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Microsoft’s E3 Press Briefing: The Skinny & The Fat

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Well after about 30min of driving from Hollywood we arrived at Samo High where Microsoft held their big E3 press briefing. It was in the theater in the back of the high school. They really hooked the place up as they usually do. They filled the cemented bleachers with Icelandic Glacier water and Microsoft asspads for comfort. The event was outdoors and believe it or not, before the night was over I was freezing my ass off.

e31.jpgAs we waited for the event to start, a screen saver came up on the huge screen with all of the gamer tags of the press who registered for the event. Even though it kept cycling through the same 100 or so names, I kept looking for mine to no avail. The event started with a band playing the Halo theme, which was very impressive. The lead was a girl playing the violin. I thought it was Miri Ben Ari at first. She looked just like her and she put that wood to work.

After the band played, Peter Moore wasted no time coming out and telling us how awesome Microsoft was doing with the Xbox 360. Ok, tell us something we don’t know. That was when the members of Harmonix came out and played an entire song for the crowd with their new Rock Band game.? You could see everything on the huge screen.? I think 2 or 3 times the game was paused accidentally by Peter Moore. Pure entertainment I tell ya. Rock Band will sell millions. It’s the ultimate party/karaoke game.

Shortly after we got to see some amazing gameplay footage of Call Of Duty 4, Assassin’s Creed, Madden 08 and a new Mass Effect trailer. They also showed a ton of new XBLA games, some of which were full fledged 3D action games, not unlike the ones you buy off the shelf. We also saw Microsofts answer to Mario Party ala Viva Pinata Party. It has over 50 mini games. Did Viva really do that well? They announced partnerships with Disney film brands. They are bringing a handful of their animated movies out of that vault again for Xbox Live Marketplace, all in HD. They are also bringing out a 360 version of Scene It, completely with 4 wireless controllers, all for the price of a standard Xbox 360 title. They also showed Super Puzzle Fighter HD but no Super Street Fighter HD. I guess that one is reserved for Capcom’s bag of surprises. Speaking of Capcom, they did show Resident Evil 5 footage. The game is set in what looks like Africa.? Not much was shown but of what was shown, think Dead Rising on steroids.

Microsoft kept reminding us that most of the games they were bringing out are exclusives. You gotta hand it to them,e34.jpg the market is theirs right now and they are going full steam ahead with it. I think I heard the term exclusive 7 times last night. Honestly, with all the exclusive titles they are getting, Sony is going to have to work harder on their first parties.? We got to see some Games for Windows clips of Gears Of War for XP and Vista.? Yeah you heard me right.? Game is gonna feature more multiplayer maps, a game editor and tighter graphics.

Games that blew me away? Assassin’s Creed and Call Of Duty 4. Just when I was about to write how sick and tired I am of first person shooters, I see the first live gameplay footage of COD4. The game will re-ignite the genre like Halo and Half-Life did years ago. It’s like, stealth meets FPS. You can’t just run in and shoot anymore. You have to do things proper to avoid being seen. You have to choose your targets wisely. Twitch skills are not needed…at least in the demo we saw.? Oh and on the japanese front, Naruto and Lost Odyssey were shown.? Lost Odyssey looked better than any Final Fantasy game I’ve ever seen.? Japanese gamers will eat this one up.

Assassin’s Creed was every bit as good as I thought it was going to be. The fight scenes were cool, but what was even more impressive was the crowds AI and the chase scene at the end of the demo. They said that every time you do the chase scene it could be different. The boss he was chasing was throwing people in the path, running and dodging in the crowds and eluding our player every step of the way. It was incredible.

e33.jpgJust when I thought the night would end without a Halo 3 demo, we saw what looked like a live action Halo film. They used REAL people and real backdrops. I thought it was the new Peter Jackson film. I haven’t checked my b-roll yet but I’m hoping it’s on there. Halo 3 looked sweet as hell. They’ve definitely taken it up a notch and expanded the game for a terrific finale.

The only major announcement from MS was the new console. Yes, there’s a new 360 coming out. It’s green and includes a copy of Halo 3. I don’t know if it’s an Elite or not but when I’m done with this I’m gonna dig for details. Peter Moore showed us the box but didn’t say anything about it. There was no word at all of any price drop. MS is sticking to their guns it seems. We very well may not see a price drop until Xmas season of this year.

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