The E3 kickoff is now over as the Chuck and I just got back from the Microsoft Press Conference. There's a great deal of coverage out on the Internet as well as G4 presenting the conference live, albeit with a lot of commercial interruptions at veryimpromptu times so I won't go into the whole deal of what was covered. Instead here's a look at what I think are the biggest announcements to come out of the event.
Rock Band was presented with a few of the designers signing and playing the guitar and drums while Peter Moore tried his best on easy level playing the guitar. Of course, he failed a few times and even interrupted the game twice by accidentally pausing the game. Perhaps he was rocking a little too hard. The game looked like a blast to play. The scrolling notes area in Rock Band don't seem as good as Guitar Hero II in terms of design but the gameplay is there and that's what really counts. In all reality the game looks like a blast to play even though the sound coming through the speakers wasn't up to snuff. Seriously, the sound was pretty harsh and I wish they would've softened the voice a little. I have heard the person who demonstrated sing before and she sounded a lot better than what the speaker was producing. I'll be playing Rock Band on Friday and I can't wait for that one.
I am happy to see the Viva Pinata characters in a new game as Viva Pinata Party Animals looks like it's going to try for the Mario Party crowd. There are over 50 mini games and races to experience and I think that Rare's continuation on using the cool Pinata characters is a great decision.
Scene It is a fun party game and it's coming to the Xbox 360. Another game to try to get the casual gamer involved, Scene It will come with a new simpler controller consisting of one big button, four small buttons, and shaped like a remote control. I'm sure there will be cries from Nintendo fans that Microsoft is copying again but there was no mention of motion control. The control does look like one of my 1 year old's toys and I can see Microsoft's decision to make it simple so that anyone can participate in the game. The crux is seeing if there are more games besides Scene It! release in the future that will make use of the new peripheral.
A rash of new Live titles were displayed and the big one that was a surprise in my opinion is Marathon 2: Durandal. In reality it does make sense with Bungie being a Microsoft company now. Marathon 2 was a huge hit on the Apple computer and Windows 95 PC so it's great that a lot more people will now be able to experience what the hoopla was all about. Sure the game probably won't have the impact as it did when it was first released by fans of the old game and those looking to see an early Bungie product will get a kick out of playing this classic. Now all we need is Myth to appear on Xbox Live Arcade as well.
If you're looking for two great classic games to play, Sonic the Hedgehog and Golden Axe were made available today as well. I spent many hours with Sonic on my Sega Genesis and Golden Axe really rocks with three people playing. I'm going to pick up Golden Axe for sure so I can play it with a few others on Xbox Live Arcade.
Gears of War is hitting the PC and while we sort of knew about this a while ago, it's nice to finally get the official word. CliffyB came out to demonstrate one of the five new chapters for the game as he and another person went to fight the monster that chased you at the end of chapter 4. The game looked really well running on a PC and the new content will be a welcomed site. It gives fans like me who went through the game a few times another reason to eliminate the Locusts again. At the end CliffyB mentioned the title is going to be for XP and Vista so it's nice to see this isn't going to be a Vista only title.
Speaking of Gears of War and the Unreal Engine 3, Live integration is built into the engine now so any game that uses the engine will be able to take advantage of Live integration easily. Chuck thinks this is a very big step forward for Microsoft and their quest for Live integration. With many more games upcoming using the Unreal Engine, it'll be interesting to see if this step causes a large increase in Live enabled titles for the PC.
The one game shown that won't be available this year was Resident Evil 5. Microsoft seems to be doing a good job at grabbing franchises for other consoles and having them either become exclusives or just appearing on the Xbox 360. With Resident Evil 5, Microsoft has added another top notch franchise to their already strong lineup. You will be able to download the full trailer on July 26th, or my birthday.
In conjunction with Halo 3, Microsoft will be launching a Halo themed Xbox 360 as well. The console had a military style paint job and will have the same specs as the premium edition.