Microsoft Conference – E3 2009 Live Blog

It’s that time again, and I’ll be blogging like crazy to keep you up to date on the latest happenings in the Microsoft 2009 press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in LA. There have been many predictions, but only time will tell.

Note: The live blog is now not so live, as the conference has finished. However, it’s now fully formatted and subject to your viewing pleasure. Enjoy the blog.

If you’re not into reading a wall of text, the "quick" recap is here. We saw Halo: ODST, FORZA Motorsport 2, COD4: MW2, Alan Wake, Left4Dead 2, The Natal motion control system, Rock Band: Beatles, Metal Gear Solid: Rising, Halo: Reach, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Crackdown 2, Joy Ride, FaceBook and Twitter apps, Tony Hawk, Ricochet, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Shadow Complex, Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Olivia Harrison, Steven Speilberg, Peter Molyneux… You get the idea. It was packed with new games, NXE features, and celebrities. Sony and Nintendo have a tough act to follow.

12:18 PM:

Sounds like Don’s rounding up to the end of the conference. I don’t think anyone saw Natal coming. Not to that impressive degree.
Thank you, Don, Microsoft, for making me feel dizzy with excitement.
And it’s over. Thanks for reading, I’ll be cleaning it up a little now.

12:11 PM:

On comes Peter "it’s coming, I swear" Molyneux to talk more about Natal.
Controllers are inhibiting true control in games. True, Pete, true.
Claire, our demo participant is talking to a little boy on screen. She’s talking to him about E3, and he’s responding. She’s now telling him off for not doing his work, and he now looks guilty, and he’s apologising. I think my head’s going to explode.
May I just mention the graphics?! Wow.
He’s giving her some goggles, through the screen. I won’t lie, I half-expected them to catch goggles coming out of the screen. She does "catch" them, though.
Some really impressive water effects, and with her goggles (shown on her now), she’s swishing the water around and grabbing fish. Eat your heart out, Unreal Engine 3.
Peter’s pretty chuffed. I bloody would be.
She drew something for him, and the camera scanned the paper, the boy now knowing what she drew from shape recognitive abilities. I want them to re-do the Minority Report title.
They’re showing this to E3 attendees, though, only to a select few. I wish I was one. That said, it’s sunny here in London and cloudy in LA, so I guess I kind of win.

11: 50 AM:

Don Matrick, senior VP of Microsoft is now on stage with Hideo Kojima.
MGS franchise is coming to the Xbox 360, and apparently the next title is coming right to the console.
Hideo: "but I didn’t say anything about Solid Snake," grins Kojima. You cheeky fellow.
MGS: Rising, it seems, and it’s focusing on Raiden.
Don Matrick looks like he wants to hug Kojima. Off goes everyone bar Don.
Don’s talking about the Xbox franchise. Let’s see what happens.
Motion control? "Of course we can," says Don. Here it comes, guys.
Sounds like he’s advertising the Wii, to be honest.
The trailer is rolling, and we’re told we don’t need a controller. EyeToy, then?
A mic and a camera, seemingly, as he just challenged the bloke on screen to a fight, kicked him in the face and uppercutted, both on screen and in real life.
Driving games as well, and Dad gets up to fix the wheel as a pitman. Impressive.
A little fella’s being a huge monster, smashing up a city, and it seems he’s making the monster walk by stomping his feet. He opened his mouth, and the monster spat laz0rz.Wow.
Someone just scanned a skateboard, and put it in Skate. If that actually works, Microsoft just made the Wii look amateur.
Facial recognition?! What is this, the Xbox CIA?
Some girl just put a dress on herself, in real time, and saw what it looked like. Erm, this can’t be real, not all of it. That’s insane.
Voice recognition, makes for far easier gameshow titles.
Wife and hubby using their hands to select a film, Minorty Report style, says the girlfriend. Much chuckling ensues here.
Don’s talking about something called "Natal," apparently the name of the hardware with which we’ll achieve this mental amount of stuff. Compatible with every 360, old or new. This is impressive. Nintendo’s Motion Plus! is beginning to look a little boring.
On comes Steven Speilberg. Wow. They really pulled out all the stops today.
Speilberg’s talking about interactive entertainment and its accessibility.
"60 percent of households do not own a videogame console," says Steve, though he says consal, which may be some crazy old-man modded hardware. Who knows, with that salary. He could secretly own Nintendo for all we’re aware.
He’s discussing the idea of cinemascope and widescreen. "It’s not about reinventing the wheel: it’s about no wheel at all." Nice quote, Stevey. Off he goes.
On comes Kudo Tsunoda, the creator of Natal, and seemingly an Ali G impersonator by appearance.
His avatar is mimicing his movements. "Ever wonder what the bottom of an Avatar’s shoe looked like? WHABAM! There it is!" See? Ali G.
He’s browsing through the dashboard, and now a woman is demonstrating a game called Ricochet, essentially Breakout in real time. It’s impressive, like dodgeball meets Breakout.
Good job, Abby, says Kudo. Good job, claps the crowd.
We’re now looking at a painting title, and the demo allows you to literally throw paint at the screen. Well, not so much literally. That would be stupid.
Tons of painting and using voice recognition to choose colours.
He’s making a stencil with a silhouette. Incoming! Bunny ears by the million!
This is odd. They’re making an elephant, by bending over eachother. I hope Abby’s recieving free therapy, that’s a game developer’s bum.
The silhouette really does look like an elephant, it’s impressive, and now he’s painting it.

11:41 AM:, Netflix and various other media tidbits that the crowd seem very happy about. The TV selection looks pretty good, and it’s "cool stuff", so I can’t deny its appeal, it seems.
More avatar-based movie experiences.
Sky coming to Xbox Live. We know this already, but it’s still a great thing to happen.
For all you social nuts, FaceBook, too.
Felica Day, star of famous web-cartoon The Guild is now on stage. She’s talking about season three, and the fact she’s a gamer. Really?
She’s showing us the FaceBook app for the Xbox. It seems to be synced with Xbox to the point where we’re seeing dual FaceBook and Xbox friends lists, with their FB profile below their gamertag. Swish.
Photos are all available, though tags might be interesting, not shown though.
Status updates are also on the software, not to mention adding comments based on their current status.
She’s now talking about posting screenshots from Xbox titles straight to FaceBook, starting with Tiger Woods PGA Tour, conveniently coming soon.
Twitter is also coming to Xbox Live, which makes sense as it seems to be trumping the social network crowd’s rival popularities at the moment.
She’s showing us how to share what we’re playing or watching on our Xbox, and that’s about it from her, it seems. Oh, and it’s coming this Fall. Bye, lady.

11:33 AM:

Sam Lay on stage, introducing another game, oddly enough.
Alan Wake. Hah, I knew this was coming, and no one believed me. Though, I’m not surprised.
The trailer pans across some impressive countryside, and Alan tells us the story of searching for his wife.
A flashback sequence done in a TV-esque "previously on Alan Wake" style tells us when she went missing. I’m assuming how is the object of the protagonist.
Gameplay demo, and Alan’s walking towards a building, and now running as "Rusty," presumably his friend, is screaming, and there’s a lot of shooting. Apparently, he’s got some of Alan’s pages, so we need to go find him.
Telekenisis seems to now be the order of the day, and Alan starts ducking and dodging flying kitchen appliances.
He makes it past the angry dishwasher, and heads down some wooden stairs. Lag, lag lag, lag lag lag. G4, you’re crap.
An enemy, and seemingly Alan’s torch is doing a ton of damage to it. He shoots, and the evildoer bursts into flames, a la Alone in the Dark 5
Alan’s being attacked while on a platform skidding down a wire. A red flare throws up some atmospheric lighting, and in goes Alan to fight some more enemies. This seems a lot more action-oriented than all the previous press on the game led everyone to believe.
More lag. It’s a beautiful thing, really, but the gameplay demo has finished. I’ll edit in a release date if there was one.

11: 25 AM:

It’s HALO ODST time! With Joe Staten of Bungie! Yay! The opening cutscene of the demo is impressive.
We’re heading towards what looks like a colossal Covenant ship warping, and as a result our drop pod is going a little off course.
"The Rookie," states the video, I’m assuming this is a chapter title.
Camera man finally shows us the video. "The Rookie", apparently, is indeed you, and you’ve been separated from your team.
The graphics are similar to that of Halo 3, but the lighting a lot more atmospheric.
Two new silenced weapons, and a low-light visor make for some stealthy kills, and it’s nice to see a Brute take on an actual human and lose.
The Halo 1 pistol fans cheer, as the ODST pistol seems to be just as powerful.
Low light visor is now on, illuminating our way to a very big hole, and a cutscene. Our steely protagonist picks up some armour, and looks at a huge burning object in the distance.
"Great stories are told in original ways," says Joe. Too true. Flashbacks are a big part of the campaign, apparently, which suggests you won’t just be playing one person, a la Halo 2.
Another cutscene. Many ODST troopers in one place this time, one of them with a Spartan laser, which turns out to be you.
We’re arming some charges and pegging it across a bridge. We make it, and we’re now climbing up to a watch tower. The UI, by the way, is yellow. A nice change from the blues and purple of Master Chief and the Arbiter.
ODST’s "firefight" co-op mode will be on the show floor.
Sept 22nd release date.
Top secret project just announced. Halo: Reach, maybe?
The trailer shows us high in orbit, watching nukes detonate across what looks like a H-congruous world.
Yup, it’s Halo: Reach. And it’s out in Fall 2010.
Apparently, the beta for Reach’s multiplayer comes with ODST. Sounds good. Bye Joe!
11:18 AM:

Racing games now, it seems. In October, we’re getting FORZA Motorsport 3, he tells us, and cue trailer.
IT looks swish and very Hollywood, lots of primary colours and shining bonnets.
Dan Greenwalt is now on stage, representing TurnTen. "We love cars," he says. "I know, you arse," says I.
A very pretty car on stage, and he keeps pointing at it. It’s a car.
Demo time though, and we pull away in the red shiny Audi that was sitting behind him on stage. An in-cockpit view is displayed, very similar to that of the upcoming Need for Speed: Shift.
He continues after the demo. The game "delivers the thrills [their] competition can’t", states Dan. He’s cocky, and it seems that FORZA have also got the "racing line" UI overlay on the track, which makes me wonder who’s ripping off who – Slightly Mad Studios or TurnTen.
The creative team behind the game are now speaking in a video interview. Various people who like painting cars, and even Bucky Lasek the pro skater has turned up in the video to state his love for the title.
Video’s over, but Dan isn’t. He’s talking about the community, and the ability to upload hi-def video, and the fact that those designers are going to be contributing.
We’re now looking at the video editor that the average gamer can use, albeit used by someone on the development team.
Some very impressive tricks going on here, reminiscent of The Italian Job
The editor seems to be able to put together a very slick experience, and it’ll be interesting to see what people come up with.
Slo-mo crash shot, and I’m surprised to see a modern car game that smashes the cars up to that degree, most racers don’t. Impressive.
11:11 AM:

Sam Fisher looks very angry in this new Splinter Cell: Conviction. trailer. Seems he’s rebelling against the system here, and looks very impressive while doing so, though this is all pre-rendered, which is a point of much moaning for the press, I’d like to think.
We’re now being taken through the E3 demo of the game. The graphics are incredible, and the game’s swinging third-person camera stays with the style of the genre, and flashbacks are appealing on the walls. It’s all very violent and trippy.
Disembodied camera swings through the city, and up behind Sam as we begin the level. "Infiltrate the mansion" appears on the wall in the distance, rather impressively, an odd way of showing you your objective.
"Mark and execute" is the new move being shown now, allowing you to focus on someone in the next room, burst in, and kill them instantly and seemingly without fail. Icons above people’s heads definitely seems to help with the aiming.
Up the pipe he does, and into the darkness, Sam-style. He’s shooting out lights now, and you can see the AI of the antagonists at work: it’s pretty damn impressive.
After taking out a room full of thugs, "Get Sarah’s Killer" appears on the wall as you run past, updating the objective once again whilst furthering the narrative. More flashbacks on walls, very chilling.
Rage mode time. He’s using a piece of broken glass to see around a doorway. It’s impressive, and as he goes in and kills everyone in there the screen is saturated with a blood-red hue. He jumps out a window, slides around the side of the mansion, and jumps back in another one to find his target. Sadly, an explosion stops him executing his target, but he gets a tip, allowing himself to be arrested.
Fall ’09 release date. And they’re off.
11: 08 AM:

New trailer. Lots of gunplay, and Crackdown-style bounding around the city. Why? It’s Crackdown 2.
Holy shit! Left4Dead 2 is coming November 17th this year! Trailer looked amazing, lots of melee and improv weapons.
11:06 AM:

An avatar racing game! Joy Ride is the title, ad it looks very slick and cartoony, including a lot of cars.
Free download, which is pretty impressive, but with purchasable content that can be shared with friends without them needing the content. Taking cues from Mario Kart methinks.

11:02 AM:

Now it’s all the exclusive titles, the cocky bugger. Donald Mustard and Cliffy B have taken the stage to much heavy metal music for Epic.
It’s an XBLA title from Chair Entertainment: Shadow Complex. Donald’s mic is a little broken. Sucks.
Unreal Engine 3 is powering the XBLA titled, and I think he’s noticed the problem.
Sidescrolling, and has elements of both stealth and using the environment to kill enemies.
A foam gun – something that can be used to make a staircase – is announced, and looks very fun to use.
Over 120 items to be found and a ten hour campaign, not to mention a huge Ghost in the Shell-esque robot boss at the end.
The boss glitched out, which was painful. Seems they’re glitching out of the stage as well, but have announced some new GoWII DLC.

10:57 AM:

Toriyama and co. are onstage representing Square Enix. Here comes the FFXIII announcement. They’re giving us a brief history lesson. Like all us fanboys don’t know already.
The translator’s pretty on the ball, which is something we can be thankful for.
They’re now talking directly about the latest FF instalment. They’re premiering a first look now.
Some lady and her afro-equipped male friend legging it down the side of a huge robot, weilding classic FF huge weaponry.
Battle time! He’s explaining how everything works. He describes the characters as Lightning and Suds, and he’s talking about the differences in the battle system from the more recent titles (XII especially).
More time gauges this time, thankfully, allowing for more complex tactics on the battlefield.
Special attack time! ODIN! He’s a big mother. The graphics are amazing, and Odin’s actually standing with your characters, as opposed to everyone disappearing.
Releasing in Spring 2010, they say, and they’re off.

10:48 AM:

New trailer on screen. Heavy amounts of terrorism and lots of gunplay, and very impressive graphics. And it is: COD4: Modern Warfare 2.
Jason West and a fellow who’s name we missed on stage to talk about the game. They’re now going to demo it for us. Lovely people.
Snow level, very impressive graphics, seems we’re scaling a mountain in the first person, which is surreal, if a little Mirror’s Edge-esque.
Top of the climb, and holy crap, your team mate just jumped a crevasse, which you, predictably, didn’t manage, and are now hanging off the ledge.
Lot of very impressive weather effects, really adds to the atmosphere. Come to think of it, I recognise the voice directing you around… I won’t spoil it. Auspex scanner on the side of your gun, very James Bond/Alien.
Enemies incoming, apparently. We’re moving towards what looks like a gate. "BOOM," says the gate, and in we go. The combat is a lot smoother, and the sprint function is, thankfully, still in game, though also a lot smoother.
And we’re on the run again, sliding down a hill. The graphical improvements are unbelievable.
A snowmobile driving section is our next task, and my god, this looks like tons of fun.
And it’s done. Sweet.

10:44 AM:

Tony Hawk now on stage, talking about the new skateboard controller. Accelerometers and weight sensors, not to mention the ability to "push off". Sounds pretty impressive.
The world-exclusive trailer is now showing. Lots of pro skaters talking about why they skate. I’d say "money", but they give far more artistic answers. And conviently G4 decides to cut out right there and then. Technology has really advanced…
Tony Hawk finishing off the presentation, and heads off stage.

10: 41: AM:

Next person on-stage, intro speech. Talking about the NXE, though he probably won’t mention the lag. "It’s all about showing, and not telling", he says. Sounds like a presentation full of videos, and "ten" new IPs, he says.

10:40 AM:

Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney now on stage. This is impressive. "The game is good, the graphics are very good…" Ringo sounds a little woozy. "Who ever thought we’d end up as androids" says Paul. What the feck? Off they go.

10:38 AM:

Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrisson on stage to promote the game. Dear god, why didn’t she die instead of John? Terrible marksmanship.

10: 34 AM:

It’s starting properly. Announcer’s taking about the game, Abbey Road is going up in full. Charity donations too. Swish.
10:31 AM:

Beatles Rock Band at the moment. Nothing too interesting, but cool instruments.
10:25 AM:

Here we go!
2:52 AM:

Seven and a half hours to go. Thank the stars I’m British. Live blog is a go-go, and I’m preparing to write more news than I’ve ever done in my life, this week.


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Author: Christos Reid View all posts by

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