We're live-blogging the Microsoft press conference! Click the tag for a minute by minute account of the big announcements made and all the excitement.
The overall theme of the conference: Xbox seems to be trying very hard to position themselves as a company that supports the core gaming community (Fallout 3, Gears 2, FF XIII) while making new in-roads into the casual demographic. A lot of time was spent on initiatives that position the 360 as a family entertainment hub--whether it's a deal with Netflix or the new, Wii-like avatars and a big focuse on family friendly titles.
Read the point-by-point account under the cut.
12:00: Final Fantasy XIII announced! Sorry you guys didn't get a chance to check it out. It's very visually impressive.
- Amazing looking trailer! Huge, bright open worlds landscape in the trailer.
- First FF game on the 360.
11:54: Head of Square Enix takes the stage.
- Infinite Undiscovery available Sept 2 in North America. September 5th in Europe. Sept. 11 in Asia.
- Star Ocean: the Last Hope in Spring 2009.
- The Last Remnant: Available this holiday season. Trailer shown. Release: November 20th, 2008. Available in Games for Windows, too.
11:49: Alex Rigopolous of Harmonix takes the stage to talk Rock Band 2.
- Guns and Roses "Chinese Democracy" tracks available on Rock Band 2.
- Full songlist announced.
- Bob Dylan's "Tangled Up in Blue"
- AC-DC is coming to Rock Band 2!
- Everything is "forward compatible" so original tracks and DLC from the first game will be playable in RB 2.
- There will be "over 500 songs" by 2008.
11:45: Pop songstress Duffy takes the stage and sings "Mercy," her own song using Lips.
11:43: We see commercial for Lips, the Xbox's upcoming karaoke game, with shiny microphone. Keiichi Yano, creator of Elite Beat Agents, takes stage.
- Lips allows you to "sing songs from your own collection."
- Microphone is motion-sensing, so interactive dancing is possible.
11:39: Kai Huang from Red Octane takes the stage to talk Guitar Hero World Tour
- More than 85 songs at launch.
- Xbox 360 users will be able to download three new REM songs before anyone else.
- Metallica will release their Death Magnetic album on the Guitar Hero platform simultaneous with "real" release of the album.
11:30: You're in the Movies shown.
- Game allows you to make movies with your friends.
- Group of Xbox execs are brought out to test it.
- Make "short, campy" movies where you and your friends are the stars.
- Uses LiveVision camera to play mini-games. then the footage of you running/jumping/dancing is edited into an unrelated parody movie. Kind of interesting... but we wonder if we'd play it more than once.
- An editorial note: Just watching these executive play camera-enable mini-games is awkward. I can't imagine how they must feel.
- Comes with a Live Vision camera.
- All together it's very Wii-like.
11:29: Scene it: Box Office Smash trailer is shown.
- Quiz game is the first game with avatars.
11:25: Shane Kim takes the stage. Shows off Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts trailer.
- Very stylized graphics seem like an ode to the cartoons of the 40s.
- Release of original BK on Live.
11:24: Netflix partnership announced! The Netflix library available on Xbox at no additional cost. Plus, you'll be able to "share" movies with your friends and watch at the same time.
11:23 Portal Still Alive coming in the Fall! It's a 360 exclusive.
11:18: New Arcade titles:
- Geometry Wars 2 announced
- Sequel to Galaga, Galaga Legions announced.
11:09: John Shafter, head of Live, takes the stage.
- This fall, a brand new dashboard will be released. New interface is simpler to use. It looks a little like iTunes.
- Avatars: Wii-style caricatures that allow you to make a digital representation of yourself. Change your pants, hair and face. Whatever. It's happening this Fall.
- The avatars are meant to not be just toys. They'll be seen "in games, on the web." To me they look like the exact middle between a Mii and the PlayStation Home avatars.
- "Live Party" allows you to party up with friends to either play games, share photos, just hang out. Stream photos to the entire party.
- Xbox live Primetime allows you to play gameshow style games. First example: 1 vs. 100 over Xbox Live.
- "Combines the best in television and the best of games." It's "for the whole family." There are prizes. Like real prizes.
11:05: We take a look at some PowerPoint slides that prove Microsoft is awesome.
- Microsoft declares they will win the console war. They say they will sell more consoles this generation than the PlayStation 3.
- Consumers have spent more than a billion dollars on Xbox since 2005. That's billion with a "B".
10:55: Cliff Bleszinski shows off Gears of War 2 co-op.
- Sinkhole level. Graphics look Amazing. Fire effects are by far the best looking we have ever seen.
- New mode: "Horde" 5-player co-op where players take on "wave after wave" of locusts
- Nov 7th release.
10:50: Peter Molyneaux shows off Fable 2.
- Fable 2 allows you to create custom world, that responds to what you've done. But there is co-op. You invite friends in to share your world and interact with it. While you're playing your solo game, you can see your friends "in" your world in the form of orbs. Click it, then wait for a visit from a friend from another world.
- Game allows you to raise children, have a wife. Get pregnant. The whole nine.
- Oct 2008 release.
10:43: Live Resident Evil 5 demo.
- Online Co-Op mode confirmed. Second character a woman. Sheva. Another member of the BSA.
- Friday March 13, 2009--Worldwide release.
10:30: After an intro from Don Mattrick, Senior Vice President, Interactive Entertainment Business Unit, where we are advised to "fasten our seatbelts," the show kicks off with a bang in the form of a Fallout 3 trailer. shown off by Todd Howard, Executive Producer, Bethesda Softworks. The trailer features a live action section shot like a 1950s governmental education movie, then quickly turns into a demo of the post nuclear shooter. Yes. It's violent, bloody, and, from all we've heard, huge!
- Third or first person view.
- Hacking of terminals
- Huge open world
- "Perks"-- character customization option--Example: Bloody mess; enemies die in ridiculously bloody ways.
10:15: The Microsoft press conference is held in a theater in the L.A. Convention center. It's a Little like a rock concert: Probably 1000 games professionals and journalists types in a massive hall, waiting for word from on-high about what's up with Microsoft.
The pre-show festivities include a couple of funny videos where people on the street are asked to define different game terms. "Pwn," "NWB" "RPG," Etc. Very funny, and highlights the theme of the press conference this year: That Microsoft is bridging the gap between casual and hardcore gamers.