Microsoft E3 press conference notes

Sorry for the sloppy format, but it’s the best we could do for you. Here are the notes from the conference, in case you missed it.

Don Mattrick
-Biggest sellers touted (Call of Duty 4, Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed, BioShock, etc.)
-New franchises driving market expansion (Rock Band, Scene It, etc)
-Fallout 3, Resident Evil 5, Fable 2, Gears of War 2

Fallout 3

-Retro black and white video intro showing “ad” for Valut-Tec
-Pans out to desolated city, man holding a gun
-Rest of trailer will debut online in hours, will show harshness and humor of Fallout 3
-Live demo of Fallout 3…started by controller issues ;)
-Looks incredibly detailed, smooth
-Post-apocalyptic Washington DC
-Can play in 3rd or 1st person
-Character’s wristwatch shows skills, stats, perks, etc.
-Can play stealthy, combat-driven, or use speech to influence
-Can cue up moves when attacking enemies
-For some reason, Yankee Doodle and other patriotic songs are playing in the background
-Pretty gory…body parts are flying about
-Game has over 100 hours of gameplay, can explore massive areas of Washington DC
-Can be good, bad, or somewhere in between
-Demo ends with character using “The Fatman”, a mini-nuke weapon
-Game will have “substantial” DLC for 360 and PC

Resident Evil 5
-First time RE series on a MS console
-Demo shown, played by RE5 director
-Resident Evil 5 takes place in Kijuju, Africa
-Hero of the game, Chris Redfield investigating bioterrorism incident
-New organization called BSAA sent Chris
-Online co-op mode shown
-Chris’ partner named Sheva Alomar
-Also an agent of BSAA
-Chris tosses Sheva over a gap that neither could cross alone perviously
-As expected, it looks a lot like RE4 done in HD
-Teamwork very important to getting past obstacles and enemies
-I see exploding barrels everywhere
-Chainsaw man variant from RE4 attacks as demo ends
-Out March 13, 2009 in North America

Fable 2

-Fable 2 is already finished
-Trailer shown, apparently a glimpse at the opening of the game
-Setting is in a snowy environment, Albion has a strong European vibe
-Bird poops on a kid’s head…kind of an odd way to introduce your character
-Orbs on the screen represent your friends playing the game, can invite your friends to co-op by heading up to orbs
-Your hero/world will be unique to your experience
-Marriage shown off
-Same goofy communication/interaction system using d-pad
-Game will be out in October, 2008

Gears of War 2

-Huge battle going on, Marcus Phoenix looking on as he’s using a an enemy as a body shield
-Voice has changed for Marcus (seemingly)
-Cliff Blezinsky (sp?) says that response has been very positive
-Co-op play shown with Dom and Marcus
-Buildings are burning, crumbling, story dialog happening as the game is being played
-Scale is much more open than we saw in Gears 1
-Cover system looks smoother
-Using downed enemies as body shields before cracking their neck
-Already new enemies shown, some huge
-Graphics definitely better
-Flamethrower looks nasty and mean
-Escape sequence from a burning building that leads right to a Brumak
-They saddle up a Brumak and prepare to ride it to close the demo
-New mode announced, called Horde. 5 players take on waves of Locusts
-Out November 7, 2008 exclusive to 360

Back to Don Mattrick
-People will spend estimated $48 billion this year in games
-Games leading driver in entertainment spending
-Over 5 million units ahead of PS3
-$2.7 billion in sales (software) last 12 months…leading industry
-Highest revenue of the big 3
-Saying 360 WILL SELL more consoles than PS3 this gen (pretty bold to say at this point)
-12 million Xbox Live members, a new member every 5 seconds
-Xbox Live sales over $1 billion since 360 launch (includes DLC and media)
-Over 10,000 movies and shows on Live larger than any satellite or cable operator
-Movies and shows 1/3 of paid downloads in the US on Live
-NBC and Universal joining TV and movie lineups, USA, Sci Fi channel as well
-Movie clips shown of what’s available
-Audience gives a pity applause (all we care about is the games, MS!)

New 360 interface

-Looks nice, but might slow navigation a bit
-3D avatars (I told you!)
-Avatars are very customizable, will show on Gamercard, ideas proposed by Rare
-Community channel added, integrated with Avatars
-Live Party supports up to 8 people chatting, interacting, or playing games
-Neat photo sharing ability with the party

-Xbox Live Primetime channel coming this fall
-Primetime full of game shows for Live Party players to play along
-Primetime demo shown with game show (1 vs. 100)

-Attempting to open up a new frontier in interactive entertainment
-Dynamic content and scheduled programming coming to Live

-New Games Channel coming
-Uno Rush announced
-Games can be launched for entire Live Party by party leader

Geometry Wars 2 coming to Xbox Live Arcade
-Multiplayer!
-Enemy attacks look more organized
-Seems like a beefed up Geometry Wars: Galaxies

Galaga Legions

-Looks like Galaga with the Pac-Man: CE upgrade
-Available next month, exclusive to Live Arcade

Portal: Still Alive
-GladOS voice fills the arena
-2008 timed exclusive to 360
-New levels, achievements

South Park
-Coming to Xbox Live Arcade
-No real details, just a 5 second teaser

Xbox Live Community Games
-Coming in Fall
-Tons of indie devs putting out content
-Looks like WiiWare

Netflix Partnering with Microsoft
-Only game system allowing to watch streamed videos
-NO ADDITIONAL COST
-Uses an “instant watch queue”
-Can share and watch Netflix videos with Live Party…pretty amazing stuff

Shane Kim on stage

-Mentioning already announced big games (Prince of Persia, Mirror’s Edge, Call of Duty)
-GTA IV DLC exclusive this year on Live
-Showing Rare’s newest efforts

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts

-Trailer is a mix of gameplay and pre-rendered footage
-Banjo is taking supplies and parts into a building/workshop
-Banjo game will be on air, land, and sea
-Vehicles and customizing them are important to game progress
-Available for the holiday season

Viva Pinata: Party Animals
-Trailer looks all real-time
-New regions allow for over 100 different types of pinatas
-Xbox Vision camera allows gamers to scan pinatas in via cards
-Available for the holiday season

Scene It: Box Office Smash
-Very Wii-esque trailer showing different gamer types joining in to play
-Can play with Live Party
-First retail game to use avatars
-New questions via Live Marketplace

You’re In the Movies
-Will ship with Vision camera
-Make, uh, you’re own movies
-Share them and whatnot

Guitar Hero IV
-Metallica’s new album exclusive to GH III/GH IV
-Will be available same time as digital and disc download debut

Lips
-Microsoft’s karaoke game
-Comes with microphone
-You can use your own music
-Blonde girl on stage demos the game…terribly annoying song

Rock Band 2
-Debuts in September exclusively on 360
-Entire soundtrack for the RB2 disc announced…can’t see it because it’s SO FREAKING SMALL
-Noteworthy tracks/artists – Chinese Democracy track (Guns ‘n Roses), Bob Dylan, AC/DC exclusive to RB2, Metallica, Pearl Jam, Motorhead, Devo, Modest Mouse, Beck, Jane’s Addiction
-20 Bonus tracks available in the Fall
-Most tracks ever on one disc
-All DLC forward compatible
-Almost all tracks can be imported from RB1 disc to RB2
-Over 500 songs by end of the year

Yoichi Wada – President of Square-Enix
-The Last Remnant, Infinite Undiscovery, Star Ocean shown to be coming
-Last Remnant trailer shown
-Final Fantasy XIII shown for Xbox 360
-Sony fansboys just crapped themselves out of frustration
-MS fans suddenly will love Final Fantasy
-Honestly, it’s a true megaton score for MS, especially if launches at the same time
-Planned for release in both North America and Europe

End of show.

Great showing by Microsoft, overall. Lots to go over in the next few weeks.

Nintendo adds 1:1 movement to Wii remote with MotionPlus

File this under holy crap, because Nintendo just dropped the first bomb at E3…a whole day ahead of their conference. With Microsoft (most likely) set to show off a motion controller this morning, Nintendo decided to show off a small accessory that will give the Wii Remote a full 1:1 motion performance. Many said that it wouldn’t be possible this gen, given the current tech, to have 1:1 support on the Wii, so this is actually pretty surprising stuff. Here’s hoping that tomorrow’s conference has geeks having it out with simulated lightsaber battles in full 1:1 glory.

MotionPlus

Here’s the official word from Nintendo.com:

Nintendo’s upcoming Wii MotionPlus accessory for the revolutionary Wii Remote controller again redefines game control, by more quickly and accurately reflecting motions in a 3-D space. The Wii MotionPlus accessory attaches to the end of the Wii Remote and, combined with the accelerometer and the sensor bar, allows for more comprehensive tracking of a player’s arm position and orientation, providing players with an unmatched level of precision and immersion. Every slight movement players make with their wrist or arm is rendered identically in real time on the screen, providing a true 1:1 response in their game play. The Wii MotionPlus accessory reconfirms Nintendo’s commitment to making games intuitive and accessible for everyone. Nintendo will reveal more details about the Wii MotionPlus accessory and other topics Tuesday morning at its E3 media briefing.

Sony has come a long way

At E3 2006, Sony had one of the most disastrous and painful E3 press conferences ever. Sure, when Nintendo paraded Pac-Man Vs. on the stage it was bad, but they didn’t outright make idiots of themselves and give the gaming public a good 10-15 memes to use as virtual slings and arrows. Over the past year or so, however, Sony has made some strong strides toward correcting their flawed philosophy in the gaming sector. Good games are being released regularly, PR is more favorable (still a lot to work on here), and developers have (for the most part) quite bellyaching about the difficulty of getting games up and running to their full potential on the PS3 hardware. Below is a video that was compiled by the Wii60 crowd (remember them?) and was a pretty popular video for months leading up to the PS3 release.

Sony has taken its lumps, and hopefully, the days of giant enemy crabs are fully behind us.

E3 reaction and analysis podcasts

Starting Monday night, I’ll be putting out podcasts dedicated to E3 coverage. The press conference start Monday morning, so tune in and check out what I (we, if I can get the others on board) think about the surprises, announcements, and disappointments of the show.

Oh yes, and all hail the return of The Stupid Gamer Podcast!

Pre-E3 predictions, hopes, and expectations: Nintendo

Just days away, boys and girls…E3 is upon us once again. It’s that special time of year when airport food prices expand all across Los Angeles, hotel rates jump 33%, and hot dog carts can be found 2 blocks in each direction around the LA convention center. Yes, even in its terribly scaled back form E3 is stirring up the industry and its supporters. Nintendo has their conference on Tuesday, and as usual, knowing what to expect is like cracking into a fortune cookie. You’re expecting something cute, but there’s always a chance you’ll be highly entertained. Usually, however, you just kind of nod and say, “well, that’s sort of what I was expecting.” Either way, Nintendo is always the company to garner the most pre-show hype. Here is what I’m expecting to see:

Bringing Back the Classics – Nintendo’s greatest strength has always been its franchise characters. Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, and others have been driving Nintendo profits for more than two decades now. Because of this, and because the fans demand it, we’re going to get more classic characters getting new games. We know Mario will be there with a sport game or two, Pokemon will have some sort of presence, but we should also be seeing Kid Icarus’ return, along with a balance board supported version of Punch-Out!!. Animal Crossing is going to be there, and I really hope it’s announced alongside a hard drive solution for the Wii (more on that later). Much like Capcom is doing with Mega Man 9, look for 3rd parties to jump in on the retro love with the Wii in some fashion.

Fixing Things That Need Fixin’ – It’s no secret that the Wii needs a better storage solution than its built-in memory. I’m hoping that along with their Animal Crossing unveiling that Nintendo will also announce that it will come bundled with a hard drive. I’m out of space on my Wii, and I’ve been swapping things on and off my SD card, and it’s a bit obnoxious.  A hard drive would immediately fix these issues. Also, without a hard drive, Nintendo would be severely limited in what they could offer as DLC for Animal Crossing. I also hope that they’d make the hard drive available separately. In addition to the storage issues, Nintendo needs to bring voice chat to the Wii. I’m not real confident in it happening just yet, but there’s always a chance that Nintendo has paid attention to the complaints.

LOOK AT ME!!! – As always, Nintendo will parade around with their chest out and show how completely insane the sales have been for the Wii and DS. They’lll reiterate that they’ve become the media darlings, and continue to showcase products that illustrate just how they’re going to keep soccer moms buzzing about the Wii. Continued support of the balance board can be expected, and there’s an outside chance that some other crazy peripheral will make its debut.

Eye to the Future – Nintendo is hot now, but they have got to realize internally that the DS and Wii are getting old in a technological sense. While high power has never been the focus of either platform, there are cell phones pushing out visuals on par with the Wii (almost) and much better than the DS. I was doubtful a few months back, but now I’m beginning to think that Nintendo may start to hint at the successor for the DS or even another possible redesign (removed GBA slot, slimmer form factor, better battery life, etc.). Without showing too much, Nintendo will definitely attempt to instill faith in their fans that they are actively working on their future beyond the Wii and DS.

Nintendo logo

Nintendo always has 2-3 games that everybody wants to play in each conference, another 3-5 that are interesting on some level, and then a whole bunch of games that just seem to be for “someone else”. With the revival of Punch-Out!! and Kid Icarus, I’m pretty much happy with things already, but I really hope we can see some quality 3rd party efforts beyond Fatal Frame and Mega Man 9. Capcom has done very well on the Wii, so I can really see them tossing some love in the Wii’s direction.

Microsoft: http://stupidgamer.com/2008/07/11/pre-e3-predictions-hopes-and-expectations-microsoft/

Sony: http://stupidgamer.com/2008/07/11/pre-e3-predictions-hopes-and-expectations-sony/

Pre-E3 predictions, hopes, and expectations: Sony

E3 is almost here, and all of us that think we’re in the know are telling all you what to expect. Most of the time we’re about 50/50 on our predictions, so that makes us a bit better than the majority of EPSN’s expert panel and their pro sports picks. Anyway, I’ve already done my Microsoft E3 predictions, so now it’s time for me to do the same for Sony.

There’s No Place Like Home – After all this time and all the demos, I think it’s finally time for Home to get solid release dates, final specifications, and some clear direction. I won’t be surprised if it’s slightly scaled back from what we saw at its original blowout at GDC, but it should still be a might impressive landscape to mess around in. I’m sure Sony will also discuss how 3rd parties and advertisers have shown huge excitement from Home and are actively working with Sony to make it the place to be.

Sequels! – Sony is all about sequels. Well, to be fair, most companies are, but Sony elevates it a higher level. The PS2 saw about 40 Ratchet games, 15 Sly Coopers, and 29 Jak releases. Not to curb a successful formula, Sony will have some sequels we know about (Killzone 2, Resistance 2, Grand Turismo 5, Final Fantasy XIII, etc.) to show more of, but they’ll also have several new ones for us (a new Ratchet & Clank, God of War 3, WipEout, and more). Unlike the film industry, usually game sequels improve upon the previous release, so let’s hope that trend continues, because Sony is going to have a lot of them.

Community – Sony has always been super weak on the community side of things. Microsoft has a great thing going with Live, but Sony is ready to leapfrog them in that regard with Home, Little Big Planet, and a few other tricks they have in the making. Bringing cross-game voice chat to the PS3 down the line will help, as will their recently released in-game XMB features. Sony will try to convince gamers that they can get as much on the PS3 as they can on the 360 when it comes to community and interaction.

Momentum – Sony’s spin will focus on how they’re closing the gap with AAA releases, getting a huge sales boost in Japan with the PSP, and that they have X number of developers actively working on games. Sony is going to try to dispel the notion that they’ve been relegated to 3rd place in this generation and that they’re primed to make a run for market leadership. And hey, with a strong holiday lineup, why shouldn’t they feel confident? Sadly, a price drop will not happen any time soon, it’s just not financially possible for Sony this year to go any lower than what they’re at. Bundles are more likely than price drops, so they may push that in their attempt to paint the PS3 as a good value.

Sony has a chance to really dazzle both fans and naysayers come Tuesday. With huge projects like Home and Little Big Planet on the horizon, Sony has a lot going on. Games like Afika, inFamous, and their whole slew of sequels should have everybody antsy for the holidays. I personally would like to see some committment to improving the dismal state of the PSP’s library, but i’m not holding my breath. This year, however, I think much of Sony’s conference will be impressive, and not just full of gimmicky smoke and mirrors.

Microsoft: http://stupidgamer.com/2008/07/11/pre-e3-predictions-hopes-and-expectations-microsoft/

Nintendo: http://stupidgamer.com/2008/07/11/pre-e3-predictions-hopes-and-expectations-nintendo/

Pre-E3 predictions, hopes, and expectations: Microsoft

So E3 starts up on Monday with EA and Microsoft’s press conferences, and will continue through the next few days. E3 is a time when people work themselves up into a frenzy of anticipation and expectation. This year, like last year, E3 is just a mere shadow of what it once was, but the media conferences should still be tons of fun. Whatever happens, loyal fans, haters, and fanboys will be tossing e-bombs across message boards for the rest of the year based on what we see in the coming days. So, here’s what I predict, hope for, and expect from Microsoft.

Mii Too! – I’m predicting, and some of this is based on swirling rumor, that Microsoft will made a strong attempt to captialize on the growing phenomenon of the market expansion that’s driving the Wii to such insanely high sales. Microsoft will probably roll out their version of what Nintendo has with the Mii avatars and allow users to create their own, download accessories online, and give them a space to interact. I figure it will fall somewhere between what Nintendo offers and what Sony is planning with Home. Oh, and they’ll also have that crazy motion control peripheral to show off.

It’s an FPS extravaganza! – While Gears isn’t exactly an FPS, it’s close enough to fit here. Microsoft has the go-to console for FPS games, and E3 2008 isn’t going to change that. People are saying that Bungie is planning an announcement, and it might not be Halo. If that’s the case, I’d think they might be sticking close to their strengths and possibly announce a new FPS game. Since Sony will be showing Resistance 2 and Killzone 2, you can bet that MS will be ready to counterpunch.

Exclusives on the 360 – This is obvious, but most companies make their biggest impact by showcasing their exclusives. Microsoft will have two huge timed exclusives to show off; being Rock Band 2 and the GTA IV DLC. I think with these coming first to the 360, Microsoft will probably show us what’s up with both. Some exlcusives that I want to see include Mass Effect 2, Dead Rising 2 (pray for it!), Forza 3, Kameo 2, and Killer Instinct 3 (believe).

Spin, Spin, Spin – Microsoft will talk about how they are the “HD console of choice” by consumers and were the first to 10 million sold. They’ll try to pretend that the Wii doesn’t exist, and just ramble on about the success of DLC, 3rd party sales, and 1st party hits in comparison to what the PS3 has done. They’ll talk about affordability, accessability, and momentum. I can’t fault them though, because they’ve earned the right to strut a bit. While Sony is losing money faster than Charles Barkley in Vegas, Microsoft is starting to turn profits.

xbox 360

In the end, I think Microsoft fans will be well-pleased with the showing that’s in store for them, but they’ll probably be divided on whether or not the avatars belong on their console of choice. Some will be excited and ready to give them a go on day one, others will feel like it’s a cheap money grab and a play to make the console more palatable for Japan and the casual American audience. Personally, I hope to see the avatars and I hope they’re well-executed. No matter what happens, the Xbox 360 will most likely still have the best lineup of games coming out of the show.

Sony: http://stupidgamer.com/2008/07/11/pre-e3-predictions-hopes-and-expectations-sony/

Nintendo: http://stupidgamer.com/2008/07/11/pre-e3-predictions-hopes-and-expectations-nintendo/