|Following on from Nintendo we take at the Microsoft Press Conference at this years E3, where there were not many surprises but all mighty twist at the end.
What is evident from Microsoft's conference is that they feel that they no longer to chase the hardcore and can keep them happy pretty easily and without effort. Their conference included demonstrations of Fallout 3, Resident Evil 5, Fable 2 and Gears of War 2 all games that had been previously announced and given hands on time with the press. Crucially two of these are also multiplatform. Whilst they did all look fantastic and offer plenty of surprises (surely few expected Fable 2 to actually be finished and Resident Evil 5 to have such a great co-op mode) it is hard not to feel disappointed that these were given so much time when they are sequels that have already been revealed. With regards to giving time to certain games it seems baffling that Microsoft omitted Bungie's big announcement because of time constraints, yet they managed to find the time to have Duffy up on stage sining a long to Lips, their new Singstar clone.
Cloning was a actually a good way to sum up this conference as feature after feature was revealed that has been seen else where. Whilst it is easy to jump on Microsoft's back for this there is reasoning behind it. Sony recently updated their firmware and are slowly but surely getting a service resembling Xbox Live, Microsoft needed to add features to justify their continued charging for Gold Membership.
Arguably the biggest 1st Party announcement wasn't even a game, it was the revealing of how they plan to reinvent the system through software, the heavily rumoured Dashboard update is coming in Autumn/Fall this year. Instead of a total revelation it takes the best features from a number of other game/media devices; it has a XMB/Wii Channels/ IPod Cover Flow navigation system and has their versions of the Mii system, the "imaginatively" titled Avatars. Despite a lot of people's misgivings about this new look there can be little denying its impact. The menu system does everything the old blades system did plus extra. Think of it as a menu driven version of Sony's Home service (still yet to be given a date), with gaming parties being created and then following each other where ever they go.
The middle section of the conference is probably best left unmentioned. Microsoft showed off Lips and In the Movies, a mixture of age old Eyetoy style games with admittedly neat movie creation. If the editing tools are flexible enough then this could prove to be a hit, but it didn't make for good conference viewing. Nintendo executives have made an event of their on stage tom-fooley at E3, their Microsoft equivalents just simply looked embarassing.
Live Arcade wasn't left out with a reveal of the new Galaga game, touted as the first true sequel being created by the team that did Pacman Championship Edition, as well as the four player Geometry Wars 2. Also present was the announcement of Portal; Still Alive which if rumours are to be believed is an expansion pack, what is known is that it will be XBL exclusive.
Of course it seems natural to end with the well the end. After the conference was seeming over, a movie came on to reveal that Final Fantasy XIII will be launching on Xbox 360 at the same time as PS3 in the US. This is a big slap in the face to Sony in the US and is blatantly obvious not a move to get more people buying their console but instead prevent fans of the series picking up a PS3 as well. It's a good move on Microsoft's part and has ensured renewed vigour in the endless fanboy wars.
Thats it for now, check back for our final round up of Sony's Conference.
Labels: E3, Features, Microsoft, Xbox 360