Microsoft Conference Minute By Minute Reaction

After last year’s E3 press conference, there was a fairly unanimous consensus that Microsoft had had the strongest showing in their press conference. The unveiling of Project Natal, along with a string of high-profile game announcements and star guests ensured that the Xbox 360 had a killer presentation. So would 2010’s press conference live up to this high watermark? Read on to find out my minute by minute reaction to the Microsoft press conference.

1: Opening with a Call of Duty: Black Ops trailer huh? Seen it before but it’s still neat. Think I preferred the Beatles opener from last year.

9: And here come Don Mattrick, smug-looking as ever. Announces that CoD DLC will be on 360 first for the next three years. That’s some exclusivity deal, I’d love to know how much money changed hands for that.

11: There’s a very un-scientific chart showing the ‘biggest blockbusters’ in the games industry – Halo, Gears of War and Call of Duty. Take that Uncharted!

13: Natal officially renamed as Kinect. Must have tested well with the focus groups I suppose. It’s less obscure than the former, but I still think it’s sort of weak. Crowd didn’t seem overly impressed either.

16: Kojima and his buddy come out to introduce Metal Gear Solid:Rising. Now THAT’S how you make a trailer. They showed about 1 minute of Raiden ‘cutting at will’. In other words, slicing up enemies any which way you choose. In other words, awesome. If that works with Kinect then I’m buying it, no questions asked.

21: It’s all exclusives from here on in, starting with Bleszinski showing off Gears of War 3. I’m not a Gears fan, but the Co-Op demo did look very neat.

25: And here’s Peter Molyneux flying the flag for the Brits. Fable III trailer was quite swish. Not much new shown, but it’s Fable so I’m looking forward to playing it.

27: Brief trailer for a new Crytek game, Codename Kingdoms. It featured some angry looking Spartan-type dudes. I guess they’re still thinking of a way to work ‘Cry’ into the title.

32: Finally, I get to hear from Bungie. The Halo: Reach campaign demo has gotten me far more excited than any of the multiplayer stuff. I hope they keep the future-guitar soundtrack they’ve got going on in this demo as well. Stuff’s rockin’.

34: Oh, and space combat? Delicious.

36: Marc Whitten’s Xbox equation: Power + Service + Magic = Good Times. You can’t argue with that sort of logic.

40: Some dude called Ron is showing off the Kinect interface. It’s not quite Minority Report (how has that movie become so well-known because of one short scene where he moves that stuff with his hands?) but it’s pretty damn slick.

43: All right, now we’ve got twin chicks video chatting through Kinect. Honestly, this seems more appealing to me than Facetime on iPhone 4, especially with the option to watch media together. Also: Nice achievement whore zing!

48: Sports Centre dudes are talking about streaming ESPN video. Sounds similar to what we Brits already have with the Sky Player. And there’s an England World Cup soccer put down in there for good measure. Here of all places, I expected to escape the ridicule. Alas, it seems not.

52: Oh lord, Kudo’s back. And he’s still wearing a dumb tracksuit. And what’s with the sunglasses?

53: Kinectimals? I can hear the Xbox PR pitch now. ‘It’s like Nintendogs, but with Kinect! And you can have tigers and monkeys and rhinos and stuff.’ It makes sense. But seriously, Kinectimals?

64: A long ol’ demonstration of launch titles here. They’ve shown Nintendogs, Wii Sports, Mario Kart and WarioWare. Oh sorry, I meant Kinectimals, Kinect Sports, Joy Ride and Kinect Adventures. Easy mistake to make.

68: Forget Halo: Combat Evolved. Ubisoft has YourShape: Fitness Evolved. Or Kinect Wii Fit for want of a better name.

79: For pure entertainment value, the Harmonix Dance Central demonstration was probably the best thing so far in this presentation. You throw those elbows man! Kinect is launching November 4th by the way, with 15 launch titles. There’s Sonic game up there, lord knows what that will be.

82: Half the audience passes out from sheer euphoria as they show a teaser for a Kinect Star Wars game coming next year. Or so I imagine.

87: A new Forza game being demoed? I’m getting some 2009 deja vu. Last year they didn’t have a sweet VR car showroom though, oh no. Kinect lets you walk ‘around’ a virtual Ferrari. If it turns out to be as cool as it looks, the I’m sold. Nearly.

89: And here comes Don to finish the show…

90: Hooray! New Xbox 360s for everybody! If you were in the audience. Which I was not. Ah. Still, a smaller, quieter, cheap, slightly squat-looking new 360 is big news. Will it be a hit? Only time will tell? Will it break within moments of you starting it up. Almost certainly.

And with that, the show comes to an abrupt finish. Overall, it was a fairly strong conference, though more time was given to the simple Kinect games than I cared for. The new hardware and community features all impressed, the demos and trailers for the ‘blockbuster’ titles all delivered and though it lacked the big-name guests and shock value of 2009’s presentation, it has me excited for Microsoft’s upcoming year.

High Point: The MGS: Rising trailer. I’d all but forgotten about it, but 30 seconds of gameplay footage shot it to the summit of my Anticipated Games list.

Low Point: YourShape: Fitness Evolved. Hilarious title aside, the demo was a snore-fest.

Biggest Surprise: The New Xbox 360. It’s here! It looks squashed! You can buy it this week!

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