This Is Entertainment’s comprehensive E3 Summary: Part 3 – Microsoft

Here it is then, the one you’ve all been waiting for, at least I hope so! After watching Microsoft’s mammoth E3 press conference in full I’m going to digest that down as much as I can to get you all clued up on the latest and greatest information.

You may have heard a few things blowing around on the internet, so first let’s answer a few quick questions:

– What do you mean there’s going to be Metal Gear Solid on Xbox 360?!
– Well the creator of MGS announced the next title: Metal Gear Solid – Rising, will be coming to 360, but there’s little chance MGS4 will make it over as well, sorry about that! Don’t rule out MGS1 on Xbox Live Arcade though…

– I hear Microsoft is partnering up with enough different companies to be declared serial bigamist of the year?
– That’s right, well, the partnering part at least, not sure what you’re going on about…MS announced partnerships with Facebook, Twitter, Sky, Last.fm AND Netflix. (more on some of these later on)

– So Xbox is trying to be some sort of all-in-one box of entertainment then really?
– That’s the idea. They’re pushing all possible avenues to bring gamers full 1080p HD video with instant streaming, music, social networks, everything you could possibly want bar going and getting you another beer from the fridge basically.

– Halo Reach? ODST? WHAT IS GOING ON?!
– Calm down! Yes there are now officially two Halo games in the works over at Bungie. Halo 3: ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) is an add-on to Halo 3 which will include 3 Halo 3 multiplayer maps and a 10+ hours campaign focusing on the ODST troops around New Mombasa, set between Halo 2 and Halo 3. Halo Reach is a “top” secret Halo project Bungie have been working on. My reliable sources tell me that from the name it would suggest it has something to do with the first Halo ring over Reach, which was destroyed in the first game and was a pivotal moment in the war. Not much official info on it exists just yet, but it’s due out late 2010, for now, just check out the teaser trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqIEvH7sGQ0

– What on EARTH is this Project Natal thing?
– That’s a very interesting question. In a nutshell it’s some fancy new technology which lets YOU be the controller, including facial and voice recognition and full motion capture without the need for any strange suits or anything. It’s essentially MS’ answer to the Wii’s motion capture, but done in true MS style…they had to go one better. If it really works like it claims to then it genuinely a big step forward in potential for MS, but the videos seem a little contrived to be convincing, take a look for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oACt9R9z37U

Also, you can check out a blog post on Natal from a good friend of mine, Andy Hemphill: http://tinyurl.com/ndz9m7

Now, I think it’s time we had a look at what’s the most important thing about a games console, aside from the fancy deals and new technology, which is its games.

The first game to take the floor was Tony Hawk Ride, which uses a skateboard controller to track the gamers motion and movements on the skateboard, and let them have more control than the plethora of Tony Hawk titles of years gone by. The man himself was there to show it off, just the first of MS’ star guests of E3, but despite the ‘bigging up’ it still could be an excellent and innovative game.

Next up was a biggie: Modern Warfare 2. So major it made the cover of the latest OXM, the game is the sequel to the phenomenally successful Game of the Year that was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The trailer, which you really should have seen by now (but here it is if not), was impressive enough, but the gameplay shown was the most interesting element. It sees a new recruit, codename ‘Roach’, following COD4 hero ‘Soap’ McTavish in a snowy blizzard through which the player must claim an icy rock face to the next encounter. The weather plays a massive part, marking the shift between stealth, as you sneak around stealthily before the blizzard clears and colossal frantic fire-fight takes place. The game looks outstanding and the single player was a personal high point so it’s good to see that Infinity Ward haven’t relied on the predecessors ridiculous success on Live.

Joyride, a FREE XBLA game, will be the first racing title to use your avatars for some funky Mario Kart-esque action. The game certainly gives a decent platform for UGC, and while you do have to pay to get the best tracks and cars, only one of you’re friends has to have bought them to play them with you, which is a neat idea.

Teaser trailers for Crackdown 2, Left 4 Dead 2 and Splinter Cell: Conviction mark the emphasis of MS’ focus on ‘Only on Xbox’ titles this E3, and admittedly come of impressively for it. Conviction in particular looks to break free a little from the traditional Splinter Cell format, as Fischer takes off his tri-goggles and dons a distinctly Bruce-Willis-in-Die-Hard attitude as he tries to find out who killed his daughter. A couple of slick design features make this release stand out, namely super-imposing credits and objectives on the landscape of the levels, immersing you in the world while keeping the real-time narrative going, and a refreshingly tasteful use of slow-mo.

Not to be left out, Epic Games, the kings of Gears of War, demoed their old-school 2.5D side-scrolling platformer, which showed a nice level of depth, ironically, for the genre through Xbox Live Arcade.

Halo was always going to get some hype, and the play-through of ODST delivered everything fans of the series have been waiting for, complete with ill-fated TV show Firefly voice actors, which is always a plus.

Natal proved to top off what was near to being a continuous round of applause for most of the press briefing, but where can I hear all this news for myself I hear you ask? Just head over to Gamespot to check out their full press conference video, but be sure you have two hours to kill!

The year looks set to be a good one, and if MS delivers on what it has promised then it will certainly give Nintendo some sales figures to contend with by the time the Christmas spending spree begins.

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