first time really reminded me of Silent Hill 1.

Dave Corris (Corris): Finally we got to see Alan Wake, and it looked really awesome.
The play between Light and Dark worked well, and the narrative seems to be a great way to tell the story, almost like you are reading it out of a book, which is what they intended, very cool.

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): Alan. Oh Alan. I am not sure what has happened over the past two years, but the unbridled excitement I once had to play you has definitely fizzled, even with seeing the few minutes of game-play today. It looked like slo-mo was way overused, and it looked like a really polished Silent Hill rather than a complete new experience. That may not wind up being such a bad thing at all, however with all of the hype, I just expected more. And still a year to go...

Garrett Dodd (rajputwarrior): While I didn't really care for the game coming into the E3, the latest trailer looks really cool. This story driven thriller reminded me a lot of Silent Hill (only played the first one...) but it looks like it has a lot of potential. It reminded me a lot of the movie The Mothman Prophecies, which i really liked.

Metal Gear Rising

Andrew: It finally happened; Microsoft has secured one of the last big exclusives from Sony. I really wasn't expecting the news, even after the build up from the Kojima website. He is a master in playing mind games and I didn't want to get my hopes up, but he actually pulled through this time and gave gamers want they want. Very excited.

Dave Corris (Corris): One of the biggest and longest rumours were that MGS4 would be coming to the Xbox 360, now instead Metal Gear Solid Rising is taking its place with Raiden in the lead, very cool, I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with this game.

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): DAMN. That is all I have to say. A huge blow to Sony, but honestly I think all gamers knew deep down this was a huge possibility. You really cannot blame Kojima for wanting to sell more games, and quite frankly he deserves to do so. I also loved the fact he came out to the "alert" sound. That was classic.

Garrett Dodd (rajputwarrior): Honestly, when I heard the codec sound I thought i had received a text message, but this time it was Kojima popping up on Microsoft's stage which was an even nicer surprise. This could be one of the final stabs at Sony in terms of game exclusives. All they have left now in terms of AAA titles I see are God of War and Gran Turismo. Sony has to be investing heavily in new IPs now. 

Facebook, Last.fm and Twitter

Andrew: I use them all daily and I'm so psyched to use them on my Xbox 360. During the conference I was saying to the guys I really wish they picked up Twitter instead of Facebook, and then they go ahead and announce its coming to Xbox Live too. Fantastic news. Now all they need to do is partner with Spotify and I'm set!

Dave Corris (Corris): As someone who uses these services, its great to see all of them built in, while there is no browser, now you get it fully functioning no matter what.
Some very cool addons.

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): I am not on Facebook, and I only use Twitter to do my condensed Video Game Reviews, so I do not really have any need for either of these two on a console. I have never checked out Last.fm, so I am eager to see what that is all about for the slight chance I may find some new music, so I am all for that.

Instant Play, Netflix and Sky TV

Full information here.

Andrew: Really excited for Sky tv, especially now I know we don't need any other piece of hardware other than the Xbox itself. I'll be purchasing a subscription to the service right away, providing they get the pricing right. If it's too expensive I'd rather have the service installed in my home. Great news about Netflix and the expansion of movies and tv shows on Marketplace. I expected to hear more about the Zune HD, but I suppose that'll come at a later date.

Dave Corris (Corris): Great to finally see extra services coming to different parts of the world, a lot of people really wanted netflick type functionality, and now that it is coming in some form, it's only a step up.

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): 1080p. Instantly. Count me in. Also very happy to see the UK get some kind of service as well.

Garrett Dodd (rajputwarrior): I want to see this in action before I judge. I can't see this being very popular yet either because the amount of bandwidth that is going to be required to stream a 1080p movie is going to be a lot and ISP's caps are going to discourage this. It's good that Microsoft found another way to battle Blu-Ray though, which believe it or not, still haven't won the format war. Streaming seems to be the future.

Project Natal

Full information here.

Andrew: Wow, simply wow. This is going to change gaming forever. I was so freaked out when they demonstrated the Lionhead's game Milo and being able to speak to your video game. It was fantastic. I'm not too sure on the painting game, but the demo was extremely well done. I'll definitely be buying one of those cameras at launch. Whoever says Microsoft don't innovate was severely proven wrong today.

Dave Corris (Corris): Now Natal has me in two minds, its great to see the advancement of such technologies, and it worked very very well for some things, the paint demo with the elephant was funny, and cool.
Milo however was somewhat scary, I can see the advantages, say giving a kid a virtual friend, but taking away from real life is in some ways a step back, but getting there in the first place is a huge step for a games console.
I look forward to see how it improves as it comes to launch.

Larry Cooney Jr. (DirtyLarry): My mother always told me if you have nothing nice to say, do not say anything at all. With that said, I understand why MS is doing this, I totally do, and I do think it is great to see things advance as well, but I am not really all that interested at this point in time. Meaning, until it can be applied in a way that does not require me flailing my arms around the living room so my wife can laugh at me while I do so, I personally have no interest. No doubt, Milo was intriguing and the possibilities are endless, but for now and for a good while, consider me the old man who believes games are meant to be played with a keyboard and mouse then a controller.

Garrett Dodd (rajputwarrior): Cool and weird. When Microsoft demoed the family playing the games that was really cool. Being able to actually fight in a fighting game, kick a soccer ball, drive the F1 car was all cool. But when Peter Molyneaux demoed Milo, the next generation of kids invisible friends, I got kinda freaked out. It reminded me of sci-fi movies where the robots or AI start as friends, but eventually take over the world. While it would be cool to see where they take this in the long run, I think this is just the beginning of the controversial subject that is AI. Technology like this is going to push a lot of boundaries, but I am really looking forward to see what boundaries those are going to be.

Make sure to join us tomorrow where we do it all again.

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