Man, I feel like I’m really late for the party but I didn’t actually have the time today to watch it until just awhile ago. Like every press conference, it was full of self-congratulatory rhetoric, but it’s a necessary evil to get to the real meat – the shocking or kickass game announcments. So, how did Microsoft handle being first up at bat? Did they hit a homerun, or did they strike out? Sink the three or threw up a brick? In other words, did they do well enough to make me stop using horrendous sports metaphors?
Well, yes, I guess. Let’s break it down further.
- No Stats! I really appreciated the fact that they didn’t dwell (or even bring up) any of the masturbatory sell through numbers that these conferences usually start with. They finally realized the gaming press and everyday gamers don’t give two shits about how many units are sold. Hopefully Nintendo and Sony paid attention and scrapped their marketing pie charts.
- Splinter Cell Conviction: Looks surprisingly cool, with the flashbacks handled as sort of projections against walls and mission goals plastered Fringe style across the landscape. It looks brutal, and extremely M-rated. It really is a completely different game than what we’ve seen before, though the “who killed my daughter” yell was a little cringe inducing. But hey, it’s Sam Fisher by way of Jack Bauer, so what’s not to love?
- FFXIII: Hey, I’m a raging fanboy, so any footage of FFXIII get’s me hot and bothered. And look, the 360 version looks exactly like the PS3 version! Just like everyone save the most ardent of Sony fanboys expected. Goods news is it comes out next Spring, but I’ll believe it when I see it (though I’m moving to Japan so I’ll have it early, suckers!). I still have a bias against so many fucking belts on costumes, though. Do you really need that much support? Stop it Nomura, your influence already ruined the Big Sister in Bioshock 2. What other havoc will such frivolous design choices wrought?
- Left 4 Dead 2: Oh hey, New Orleans zombies! Kind of disappointing that the old cast of characters is gone, but it’s nice seeing that it’s not just a retail priced map pack. Hopefully actual gameplay is made available, seeing that the game ships in November.
- Modern Warfare 2: It’s Modern fucking Warfare. It’s 2. It’s awesome. The snow level is impressive, and I expect similar greatness in the multiplayer. Fingers crossed I can get a good connection in Japan, because I suspect I’ll be taking some sick days when this comes out. Does Japan have sick days?
- Halo 3 ODST and Halo Reach: I’m a complete Halo geek (I’ve read all the novels, too. I know I’m a loser, you don’t have to say it), so obviously these two things get a big thumbs up. ODST looks like more Halo single player goodness and I’m interested in Reach because it could be the first Halo game to include the other Spartans. Hopefully Reach get’s a new graphics engine, because after GOW 2 and Killzone 2, the Halo 3 engine really does feel a bit antiquated. And yes, I’m a graphics whore.
- Facebook and Twitter: This is a pretty cool feature. Now everyone on my Facebook will know what game I’m playing, because they obviously care so much. I’m probably selling the feature a bit short, though. If nothing else, it’ll get Microsoft some buzz.
- Beatles Rock Band: It’s Rock Band and it’s Beatles.
- Snazzy Stage: I have to admit, it was a mighty pretty looking stage though I’m still of the opinion that puke green was a terrible corporate colour to adopt. Why not sly blue, or fiery pink? But vomit?
- Alan Wake: I’ve waited over a year for new footage…for this? An average looking third person shooter? Here I thought the guys at Remedy could grow the fuck up and give a more mature, Heavy Rain-like experience. But no, we have Alone in the Dark cum Max Payne. Can’t developers realize that the worse parts of survival horror games is the shooting?
- Metal Gear Solid: Rising: All of the anticipation for Kojima to finally hop onto the 360 bandwagon and all we get is a stupid 10 second teaser that had a still image of Raiden? I’m not doubting the game will be good, but this “reveal” was weak sauce, if you pardon my hot spittin’.
- Crackdown 2: Similar to my complaint with Rising – where’s the damned gameplay? Pre-rendered videos are nice and all, but I want to see some fucking roof hopping by an actual person. I want to see footage of the improved cityscape, of the bigger explosions, whatever the hell that monster was.
- Forza Motorsport: Aside from not being a fan of racers, the demo they showed didn’t exactly look like the “best graphics in this generation of racers.” Gran Turismo still looks better. Cockpit view is pretty cool, but I never play in that view. I always find it awkward. The demo footage wasabout 20 seconds long and then the dude talked about how awesome it was. How awesome is your game dude from Forza development team? Thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis awesome, apparently.
- Last FM: I’ve never heard of this company or network, so chances are it won’t be available in Canada. Therefore I don’t give a flying rainbow coloured fuck.
- People Playing Beatles Rock Band: Shouldn’t the companies have learned from Nintendo’s little fiasco last year with showcasing music games? It’s just not fun or entertaining to watch other people play plastic instruments while notes scroll down a giant screen. Extremely fun to do yourself, sure, but not so much to watch.
- Stupid Casual Videos: I hate those video interludes with “average” people enjoying video games together. They’re cheesy, too long and usually cringe inducing. Why bother having these videos at all when the majority of the press that’s at the show knows that’s not how people game? Watching the intro video to Project Natal was like getting a root canal through my eyes. I don’t know how that’d work, but I assume it’d be painful.
- Joy Ride: This game looks stupid and the fact that it took up one of Microsoft’s mega exclusive title slots is whack.
- The mic cutting off during the showing Shadow Complex. It was extremely awkward, especially when the presenter continued on despite knowing nobody could hear a word he’s saying. Not sure if that equates professionalism or stupidity. C’mon Cliff, you and your newly buffed out arms should have jumped in and stopped the guy from making a fool of himself. Your mic was still working, after all.
- Don Mattrick: The man’s just a bad presenter. He isn’t particularly commanding of the language, he stammers, he messes up words and he looked wholy uncomfortable on stage, clapping embarassingly into the void to force others to clap too. It’s a tad pathetic. Plus, he messed up when introducing Hideo Kojima! What the hell?
- Project Natal: I really don’t know what to make of the new motion controller where you are the…fuck it. It seems incredibly accurate, so that’s nice, but I’m just wondering if there will be enough smart support to make the venture worthwhile. The ball game and the painting were neat, but weren’t super compelling. It was Peter-never-lives-up-to-promises Molyneux’s Milo tech demo that was by far the most impressive. I thought for sure it was faked, but apparently it’s up and running and it’ll be demoed to a select few. I wonder who the lucky bastards are and whether they’ll write an unbiased report on if it’s actually that awesome. Until the reports come out I’ll continue to be cautiously optimistic.