OK, some technical difficulties prevented us from live-blogging the Microsoft conference, but we all took down some notes about our best, worst, and other notable moments from this morning’s event.
Best Bit: I’m not a big music-rhythm gamer, unless it’s bursting with weird personality (see: Parappa the Rapper, Patapon). But The Beatles: Rock Band stirred up something emotional inside of me. The trailer started with the young Beatles belting out raw tunes inside The Cavern and continued all the way through the band’s trippy, psychedelic years. I never wanted the clutter of Guitar Hero and Rock Band in my home before, but now I can’t wait to sing, strum, and drum with the Fab Four.
And to top off a great video and demo, the real Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr came out on stage to a roaring crowd, to say a few words about their game. I rarely get star struck, but today, a gaming press conference nearly made me cry.
Worst Bit: Joy Ride. Those character models are damn ugly. Oh wait, they’re Xbox 360 Avatars.
Best-Worst Quote: “Some people are not comfortable with their thumbs.” -Xbox Senior VP Don Mattrick on why current controllers are too complicated for the casual audience, justifying codename Project Natal. This 3D camera/full-body motion sensor/voice recognition/user interface/scanning device is ready to bring the year 3000 into our living rooms now. It’ll sign you in to Xbox Live just by looking at you, take voice commands, scan images in 3D space to use as art in games, and let you live Minority Report in the privacy of your home, free from Tom Cruise.
Scariest Bit: Climbing up a sheer ice wall in Modern Combat 2 looked realistic and scary intense. Alan Wake did a good job of giving us the creeps, too.
Biggest Surprise: Halo Reach multiplayer beta invite with Halo 3: ODST.
Best-Looking Bits: Watching CGI-quality cut-scenes transition straight into live scenes in Final Fantasy 13 and Splinter Cell: Conviction.
Best bit: No pie charts, no sales numbers. Just games: Alan Wake, Halo Reach, Forza Motorsport 3, Left 4 Dead 2, Shadow Complex, Metal Gear Solid Rising.
Worst bit: This is tough one; while technically the worst part of the show, it was also the most hilarious — I’m talking about the promo video for Xbox’s new motion-control deal, Project Natal, which was full of families with impossible smiles, looking like they just won the lottery. My favorite part had to be when Dad jumped up from the couch and manned the pneumatic lug nut wrench, excitedly changing the tires during Daughter’s pit stop in The Big Race.
This Game Isn’t Out Yet Award: Tie: Alan Wake and Final Fantasy 13, both slated for Spring 2010. Maybe?
Best Quote: Paul McCartney on Beatles: Rock Band: “Can’t play it…who ever thought we’d end up as androids?”
Second Best Quote: “It is my honor to present the creator of Metal Gill Solid, Hideo Kojima.” Don Mattrick, Xbox Senior VP
Best bit: Shadow Complex: Epic’s Cliff Bleszinski presented this XBLA game (developed by Chair) that utilizes that “Metroidvania” exploration and action mix that so many hardcore gamers are hot for. And it looks great: 3D world but 2D movement (as well as some into-the-background shooting), with lots of the bang-bang. The best-looking item was the foam gun, which you can use to shoot out a stream of foam that can be used as an instant makeshift ramp or just blown up. Things like a hookshot and the ability to shoot down wires to electricute enemies — as well as a 10-hour playtime — has me stoked for this one.
Worst bit: This one’s a toss-up. First we have Joy Ride, an avatar-using kart-racing XBLA game that stresses grabbing big air. It might be fun, but its simple graphical style and (as far as I could tell) power-up-free action kept my excitement down. Points for being free, though!
And then we have Metal Gear Solid Rising. This is huge news that I find pretty exciting; no doubt it’s a great get by Microsoft (and hey, whiney-boy Raiden is back!). It’s just the tagline: Seriously, what the hell does “lightning bolt action” mean? Sounds like it’ll have all the excitement of a weather.com Flash game.
Best Tease (tie): Crackdown 2 and Halo Reach. I’m superpsyched about both games on principle, but neither teaser trailer showed any juicy info (yeah, I know, but still…). The best nugget I could discern was that in Crackdown 2, it looks like you’ll finally be taking on superpowered enemies. Can’t have a Superman without his Zod.
Best Display of Athleticism: Microsoft demo lady Abby, who stretched, kicked, and punched virtual balls in the motion-sensing Richochet game, which looks simple but will undoubtly be fun in that Wii Sports way. She made those guys demoing with controllers and thumbs look archaic in comparison.
Best “Huh?” Moment: In describing Tony Hawk Ride, the Bird Man said something about “social-physical gaming”… Wha-?
Best Bit: Left 4 Dead 2 trailer keeps my love for the undead alive. All this game needs to be the best zombie game ever? Plants.
Worst Bit: Project Natal negates Tony Hawk Ride. After pro skater Tony Hawk pimps his new skateboarding doohickey, Microsoft one-ups the Bird Man with its own skateboarding game that uses an even better controller: you…pretending to skate on your carpet.
Shut your Windows: Facebook? Twitter? Last.fm? Guess I don’t have to use my computer anymore — anyone need a new Macbook?
Pedophilic Boy of the Show: Milo. The digital lad created by Fable developers Lionhead Studios allows everyone to converse with underage children without having to hear the infamous, “Why don’t you take a sear over there?”
The Most Definitive Quote of This Generation: “Forza Motorsport 3 is the most definitive racer of this generation.” In case we weren’t aware from the graphics, choice of cars, or cool community features, the Forza Motorsport 3 definitively let us know via repetition just how good his game is…compared to other racers this generation, that is.
For more discussion on these and plenty more E3 topics, check out our Mobcasts this week.