There was an air of confidence about Microsoftâ€™s E3 press conference, but that might have been to be expected considering that they were going on stage before both Nintendo and Sony.
Thereâ€™s no Xbox 720 on the horizon just yet, although there is new hardware on the way. Project Natal is a camera that plugs into your 360 and combines â€œan RGB camera, depth sensor, multi-array microphone and custom processor running proprietary software all in one device”. Steven Spielberg, yes the Steven Spielberg, demonstrated it on stage with a 3D Breakout game and another demo called Paint Party. The camera lets you control your avatars limb-by-limb and also supports facial and voice recognition. I think maybe somebody at Microsoft has watched Minority Report recently.
Peter Molyneux has had a development kit for a few weeks and is already working on something starring a virtual child named Milo. I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if Rare are working on something for it too, seeing that no new games from the UK-based developer were shown. Not even the rumoured Perfect Dark for Xbox Live Arcade.
So, the new games. Hideo Kojima appeared on stage to announce Metal Gear Solid: Rising. The only real detail known is that itâ€™ll feature cyborg Raiden and not Solid Snake. Thereâ€™s also confusion as to whether itâ€™s an Xbox 360-exclusive or not – Konami refused to comment. Details of Halo: Reach – which isnâ€™t the new name for Halo: ODST but rather another new Halo – are also slim. The teaser trailer simply shows a planet being blown up by tiny explosions. Halo: ODST has a date though – 22nd September. And if you buy it youâ€™ll get access to the Reach multiplayer beta. The Collectorâ€™s Pack will come with an exclusive wireless controller.
An additional three Xbox 360-only sequels were revealed – Crackdown 2, Forza 3 and Left 4 Dead 2. Click on the links to see the trailers. Splinter Cell: Conviction was re-confirmed as a 360 exclusive too, while some new Xbox Live Arcade games were shown. Epicâ€™s Shadow Complex (screenshot to the right) is a 2D action game based on Orson Scott Card’s novel Empire while racer Joy Ride will be free to download and lets you swap race tracks. Presumably developers Big Park will make their money back through the extra items that you can download to make your tracks better.
Thereâ€™s no Gears of War 3 yet, but there will be something called Gears of War 2: Dark Corners. This downloadable add-on includes seven brand new multiplayer maps and a new campaign chapter. Itâ€™s out sooner than you may think too – 28th July, according to the press release.
Possibly in an attempt to make the 360 appeal to 14 year old girls (joke!) youâ€™ll soon be able to view Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm on your console. Using Facebook Connect screenshots can be sent to your Facebook profile – Tiger Woods PGA Tour will be one of the first games to use it. In August a new games-on-demand service will also launch – full games, like Mass Effect, Colin McRae DiRT, Call of Duty 2 and LEGO Star Wars can be purchased from the dashboard and downloaded straight onto your HDD.
A solid showing then, albeit one with perhaps a few too many shoot’em ups. Something quirky or colourful wouldn’t have gone amiss either, but at least there will be more Gears of War chainsaw fun to be had in just under two months time.