updated 01:50 am EDT, Wed July 11, 2007
MS touts games at E3
Announcing that every game it demonstrated would be released this year, Microsoft ushered in an impressive wave of new Xbox 360 and PC titles from third-party developers and previewed new gaming technologies during its E3 press conference in Santa Monica tonight. HIghlights included Halo 3 (which will be accompanied by a new themed console), Grand Theft Audio 4, Call of Duty 4, Assasin's Creed and more. In the bragging rights section of the presentation, Microsoft said it has sold over 5.5 million Xbox 360s to date, a figure that purportedly gives it the widest installed base of any same-generation console.
Consumers have spent nearly $2.5 million on accessories since the launch of Nintendo's Wii and Sony's PlayStation 3, according to Microsoft, and the company boasts that there are 7 million Xbox LIVE users, and nearly 50 million games downloaded through Xbox Live to date. (Earlier in the day, Microsoft announced its Xbox 360 messenger kit for use with Xbox LIVE).
The first title to be demoed was Rock Band, a new game from Harmonix and MTV that was announced in April of this year and will feature NIrvana and The Who among others. Similar in play to Guitar Hero, the game will be controlled by two guitars a drum kit and a microphone. It was demonstrated on stage by Peter moore, head of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business division, which includes the Xbox and Xbox 360 game consoles.
Next up was Mass Effect, which will ship in November. The action role-playing game under development by BioWare will be part of a trilogy that tells the story of Commander Shepherd, who fights an ancient machine race invades the galaxy every 50,000. "With ruthless efficiency, the machines wipe out all advanced organic civilization. They leave behind only the scattered ruins of technology, destroying all evidence of their own existence."
Scene It! is a new game based on the popular board game will be accompanied by a new, proprietary controller. It will also sport video clips that play in high definition.
A new Naruto game, "Rise of a Ninja" will also make its debut this year. The game will borrow many of the television show's aesthetic characteristics, using specialized shading and other visual effects not yet seen in an anime-based game.
Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints took the stage, energizing Microsoft's announcement that new EA sports titles will sport twice the performance of last year's games.
Project Gotham Racing 4 was also demonstrated. The game will feature Ducati motorcycles, among others, and graphically stunning weather effects. Users will have the ability to share photos live.
Assassin's Creed will feature a fully interactive world where every item is touchable and reachable. In fact, bumping into people can cause fights if you're not careful. The title is scheduled to ship in November.
Call of Duty 4, a heavily anticipated title, was demonstrated in full glory. The game features vastly improved graphics over its predecessors, with troops fighting in the Middle East, Russia and elsewhere.
Grand Theft Auto 4 was demonstrated with a live trailer on an Xbox 360 during the briefing, and Microsoft said two exclusive GTA 4 episodes will ship in 2008 for the console.
Resident Evil 5 will be making its debut before the close of 2007, and a trailer of the game will be available to all users through Xbox LIVE at the end of July.
A stunning Halo 3 trailer was shown, and Microsoft took the wraps off a new Halo 3 console. The console will go on sale September 25th, making its debut alongside the game and be accompanied by a series of Halo 3-branded accessories (including a Halo 3 Zune). Before the close, demonstrators showed a second Halo 3 trailer, displaying new enemies and weapons.
With regard to Windows titles, Microsoft demonstrated Gears of War and Viva Pinata, which will sport some significant enhancements on the PC. Gears of War, for instance, will feature a host of new single-player levels, as well as new multiplayer modes.
Touching on its online game and video delivery vehicles, Microsoft said that it would be uploading the original version of Sonic the Hedgehog and Golden Axe to the Xbox LIVE service tonight. The company also announced a deal with Disney that will bring various movies including Hercules, Tarzan, Armageddon, The Queen and others to the Xbox Video Marketplace. Windows Live for PCs will feature new games from Sega and THQ. In addition, the Unreal Engine 3 toolset will soon have Windows Live functionality.
The company also noted that man of the announced titles were Xbox-only exclusives, including Blue Dragon (Aug. 28th), Mass Effect, Naruto: Rise of a Ninja (Oct), Project Gotham Racing 4 (September) and Virtual Fighter 5 Online (online two-player versus mode).