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X06 – Microsoft Conference Details

September 27, 2006

I’ve just sat through around an hour and 15 minutes of conference using some pap live video feed from X06, pfft, who says technology isn’t advancing? ;o) The feed…now working…can be watched online from Xbox.com.

I’ve missed some of the start since I was hunting for a working live feed *gives Xbox.com a dirty look*. Doom will be on the marketplace!!! Peter Moore talks about Bungie still hard at work on Halo 3 and that we should “expect to hear more by the end of the year,” a release date maybe?

A trailer for Project Gotham Racing 4 was shown, nothing special just some 599 GTB looking Ferrari driving through some non-descript rendering of fog and stormy type thing. No further info on that.

Peter Moore talked about Grand Theft Auto 4, going on worldwide release within two days. October 16th 2007 in North America and Europe the following day, October 17th. Moore re-iterated that extra content that will be available exclusively to the Xbox 360 over Xbox Live and this will NOT be “a car or a character” but a few hours of additional storyline. Moore mentioned that he asked Rockstar for a bone to be thrown his way with regards to what he could tell us about the content. I think he will elaborate more on the bones in the coming months.

Now the next item impressed me, even on this crap 20 x 15 pixel feed..Assassin’s Creed. I hadn’t even looked at any videos or trailers of this. Jade Raymond, producer at Ubisoft came on to demonstrate the game and pointed out that it is still quite buggy but it looked good from where I was sitting, at my desk. She controlled a character, an assassin, and got on a horse and rode through some ravaged landscape with busted catapults and wooden frames all over the place in a medieval setting. The assassin and horse arrived at a castle/walled town which looked amazing, there was alot of detail..remember I was watching this on some poop feed though, it might be better to watch a high def trailer from somewhere. Once within the town walls and on foot, Jade demonstrated how the non-player-characters (NPCs) react to the assassin as he walks through amongst the town folk. Jade pointed out that you can interact with the crowd but you might not want to do so when you are near your targets. The assassin pushed a pedestrian and the other people in the crowd looked around to see what the commotion was all about, excellent stuff..simple but excellent. Jade then banged on about freedom in-game. They wanted to allow players to go wherever they wanted and made a comparison to parkour (is that the spelling?) and then showed our friendly neighbourhood assassin climbing up some ledge on the side of a building eventually making his way up to the roof. From the roof, we were shown the ‘Intuition’ feature where everything seems to turn greyscale in colour and allows us to see our target. Targets show up in this view with a glow emanating from them. Jade took the character back down to street level and said that she can blend in and walk amongst some monks in white, they had no problem with this and surround the assassin, apparently as he did a mission to help them earlier in the game. Once near the target, the assassin broke off from the monks and killed the target. Commotion ensues with the assassin being chased around the town. Jade showed us the combat and when moves are carried out there is a smooth flow of animation between them, making it seem I was watching some pre-rendered footage or a movie. It all looked very good, unfortunately Jade got the assassin killed a few seconds later. ūüė¶ I’ve got to add this to my “to buy” list.

Bioshock looked good, I don’t know if it was in-game or pre-rendered footage. Either way it looked good and was from a first person perspective as the viewer got a beating from something I couldn’t make out, after pulling a small girl from a hole…wtf?

Peter Moore announced that Lost Odyssey will be coming to Europe next year sometime. There was lots of sword fighting between some medieval knights-in-armour type characters. The in-game video switched seamlessly to player control. This is a turn based game so there were movie style clips interspersed with the character move selection screen. These games look true next-gen as there is an amazing amount of detail compared to what we have seen so far on the Xbox 360.

Next we moved-on to a trailer for Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent with some never before seen footage apparently. I couldn’t make out much of this either, it was just a trailer with Sam Fisher doing some random stuff like zooming down a zipline or hanging onto a ledge on the side of a ship?? Moore said that Sam Fisher is exclusive to the Xbox 360 and Windows.

Forza Motorsport 2 will be shipping next year, no more specific than that. Moore rattled off a list: absolute physics, graphics at 60fps over 300 cars on disc, unlimited ways to customise your car. At this point someone shouted something or heckled, again couldn’t make out what but Peter responded with a “thank you”.

Next up was the highly anticipated HD-DVD segment! Alot of speculation has been going down with prices of the HD-DVD drive add-on to be priced anywhere from ¬£89 to ¬£199 in Europe. Moore said this will be “the most affordable HD-DVD player” for the Xbox 360 in November 2006. It will be released in the UK, Germany, France and North America. Prices are set at $199, 199 Euros and ¬£129.99!!! The drive will come with a full Media Remote and for a limited time a HD-DVD of King King! Of course this will be displayed in NATIVE 1080p..if your display supports it…no need for a HDMI cable.

Moving from the Xbox, Moore told us about the Games for Windows initiative and gaming on Vista. Conan, Lego Star Wars 2, Crysis, Lord of the Rings Online and Microsoft Flight Simulator X are just some of the games to be branded as ‘Games for Windows’. This aims to bring PC games to the forefront, in-line with console games by changing the way stores display the games. No longer will they be hidden at the back of stores amongst the crap 2 quid CDs with clip art and Tetris clones but up front in a Games for Windows display. The initiative already introduced in the US will be coming to Europe next year.

Following on from E3 and the Live Anywhere vision, Moore confirmed again that Shadowrun will be the first title to allow PC gamers and Xbox Live gamers to compete across platforms. There was also a trailer for Marvel Universe Online…is this why Marvel had beef with City of Heroes?

Coming to the end, Peter Jackson came onto the stage with some announcement that “interactive entertainment experience” will be created. Peter Jackson told us the theory, it won’t be a game or a film…wtf? The text on screen said there will be a Halo based series and an original series from Peter Jackson. Jackson wants to combine story telling and games and feels that the technological advances will allow that.

In closing, a trailer was shown which looked like some sort of halo game render. Some dudes armoured up in Halo style gear, in a Halo style buggies were cruising across some icy plane, it was dark, probably around 8pm on a winters evening. Something happened and then there was some shooting between the Halo type people and something else..robots? The trailer ended with the title Halo Wars on-screen in the trademark Halo font.

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