E3 09: Microsoft Press Conference

June 2, 2009

E3 is now in full swing and Microsoft kicked off the show in a big way. With all the pre-show leaks I had to wonder if Microsoft had anything left in their bag. A few of the announcements were pretty ho hum, but they rolled out a few that nobody saw coming.

Rock Band: The Beatles was something we have all seen so it was more of a simple plug for the new game. If you are a Beatles fan, I’m sure you can’t help but be giddy. I’m definitely going to pick it up when it drops later this year.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 looked sick to put it simply. I’ve never really gotten into Call of Duty and I doubt this one will pull me in, but it’s going to be a nice treat for FPS fans.

Final Fantasy XIII was dated for Spring of 2010 and the demo looked very nice. I’m not much of a Final Fantasy fan at all, but even I can appreciate what they are doing here.

I passed on the original Left 4 Dead despite the constant praise, but L4D2 will be released for PC and X360 on November 17, 2009. The trailer shown at the conference is below.

Crackdown was one of my favorite open world games and one of the only games of that style that managed to draw me in. Scottish developer Ruffian is working working on the sequel and promising more options, more guns, more cars, and a better single player story than the first game. I’m definitely excited about this one.

Microsoft also pulled the covers off Forza 3. Expect Forza and Gran Turismo to continue duking it out for top dog in the racing genre.

Splinter Cell Conviction looked really nice and it seems that Ubisoft is giving this title the attention that the SC franchise deserves.

Halo 3 ODST: What else can you say? It’s more Halo. I’m reserving judgment until this is released.

Metal Gear Rising: Another huge franchise that I have never really been a huge fan of. I’m glad to see MGS come to the 360 though as I’ve never been a big fan of console exclusives.

Facebook, Twitter, last.fm, Netflix, etc – With services that have massive user bases like these coming to the 360 can only serve to give you yet another way to update your followers. I can’t say that with all the other ways I can update Facebook or Twitter that I’ll ever take advantage of these features, but I guess it’s nice to have. Having just cancelled Netflix, the 1080p streaming is something I would have loved to see introduced sooner. It’ll be a great feature for users with enough bandwidth to accommodate it.

Project Natal – Controller-less gaming utilizing a 3d/2d movement tracking system with cameras and mics. It takes the interactive features of the Wii and takes it even further. The demo video looks fantastic and eliminates the chance of you breaking your tv. 🙂 No official name, price, or date have been set, but it has been confirmed to be compatible with all Xbox 360 hardware.

Final Thoughts

Microsoft dropped some big bombs on us this year. The fact that they’ve cracked the Metal Gear exclusivity as well as a new Final Fantasy, Splinter Cell, and Left 4 Dead titles on the horizon signal that Microsoft is in good shape going moving forward. Color me skeptical about the social media features they are sinking time into, but optimistic that they are moving forward with the Xbox 360 as a centerpiece of the living room. In all I think Microsoft made a big splash this year and I can’t wait to see Project Natal materialize into a final product. Stay tuned for our coverage of Nintendo and Sony’s conferences today.

Watch the full press conference here.