Microsoft E3 Impressions

The Microsoft E3 presentation has just concluded, so I figured I'd share my thoughts on the major announcements. I'm sure the other NGP lads will be posting their own impressions later, so if I don't cover something you were interested in, they might! I wasn't able to get the feed working until the Gears of War 2 section, but I saw everything from that point on.

1. Gears of War 2 looked great, as you would expect. Lots of fun new ways to dispatch the Locusts, with all of the typical firing from cover, roadie running and beefy weapons that makes Gears so great being present in the trailer. I say trailer and not "gameplay session with Cliffy B" because their demo appeared to freeze and restart about 15 seconds into it. Whoops!

2. The new dashboard interface looks nice. Reminds me a bit of Vista's window shuffling thing. The avatars are obviously a Mii rip-off, but they look like they'll have lots of customization available, and be integrated into a number of titles. Come to think of it, Nintendo has really let a good thing slide with Miis. A lot of folks like them, but they've never put out new clothes or faces or anything since the launch of the console. Seems like a missed opportunity that Microsoft is going to jump on now.

3. Live Arcade looks like it'll have some fun additions. Geometry Wars sequel looked especially good. I love that game, even though I'm terrible at it. New Portal levels are always welcome too! The three second South Park didn't do much for me, but I've never been wild about the show.

4. Viva Pinata 2 is a game I never thought would get made. Didn't think the first one sold all that well. It's a fantastic game though, if you don't mind your roommates questioning your sexual orientation the first time they see you playing it. 100 new pinata varieties for the sequel and some sort of card-collection game, I guess using the Vision Cam?

5. A Scene It sequel! First one was great with 4 players, bringing the avatars into it seems like a natural idea.

6. The "You're in the Movies" game looked moronic to me. I can see kids liking it though, it had the look of one of those games where the commercial shows a family that's just a little too into the game they're playing? You know the ones I mean, where the bald dad is red-faced and yelling at his sweater-wearing wife to do a better job being Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver? On a side note, I felt really bad for the Microsoft lady they made do the dancing routine to demonstrate this game. The internet is going to eat that poor woman alive.

7. The guy talking about Guitar Hero: World Tour kept doing pauses for applause that died a horrible death. It became funnier every time he did it! There's something about people giving really awkward presentations that makes me happy on an evil level.

8. "Lips" will probably be quite popular, but could they have picked a more bland song to demonstrate the game? A bunch of boring looking people sit around and croon into a flashy mic to a boring song. Woo-ho. Then some girl tries to save the party by busting out a hip-hop song, but the movie ends. Pass. The ability to load tracks from your Zune or iPod looked pretty cool though.

9. Rock Band 2 mostly told us stuff we already know, but it was still great to hear we're getting 84 new tracks, no covers, and the ability to export our music from RB1 over. Harmonix feels more and more like the company that really tries to make their fans happy. I'll definitely be in line for this one.

All in all, an entertaining presentation. It would have been nice to have more big announcements, but it would be hard to match 2007. There was no Halo to talk about, and that’s fine. That franchise shouldn’t be the only reason people turn on their 360s anyway. FFXIII was a big deal to those who care about platform exclusivity and such, but I haven’t played a FF since 7, so it’s a bit lost on me. I’ll be eager to see what Sony and Nintendo can counter with as the week goes on!