E3 2006 Microsoft Press Briefing

by Tony Ingrassia

So after a long trip to Los Angeles, a few delays with the flight and car rental, I finally made it to the Microsoft Press Briefing. This year the event was held at the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in downtown Hollywood. The event was well organized, as Microsoft was pretty strict on access without invitation and the proper credentials, so we obviously felt very privileged to be in attendance.

The event was hosted by Peter Moore and was started off by giving an overview of the direction MS was going to be headed in the “Near” future. The first item on the agenda was a live in game demonstration of Gears of War. Chris from Epic ran us through one of the levels of the game, I have to admit it was one of the most intense FPS I’ve seen since the original Halo. Your character can utilize duck and cover techniques as well diving and rolling behind walls and other objects. Your also able to cycle through weapons including grenade launchers and a sweet attachment to your basic weapon, a buzz saw of sorts to make the melee action that more interesting. Overall Gears of War is defiantly going to be a very popular game when its released this fall.

Peter did take some time to at least address the shortage of systems and pretty much made no excuses but promised systems are now plentiful and has no doubt the system user base will be 5 Million strong by the end of May. Xbox Live Arcade was the next order of business, and Mr. Moore gave us another staggering figure. Xbox Live would be 6 Million strong by this time next year, and with that went ahead to explain how and why. XBL Arcade has joined forces with some pretty strong “Arcade” powerhouse, such as Namco, Konami, Midway, and Sega to bring games like Ultra Mortal Kombat, Pac-Man, Galaga, Defender, and the original Sonic along with a slew of other games all updated to a HD format just for XBL. The other news for the Arcade was the merger with Independent Developers to showcase a huge variety of games, as Mr. Moore put it, this will do for Independent Developers what the Sundance Film Festival has done for Independent movie makers, again showing MS commitment to looking for new and exciting software from as many game developers as possible. With that came the XBL Arcade “Big Announcement”, Lumines Live with complete XBL integration form leaderbords to downloadable content, which included music video’s by such superstars as Madonna through a few more joint ventures with media giants like Warner Bros. The videos would play in the background of the game screen in place of the abstract images that currently are visible on the game, which by the way was a Sony PSP launch title.


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