I’m here in beautiful Santa Monica to give you an unedited look at the Microsoft Press Briefing. You have to give the Microsoft folks props for promptness. They said the briefing would start at 8:30 and glory be, it did. Now the interesting stuff happens, prior to the event someone asked what does MS have to talk about that we don’t already know or have seen. I mean we’ve already played Halo 3, so that’s no longer a mystery. We’ve seen some footage from Grand Theft Auto IV, The X-Box Elite is out, as is the long promised Hard Drive and HD DVD drive. What’s left, how can they surprise us?
The event opened with a performance by a band called “Corporeal” from Illinois who did a little musical tribute to Halo. Peter More opened the event by talking about Halo 3, then promising that for the first time ever, every game they talk about at this briefing will be available by the end of the year. He then walked over and started jamming on the new game Rock Band. This game is amazing, there’s a drum kit, microphone, guitar, everything but a keyboard. Through X-Box Live you can build a band.
After that was the debut of Viva Piñata Party Animals, another game in the Viva Piñata franchise. We then get more on Mass Effect from MS Game Studios. The trailer looked amazing on the 100 foot screen, and will be available this November. Ah, now it’s time for the numbers BS, where Moore says the 360 has sold 5.6 million units verses the Wii’s 2.5 million and over 65% of multiplatform 3rd Party games are on the 360.2.4 billion dollars have been spent on the 360, half of all consumer spending.
Spiderman Friend or Foe looks awful, there’s a new Tom Clancy, finally some RPGs are coming for the 360, so far the 360 Line Up is looking strong. EA has a new IP called The Orange Box, but the crowd pleaser of the night is definitely Rock Band, it’s everything you love about Guitar Hero only more.
The popular board game SceneIt is coming to the X-Box Live and will have a brand new controller. That looks like a colorful remote control. Naruto: Rise of the Ninja is coming to the X-Box 360 as an exclusive title from Ubi-Soft. Based on te cartoon series, the game has a really slick anime look to it.
Reggie Bush comes out to demo Madden 08 for us. All EA Titles are going to run at twice the speed on the 360 has they did last year. Xbox Live now has 7 million members. Sonic The Hedgehog and Golden Axe are now available for download on Live. $125 million dollars have been spent on downloadable Entertainment and now Disney is jumping on the bandwagon by providing their library of content to X-Box Live and the partnership is starting now with several Disney titles available
Now.Shane Kim the head of Microsoft Game Studios comes out to talk about more games. He starts by showing us PGR 4. New features include Motorcycles, and Video/Photo community upload.
Lost Odyssey is a sprawling RPG from the creator of Final Fantasy about an Immortal searching through the centuries for his destiny. The game looks gorgeous. Viva Pinata, and Gears of War are coming to the Games for Windows Platform. Cliffy B comes out to demo G.O.W. for Windows. The game will include a level editor. Features five new single player Chapters, new multiplayer modes and some more surprises.
Games For Windows Live platform will be built into Epic’s Unreal Engine 3. Some folks from Infinity Ward are now giving us a demo of Call of Duty 4 and it looks just as good as COD 2 did. The Level they showed was a “stealth” jungle level where you had to follow one of your guys through the jungle and quietly take out sentries while avoiding being spotted. There was a neat little moment where the soldier was laying flat in the grass while being surrounded by enemy troupes. Now I don’t know if it’s a case of dumb A.I. not being able to spot you, or your cover being so good that the A.I. doesn’t spot you is anyone’s guess. Graphically speaking it the jungle looked lush.
We then got a peek at Resident Evil 5 for the 360, the full trailer will be available on X-Box Live July 26th, and Moore announced that GTA IV on the X-Box will have 2 Full Episodes available in 2008.
Next up we get a live demo of Assassin’s Creed and the cityscape of early Jerusalem looked amazingly detailed with no draw-ins, the city really felt alive and vibrant, the most realistic city portrayal ever in a video game. The game faltered a bit when they showed us the really lame fighting sequence.
After that the show ended where it started with Peter Moore talking about Halo 3. We first get a glimpse of what a Live Action WETA Halo would look like with a short film, after the first 30 seconds I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be looking at because everything in this “Live Action” short looked like very early, cheesy CGI. This was the only point in MS’s otherwise excellent presentation where they failed to impress. After this intro video, Moore held up the 360 Halo Special Edition Box which is decked out in “Halo Green.” The evening ended with another 2 minute look at Halo 3, this time we got a peak at the single player action.
Despite the really crappy atmosphere and surroundings, the boys and girls at Microsoft came to play and their line-up of titles was one of the strongest I’ve seen in years. Sony and Nintendo will have a hard act to follow and will have to bring it. It’ll be interesting to see if Microsoft keeps it’s promise of releasing every one of the titles (except RE 5) they showed tonight by the end of the year.
I will have photos from the briefing tonight, as well as picks and news on Sony and Nintendo’s Press Conferences, check this space for more scoops.