Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Comments on Microsoft's Spectacular E3 2009 Press Conference!

MS's presscon started out slow but at some point really picked up steam. Granted, starting out with The Beatles: Rock Band is not a bad choice, but I think they spent too much time on it. Then again, EA must be a really important developer for MS, and, it is the BEATLES after all, and they deserve all the respect that they get.

On to what I thought were the most mind blowing points of the show:

1. Splinter Cell Conviction - a game I'd want to play for the story. It's too bad they had to kill off Sam's daughter but I suppose that's one way to raise the drama for the game. It's obvious Ubisoft is being influenced by Konami here, they want their character to be as memorable for players as Solid Snake by adding more melodrama. At the same time, the intensity is up a notch because since Sam is no longer tied to Third Echelon, he can use all his military skills without limit to get his revenge. This game is definitely worth a buy.

2. Forza Motorsport 3 - They've done it....they've finally done it. They've outclassed the Gran Turismo series, and this demonstration shows it. In-cockpit view is available for all the cars, apparently (which is amazing, considering the sheer number of cars!), the game runs at 60 FPS, the detail looks phenomenal, and more....! This is the game to get by the end of this year. I love how they made the game seem really exciting, unlike Gran Turismo's approach, which is just monotonous (though I know they're trying to go for 'classy')

3. Halo ODST/ Halo Reach - Unfortunately the feed started dying for me at this point so I didn't catch all the footage. ODST will be a sure hit once it gets released. I can't really say if it will have anything that I haven't seen before in other Halo games. I am looking forward to playing it, just to continue the series. Maybe this week will reveal more on whether or not it will have any kind of innovation which will make it succeed beyond the fact that it is a Halo sequel.

As for Halo Reach --- THAT's the game to watch. If you've read the novel 'Halo Fall of Reach', you know what I'm talking about.

4. Project NATAL - I was originally skeptical when I watched the first 'concept' video for it during the E3 presscon.

What blew me away completely, was that debut [actual] game that they showed off, Ricochet.

THAT GAME ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE A LOT OF FUN! And it really shows off the abilities of the technology.

The other games they demonstrated for Project Natal felt like concept/design ideas, far from actual, real games....Ricochet DOES take the cake, and show that the idea of having no controller other than yourself to play a game might actually work.

Another thing...Project Natal just made Nintendo's Wiimote controller a relic of the past.

Lastly, Microsoft's decision to BUNDLE the device with future Xbox 360s is a bold move, and a VERY VERY smart move. Traditionally, additional peripherals for consoles do very POORLY because it's hard to convince people to buy a new device. Having the device bundled with future systems removes this barrier, and encourages developers to make games for the device since practically every Xbox 360 owner will have one.

Yeah, I'm buying that device! Well worth it :)

5. Metal Gear Solid Rising announcement - This was expected and not a huge surprise for me. It's interesting how Microsoft didn't make it the center of their entire event, and I think they made the right decision. Metal Gear Solid games are great games, but they're not the type of games that make any system succeed in the market. It appeals to a certain niche, and while it's great that, finally, that niche is being served, it shouldn't be seen as the one game that can make one system succeed over another [as many online fanboys would have you think].

That said, it's good for Konami to finally acknowledge the success of the Xbox 360.

And they'll finally make some money in the United States, because they're supporting the most successful game system in the region by releasing the game for the Xbox 360.

As for the Playstation fans who might be heartbroken by losing another exclusive....well, I'm sure the game will also be released on the PS3. At least you don't get to swap discs?

6. Final Fantasy XIII Demonstration - Surprised they had ENGLISH VOICES working already; also surprised they had it working on the Xbox 360 this early. I always thought that what made development for FF games long was the conceptualization stage [coming up with designs, story, etc]; the actual work on the game itself must only have started some time when they announced the Xbox 360 version last year.

Overall, this was an extremely spectacular showing for Microsoft, they covered every single base for the Xbox 360 platform, and finally they have a very good solution to make the 360 appealing to even more gamers. Microsoft delivered on their promise to completely change the game with this press conference. I have no idea how Sony or Nintendo can upstage their event. They actually did a great job keeping most of their revelations secret; while it was already known they would show some games and the new motion controller, nobody had any clue how the games looked like, or how the controller worked. None of the buzz was lost when these games and controllers were shown; in fact, it made Microsoft an even stronger opponent for this generation of consoles for their rivals.

It was well worth waking up at 1:25AM in the morning for this one. Great show.

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