Monday, July 14, 2008

E3 08: Microsoft best foot forward

Today at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Microsoft showed off their blockbusters, family initiative, a 3d avatar with a new user interface, music must haves, arcade exclusives and the closest guarded secret that MS ever held.

Don Mattrick, in the middle of MS E3 conference, boasted, "the 360 will outsell the PS3 this generation." For North America, it will be point less to argue, that the PS3 will one day catch up to the Xbox 360 or even the Wii.

The blockbuster lineup consisted of two multi platform and two exclusive games being released in the fiscal 08 calendar. Resident Evil 5 and Fallout 3 were both demoed with live gameplay, showing off RE5 co-op play over xbox live and F3 showcased a bleak Washington DC. Fallout 3 will have exclusive downloadable content.

The two exclusive xbox 360 titles were Peter Molyneux's and Cliff Blezinski's, Fable 2 and Gears of War 2, respectively. Fable 2 impressed the crowd with an impressive co-op functionality, allowing a player to invite a friend to their world for questing, dungeons, or to hang out in the player created world. Peter claims Fable will innovate co-op play by allowing players to have their own unique world and to be able to invite friends without lobbies to any player at any point of the Fable 2story. Gears of War 2 co-op demo showed the already scene, meat shields, and brumak fight but announced a new five player co-op mode named "Horde." The mode will allow five players to team up against wave after wave of enemies.

The family strategy laid out by MS, included a new partnership with NBC/Universal as well as with MGM and Constantine to bring video content to North American and other regions of the world. Nintendo Mii's brought the family in to creating avatars of family, friends and even neighbors, MS hopes to bring that same mania with Avatars, a 3D model that will be implemented through a new dashboard or user interface this fall. Avatars will be used in family friendly game, Scene It? Box Office Smash and a new MS "Primetime" channel or portal.

The dashboard update will include new "Live Party," a mode currently used in select console titles and available on the PC. The Live Party will be up to 8 players, who can voice chat, launch certain multiplayer titles, basically a shared experience while playing games.

The biggest surprise of the conference, Square Enix announced, that one thought it would happen, Final Fantasy XII went multiplatform via the GDC announced Crystal Tool Software. The change, explained in a later Q&A session, is based on hardware numbers per region. Japan will see a small exclusive window via the PS3, with North America release seeing the Xbox 360 and PS3 launch on the same day and date.

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