On May 12th, Microsoft held their E3 2003 Press Conference at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles, CA. The hour-long event showed MS's plans to contribute to the gaming community in the months and years to come. Free food in the form of hot dogs, sushi, sandwiches, and pretzels were readily available for any hungry journalists (such as ourselves) and yes, the requisite MS hotties were all present and accounted for. Once we had had our fill of the free food, we were ready to see just what Microsoft has in store for us (and you).
The event kicked off as J. Allard, Robbie Bach, and Ed Fries came out on stage and began talking about how far the Xbox project has come, and how far they intend to take it in the future. We're delighted to announce that Microsoft has been working diligently to ensure its success in the gaming industry. To begin with, we were shown a slew of upcoming titles; including the impressive Doom III which featured the token jaw-dropping graphics we were expecting and also a wide variety of terrifying foes, some of which crawled on ceilings and others that had to break down walls to get through doorways.
Also on display was the upcoming sequel to the top-selling racer Project Gotham Racing. PGR 2 features more tracks, more cars, and oh yes, Xbox Live capabilities. The game retains the kudos point system and is currently slated to hit retail shelves in the fall of 2003. LucasArts unveiled a brand spankin' new Star Wars title entitled Star Wars: Republic Commando. Not much was shown on the game, but what was there did look promising. The brief video showed a unit of Storm Troopers following some insect-like creature. The creature lead them into what appeared to be a nest of some sort that was swarming with the ugly little fellas.
Other games worth of mention include the MMORPG True Fantasy Live Online, and Namco's first person brawler Breakdown. Breakdown looked especially interesting because of its movie-like presentation and unique gameplay mechanics. In addition to fighting, you'll also wield firearms, and even jump into vehicles on occasion. Rare also debuted a new title called Grabbed by the Ghoulies which looks like a cel-shaded monster adventure with a comedic twist. And yes, Conker will be making a return. Conker: Live and Uncut was shown very briefly on the video screen, but looks promising nonetheless. Ninja Gaiden and Fable were shown for only seconds as well, but they look better and better every time we see them!
Microsoft's Xbox Live service will be getting even better in the months ahead. MS plans to include new features that will allow you to receive notices of upcoming tournaments or games via any electronic device such as cell phones or PC's. Also, sports junkies will be pleased to hear about XSN Sports. A new Live sports service that allows players to create teams, tournaments, and leagues; you can also check your stats on all the sports games you play on Xbox Live. One of the coolest things about this is the virtual sports page. The concept is that if you play a game before you go to bed; when you wake up in the morning, you can visit the XSN page and read about your game on the virtual newspage.
MS is looking to expand the Xbox's functionality by allowing you to mix your own music and manage personal photos with new software. Xbox Music Mixer will allow you to make videos and music on your Xbox! It will be packaged with a microphone which can be used for good old-fashioned karaoke making the Xbox the ultimate party machine.
Oh, and there is one more title that MS showed off at the event; it's a little game we like to call Halo 2; maybe you've heard of it? This was by far the most impressive part of the conference; and Bungie was right: we should have packed an extra pair of underwear! A Bungie rep came out on stage and played through one of the game's early missions. What we saw showed off a ton of new elements in the Halo universe that are sure to please fans. The graphics were sharp and the animation was literally top-notch stuff. We watched in awe as the Master Chief displayed new moves such as manning a stationary turret gun, at which point the camera pulled back so we could see him in all that glorious shiny armor. What was even more impressive was when a Covenant warrior attacked him on a ghost (an alien air craft) and the Chief jumped onto the ghost, kicked the alien out of pilot's seat, and took control of the vehicle himself�BOO-YAH! One of the new aliens was also shown in the game. The Brute, a hulking ape-like creature jumped onto the hood of a moving warthog and smashed the driver from the vehicle. There is plenty more to tell you about this title, but we'll save that for a special, in-depth look at Halo 2 in an upcoming preview.