Monday, June 1, 2009

E3: Microsoft press conference

Welcome to the 2009 edition of the Gaming Geek's Microsoft E3 live blog. I'm coming to you live from ... well, live from my bedroom, since I have too many responsibilities in the Pojo Sports Department to fly off to Los Angeles. So yes, these live updates will be based off G4's live coverage of the press events.

There are upsides to having to watch the action on TV though. For one, I'm watching a great French Open match between Jelena Jankovic and some unknown teenager named Cirstea right now waiting for 1 p.m. ... it's not exactly a consolation for missing the trip to LA, but I can lie to myself, right?

Anyway, for all of you unable to get to LA and unable to get to a TV to watch G4, let me be your eyes and ears for the next couple of hours. As soon as G4's coverage of Microsoft's press event begins at 1 p.m., start clicking that refresh button for running updates.

1 p.m.: Kevin Perreira, Morgan Webb and Adam Sessler welcome us to the coverage... and Kevin is wearing a jacket with sleeves far too short for his arms ... Cirsta just went up 6-5 on Jankovic in the third set, by the way.

1:03 p.m.: G4 just showed a graphic with a countdown to the start of Microsoft's presentation ... 21 minutes away. Guess we have a little more waiting to do than anticipated.

1:05 p.m.: The first mention of what is rumored to be Microsoft's biggest announcement of the day -- the possibility of an Xbox motion controller. Meanwhile, lots of filler material from G4.

1:10 p.m.: During a big boring look back at the growing "Halo" vs. "Gears of War" rivalry, G4 shows a graphic letting us know Steve Wiebe's "Donkey Kong" world record attempt will begin at 1 p.m. on Tuesday. It'll be streamed live online and parts will be shown on TV.

1:15 p.m.: I have to say, from a journalistic standpoint, G4 has done a very nice job using this filler time to cover all the bases a complete newbie would need to know before watching the coming press conference ... then I remember no COMPLETE noobs would feel the need to watch this press conference, so this is just a giant waste of time to discuss how Xbox Live is popular. On with the presser already!

1:18 p.m.: As we continue to wait, Cirstea is ahead now 8-7 in the third set. Maybe it would have been more interesting to have live blogged on that match?

By the way, am I the only one who questions why G4 has an HD channel when it never uses HD cameras?

1:20 p.m.: Apparently Morgan Webb loves the Xbox Live avatars. Had to be someone out there that does.

1:22 p.m.: Cirstea just fired a forehand into the net ... oh, yeah, it's a commercial break. Meanwhile, as deuce, down 8-7 in the third set, Jankovic is starting to act injured. Biggest whiner in tennis.

1:26 p.m.: Finally, the lights come down and the curtain comes up.

1:27: Microsoft begins it's event with a look at "Rock Band: Beatles." Opening with a multi-platform game? Really?

It does look gorgeous, though.

1:29: An explanation of who the Beatles are. Really guys? What the hell?

1:31: A "live performance" of "Day-Tripper." And they're not even showing screens from the game. I'm close to flipping back to Tennis. Anyone have any rotten vegetables to throw?

1:34: More Beatles, this time showing in-game footage and some of the songs that will be available. Again boys, this is multi-platform. Show us something from MICROSOFT!

1:35: Apparently I missed the ending of the Jankovic/Cirstea match. Yes, I flipped back, this is ridiculous that Microsoft is spending so much of its hour and a half on "Rock Band: Beatles."

1:38 We're thanking people important to the making of the game. Yes, we're still on this crap.

1:39: Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison were just brought on stage. I think Microsoft missed the Yoko portion of the Beatles history when recapping earlier.

1:40: Wow -- I don't think I stand corrected, but RINGO STARR and PAUL McCARTNEY just took the stage. They say they love the game, thank the fans and make an exit. McCartney: "Thanks for having us on your game show."

As impressive as that was, was it all really necessary? Maybe I'm just in a bad mood today.

1:42: After 15 minutes, Microsoft's VP takes the stage to talk about - GASP - Microsoft!

1:43: Biggest news of the day -- Microsoft is showing NO GRAPHS during their presentation! When will G4 go to commercial?

1:44: TONY HAWK on stage to unveil a SKATEBOARD CONTROLLER for the new game "Tony Hawk: Ride." And yes, it is motion sensing.

1:45: A trailer for the game ... "If you have an interest in skateboarding but didn't want to put yourself in a position to get injured, here's your chance."

1:47: The trailer includes a look at people using the Skateboard Controller, and yes, it looks like it works. It also looks like a Wii Balance Board with curves.

1:48: A trailer for "Modern Warefare 2," followed by an on-stage demo. The section they're showing actually has some of the best looking arctic scenery I've seen in an action game.

On-stage demos of a First-person shooter are pretty boring when there are No Enemies for miles. Find someone to shoot already!

Finally, we're shooting people. And "Modern Warefare 2" is really a pretty game. The smoke from things on fire looks fantastic. Smoke is one aspect of scenery in shooters that is rarely utilized well.

1:57: Creators of "Final Fantasy XIII" take the stage. Remember a year ago when this game stole the show at the last minute?

One of them has a controller in his hand...

Yes, an on-stage demo of the battle mechanics. Pretty pretty turn-based fighting with active-time gauges. .... And we also get to see what a summons looks like, showing off Odin... and from the looks of it, the summon mechanics are much like "Final Fantasy X," with the summoned Odin taking the place of the heroes in battle.

Spring 2010 release announced. So long to wait...

2:02: From this moment on, everything shown is Xbox 360 Exclusive. This is what I'm talking about.

2:03: Cliffy B comes on stage to announce an Xbox Live exclusive from Epic Games.

The game is "Shadow Complex," a gorgeous side-scrolling action platformer, a 10-hour long campaing with tons of fighting and shooting.

The game will be out this summer, and it looks like "Metroid" fans will wet their pants over it.

2:06: "Joy Ride" is announced, an XBox Live kart racing game using your avatars.

FREE TO DOWNLOAD this winter, with additional cars and tracks to buy.

2:08: A trailer for "Crackdown 2."

2:09: Apparently we're in a string of trailers. Next up is "Left 4 Dead 2," coming in November.

2:10: Next up is "Splinter Cell: Conviction." Bam, Bam, Bam. The string ends with an on-stage demo.

Are you starting to get the picture here, Microsoft has got a LOT of big games coming out in the next year, and they want us to know it.

The demo includes an ability called the "Mark and execute," which seems like as soon as you mark a guy, Sam Fisher will shoot him in the head as soon as he has a shot ... kind of makes the game seem easy, huh? The fighting mechanics look amazingly fluid, though.

"Splinter Cell: Conviction" out this fall.

2:18: An announcement: "Forza Motorsport 3."

The game is gorgeous, and I don't just mean the scenery, the in-car graphics are pretty darn good too. Plus, apparently you can customize your own cars, allowing you to paint your own designs on the cars.

The game ships in October.

2:25: Time for one of the more awaited moments of the show, "Halo 3 ODST."

News tools include sound-suppressed weapons and light-sensitive visors.

The game will include plenty of flashbacks in which you fight as different soldiers. The idea is all these flashbacks explain exactly what happened in the city you're exploring.

September 22nd is the day the game will be available.

2:31: The premier of a "top-secret" Bungie game... "Halo Reach." A beta invitation will be included in "ODST."

2:33: On-stage demo for "Alan Wake," a mystery action game with a large super-natural aspect.

The demo looks very "Resident Evil," lots of darkness, lots of slow-moving hordes of badguys looking to maim, not shoot.

Game is out in Spring 2010, and I have to say I'm liking what I saw.

2:39: "Music is coming to Xbox Live." Last FM is joining XBox Live FOR FREE to Xbox Live Gold Members.

2:40: A Change to the Netflix service. You can now browse categories and add movies to your queue without needing a computer.

2:42: Video service is changed to "Zune Video Service." With full 1080p downloads that can be watched instantly. Launching this fall.

2:44: Watch Movies, TV and music with friends with "Live Party." ... Didn't they announce that last year and it never happened?

2:45: FACEBOOK on Xbox Live. I, personally, cannot stand "Facebook," but this is pretty big.

The interface looks like Xbox Live, not like Facebook always looks. You can also link avatars and your Xbox Live profile.

Facebook Connect will enable you to post screenshots and highlight videos from games to your Facebook.

2:48: TWITTER on Xbox Live. I, personally, cannot stand "Twitter," but this is pretty big.

BOTH coming in the Fall.

2:50: BIG News coming... Senior VP of Xbox Don Mattrick comes on the stage...

"Metal Gear Solid" franchise to XBox 360.

"Metal Gear Solid: Rising" coming to Xbox exclusively.

2:53: Mattrick is still on stage... big news coming again?

"Can we go beyond the controller? ... Can we make you the controller? We can."

OH MAN. Video games entirely controlled by your own motions. They're showing fighting games, racing games and even games in which you act like a monster.

You can supposedly "scan" in your own things like Skateboards and use them in games.

This looks like the most unbelievable technology this side of fizzy lifting drinks.

"Project Natal." ... Can I be the first naysayer who says this won't work properly for years?

"We can leap into a new era of interactive entertainment without having to launch a new console."

Stephen Spielberg takes the stage to support the project.

Again, to be the first naysayer ... Do we really want this?

3:03: An early demo of "Project Natal."

The Xbox recognizes who he is and signs him in automatically.

A demo of a game called "Richocet" in which you hit balls by moving ANY part of your body and move around in 3-D space.

These people are moving constantly. There is pretty incredible. Remember all those people claiming Wii is great for fitness? This looks like it actually is.

Another demo called "Paint Party" in which you paint with hand motions. The painting is pretty sloppy and unrefined. Still pretty cool.

Back a few years at the National Basketball Hall of Fame, I played a motion sensing game in which you could play one-on-one with legendary players. This looks like a much more refined version of that.

3:11: Peter Molineuyx on stage to talk "Project Natal."

Uh-oh. Peter is drinking the Kool-Aid, calling the controller a barrier. Tell me Peter isn't making the next "Fable" use this system.

Peter made a little boy you can interact with on screen.

Isn't this how the Terminators were created? Someone call John Connor.

3:18: We're starting to wrap things up, I think. But man oh man oh man oh man. In limited doses, "Project Natal" could be the biggest and best thing in gaming since the side-scroller.

Yup, we're all finished here.

Let it be known, I made the Terminator joke before Kevin just made it on screen. Anyway, I will be back a little later with more, for now, I need a break.

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