It's still the day before E3 officially begins, but Microsoft has already started the party off right at its Press Briefing. Microsoft made some big announcements in both games and hardware, some more exciting than others, but we've got the story on everything from Metal Gear Solid coming to Xbox and Microsoft's new motion control system.
The biggest innovation coming from Microsoft: their new motion control system for the Xbox 360. Obviously Microsoft has needed a way to compete with the Wii's popularity with casual gamers, so they've created their own way for users to control games without the controller. Interestingly enough, Microsoft's new feature won't even use a motion controller like the Wiimote everyone is familiar with.
Instead, Microsoft has unveiled Project Natal (the current code name), which uses a camera system to track the motion of your body, so you can use your hands, feet and even other objects to navigate and interact in game worlds.
Microsoft has also made it possible to get Facebook and Twitter integration on your Xbox Live account. You'll be able to manage your account and network with friends all within the Xbox Live platform. Additional improvements include SkyTV access to give you live streaming of TV shows (mostly cricket and soccer for now) and streaming movies too, so you don't need to download anything. Microsoft is also updating the Zune Video library to full 1080p HD. Finally, last.fm has jumped on the Xbox bandwagon and will offer music to Xbox Live Gold members for free.
Most of the press briefing, however was filled with trailers and teasers for upcoming games. We've got the rundown below and pictures here.
Metal Gear Solid - Microsoft pulled out none other than Hideo Kojima himself to announce that his Metal Gear Solid franchise would be coming to Xbox (Hallelujah!). Then he even showed off some teaser material for the next installment, Metal Gear Solid: Rising. Nothing much except a comment that this one's not about Solid Snake, but it will involve Raiden.
Halo 3 ODST - The latest Halo game got some demo love and we got to see some new sound suppressive guns and a new visor interface that Spartans don't have. You'll also spend time reliving experiences from squadmates as you piece together the story.
Halo Reach - Then the Bungie team unveiled the next project in development: Halo Reach. Apparently the game "Falls [sic] 2010" which might just refer to the orbital insertions in Halo, or an enormous typo meant to say that the game is coming in fall 2010. It's probably both.
Left 4 Dead 2: Just a quick teaser for the next L4D game, this time set in New Orleans with some people who like to get personal with axes and chainsaws when they run out of ammo. Interesting.
Splinter Cell: Conviction - The latest installment in the Splinter Cell franchise sees Sam going rogue and running on emotion. He'll also crawl all around the environment and sport some new moves. The trailer and demo managed to make the whole tired franchise look fresh.
Modern Warfare 2 - We saw the trailer that has been out for a while, but then they played a bit of it for us and we were pretty impressed. Game mechanics and animation were pretty smooth and there were a few awesome moments, like using an ice pick to unseat snowmobile riders. Yeah.
Final Fantasy XIII - We got an exclusive look at one of the beings you can summon later in the game, named Odin. Other than that, it was all gameplay and video we've seen before.
Alan Wake - One of the strangest trailers was for the new horror/thriller game Alan Wake, about an author whose wife goes missing, and something about a manuscript, and yada yada yada. But there are a lot of shadow demon/people and some pretty tense moments.
Crackdown 2 - This was only a quick teaser too, but there was plenty of sewer demon action with power suit acrobatics thrown in, so keep an eye on this one.
Forza Motorsport 3 - Microsoft spent a little too long on Forza 3, proclaiming again and again that this game was "The definitive racing game of this generation." Seriously, it seemed like they must have said that line at least 16 times. It's still just a racing game, but it looks a bit better and will now let you make HD videos in the game world.
Shadow Complex - A side-scrolling shooter from Epic Games for Xbox Arcade. Actually looked a little hokey and poorly executed. Here are two words from the game that perfectly describe the meh-ness: foam gun.
Joy Ride - Basically you customize a car for your avatar and drive it off ramps and halfpipes. Not particularly interesting or revolutionary in any way, but it's free to download and play.
Beside these trailers and demos, we got a special promotion of Tony Hawk's Ride from Tony Hawk himself. Nothing new, but we got to see the new board controller, and it looks cool enough. Just another accessory to buy, though.
Oh, and Microsoft trotted out some more stars to promote Beatles Rock Band. At first it was just Yoko Ono that they trotted out on the stage. We thought that was it, but then Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney sauntered out from behind the curtain. Obviously they didn't have too much to say other than things like "I like the game," but it was certainly a nice touch. We saw the game being played, and obviously it's just Rock Band but with Beatles music and avatars. The good news is that content will keep rolling out for the game. The entire Abbey Road album should be available for download not too long after launch, and there will be a special promotion for the "All You Need Is Love" track. All proceeds from that download will go to Doctors Without Borders.