Well, gamers, it’s finally here! E3 (Electronics Entertainment Expo) started off with a bang as Microsoft took the floor Monday. There were surprises, amazements, and big reveals that set the bar excruciatingly high for PlayStation and Nintendo. Here is a quick recap of the 2009 Microsoft conference:
—->THE BEATLES ROCK BAND<—-
Rock Band is back with this new addition that features, you guessed it, The Beatles. This time around though, Harmonix is bringing the number of players from 4 to 6 with the addition of two new slots for back-up vocalists to join in the fun. The first 10 songs of the game were revealed and they include:
- “I Saw Her Standing There”
- “Hold Your Hand”
- “I Feel Fine”
- “Day Tripper”
- “I Am the Walrus”
- “Back in the USSR”
- “Octopus’s Garden”
- “Here Comes the Sun”
- “Get Back”
DLC includes the full Abbey Road album that will be released at the same time as the game. Release date is set for 09/09/09.
—->FACEBOOK, TWITTER, AND NEW MEDIA OPTIONS<—-
That’s right gamers, you will never have to leave your TV screen again! A limited version of Facebook will use the standard 360 dashboard menus and will include posting and viewing updates, adding friends, and viewing photos. You will be able to view friends and their gamercards together, as well as take screen shots of your fave games and post them to your profile. Twitter on the Xbox is just that…Twitter on the Xbox. From your console you can post your tweets and keep up with your friends. Both of these are expected to launch in Fall of 2009.
Microsoft then went on to announce Live Party, which allows you to view multimedia with friends on a virtual couch. This may sound familiar to you, since they announced this last year but never really followed through with it. Netflix is getting revamped with the ability to (finally) access your queue from the console. Also, users will now be able to listen to music from the Xbox Live interface thanks to a partnership with last.fm. Coming Soon.
—->HALO 3 ODST AND HALO: REACH<—-
Halo fans are in for a treat! Not only was Halo 3 ODST demoed, but we got to see a trailer of Halo: Reach, which looks like it may be a prequel to the series and possibly could follow the events of the novel Fall of Reach. ODST takes place before Halo 3, and looks to be more of a stealth driven game. It features weapons with silencers and low light visors, which will really change the feel of Halo for a lot of players.
Halo 3 ODST is available on 09/22/09, and those who purchase it will get an invite to a multiplayer beta of Halo: Reach.
—->METAL GEAR SOLID: RISING<—-
Hideo Kojima has finally decided to cash in on the Xbox 360 community that has been waiting a long time for this moment. Metal Gear is coming to Xbox! Whether MGS: Rising will be exclusive to the 360 is yet to be known, but three things were made certain: Raiden is the star. Lightning Bolt Action. Sneak in. God only knows what that means, but it sounds incredible!
—->BIG FRANCHISE SEQUELS AND SURPRISES<—-
These upcoming hits include:
- Left 4 Dead 2 Hopefully to include new weapons and zombies.
- Crackdown 2
- Forza 3
- Splinter Cell: Conviction Amazing graphics and an environmental real-time HUD.
- Modern Warfare 2 Trading in the sepia tones for shades of white and grey. Has a Double-Oh-Seven look to it.
- Shadow Complex for XBLA
- Tony Hawk: Ride gets a new skateboard shaped controller for this game.
- Final Fantasy XIII Not much is known yet except that it’s very pretty (of course) and to be released sometime in Spring of 2010.
This by far was the defining moment of the Microsoft Conference. Natal uses a camera and voice recognizing device to “remove the controller” from your gaming experience. Facial recognition will automatically log you in, voice recognition and commands will help you navigate as well as simple swipes of your hand to flip through the interface. A teaser reel showed interesting concepts for the use of this new way to play – from racing to martial arts games. Natal also promises to be compatible with all current versions of the 360, so you don’t need a new console to get in on the action!
Kudo Tsunoda gave a demonstration which included a painting application (which was choppy, but inspiring) and an app that required the player to bounce balls off their avatar’s body to hit objects for points. While these were obviously baby steps into this new vision, they were none the less amazing. Nothing could prepare me for what they showed us next, though.
Peter Molyneux was introduced to show off an interactive little boy named “Milo.” I am not sure what to make of Milo just yet. A demo showed a real woman standing in front of a screen that showed Milo in his world. A dialog began between the woman and the boy, in which Milo appeared to react to the woman’s posture, emotional tones, and voice recognition in real-time. Other interactions included Milo “throwing” the woman a pair of goggles to wear, the woman seeing her reflection in a pond and creating ripples by using hand motions, and the woman drawing a picture for Milo. She then held the picture up to the camera, and immediately Milo reached up and grabbed the picture to “see” it. Milo apparently could recognize that the object was a piece of paper, and could tell the shape of the drawing as well as the colors used. Obviously, this demo was rehearsed, which made it hard to believe that it wasn’t just scripted/programmed to appear so realistic. But Molyneux promised that a small group from the conference audience would get a chance to “meet” Milo and find out for themselves.
Molyneux explained that they wanted to change the way that people interacted with characters in games. I can see where this could be an interesting draw for games of the future, but at what expense? Will the BFF’s of the future only exist when you’re logged into your console? While definitely amazing, there was an air of “Terminator” that surrounded sweet, innocent, little Milo.