Microsoft Press Conference: Not All Bad

So Microsoft are done, and let’s be honest, they were pretty good. They had some great games on show, a couple of big announcements and then there was Natal. However, here at TSA, we are dedicated to making our readers feel as good as possible, so sit back and relax as we deconstruct the Microsoft Press Conference with optimism and look at what it all means for us.

So we saw The Beatles. It looked fun! Anyone who is a fan of Rock Band should be excited for this as the interface looks sleeker and there is now room for multiple singers to maximise the fun. Not only that but the only mention of exclusivity throughout the whole show was for one song. One. This also gives hope for a simultaneous release across platforms which is a drastic improvement for us considering the delays we used to have to endure. If there was to be a wait, I’m sure we would have heard about it.

Next up, Tony Hawk showed us his new skateboard but still, there was no mention of any exclusivity. If Microsoft wanted to confirm the rumours being thrown around the other week, now would have been their chance. Modern Warfare 2 looked fun and as a bonus all exclusivity discussed here was only timed so we have nothing to worry about. Everything they get, we get. Final Fantasy XIII being played also looked great. I suppose you could be sad that it looks so good on the platform, but a spring 2010 release date was announced and if it means they get it spring 2010, we get it spring 2010 and if you’re feeling extremely optimistic, we might even get it sooner.

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Epic unveiled a new  XBLA side-scroller. It looked fun, but it wasn’t the horror title they’ve been working on which, if you’ll remember, is being rumoured to be a PS3 exclusive. Is there still more in store for us? If you finished watching the Joy Ride trailer feeling like you were missing out then you should just get out now. It looked like a poor mini-game that you would expect to find in home, and that’s exactly what it is. It’s just a way to bring avatars together, something we already have but with much more variety.

Crackdown 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 both looked intriguing. These two will be console exclusives but L4D2 will be on the PC, so you could always check that out there. There’s not really much that can be said to console anyone feeling nervous about these. They sound exciting. Deal with it. Play inFamous and Burn Zombie Burn if you’re really worried.

Splinter Cell looked great too. What’s worth remembering when watching it is that it’s developed by Ubisoft who are not bound to the 360. Whilst we won’t necessarily see the game on the PS3, the tech behind it is amazing as the game looked simply stunning and Ubisoft would be stupid to let this go to waste. I fully expect to see the greatness behind the game making its way to our black beauty in some form or another.

The creator of Forza 3 seemed to enjoy pointing out that it was the best racing game this generation. Did you miss him say that? It has a lot of names attached for licensing, 50 manufacturers and 400 cars, but that’s 200 less cars and 30 less manufacturers than Gran Turismo 4 on the PS2 and the numbers for GT5 are still to be announced. It certainly looks fantastic but we have a more than worthy counterpart. Both consoles will be getting a great racer this generation.

I still don’t see the fuss over Halo, but I’m sure it was exciting for those who love the games. The trailer for the next Halo got me interested but we won’t be seeing it so I’ve not bothered to think about it. I’m sure you can think for yourselves for a good fps on the PS3. Alan Wake looked fantastic. Amazing. I want it. I suppose we have Heavy Rain and Trico to look forward to in terms of innovative storytelling but nobody can deny that Alan Wake looked stunning and was incredibly atmospheric. If I had to register a complaint, I thought the characters chins looked a bit weird.

So the 360 will be getting facebook, twitter and last.fm. Good job Microsoft! Services we’ve had since day one! Yes, we can access each through the PlayStation’s browser. The integration facebook had was very good however. I’m not much of a social networker outside twitter, but even I would enjoy the convergence of my PSN and facebook. However, there is always vidzone to rival last.fm. The instant 1080p films sound exciting, but is it really going to work? My connection last night was struggling with the EA press conference and a laggy blogtv show. I don’t understand how it would cope with a full HD film streaming at 25 fps. At least they have a video store though. Also, Sky is just PlayTV that you have to pay for.

Ahh. Now we’re at the big one. Metal Gear Solid Rising. I’d like to clarify now. THIS IS NOT EXCLUSIVE! Firstly, Microsoft would have made sure that we knew about it if it was exclusive and a recent leak seems to confirm the multiplatformness of the title. I can’t wait. I’m actually so excited. Yes, you can sit and cry at the fact that the xbox will have MGS, but don’t cry! MGS4 is (in my opinion of course) the best game ever made. The fact that more people will be able to experience the storyline is great. We have lost nothing, only gained. It’s exciting!

And finally, Natal and Milo. The technology here is amazing. Don’t deny it. But as Alex said yesterday, it just won’t sit with the current hardcore owners. The 360 has machine guns and explosions, not paint and 3D pong. Twitter has been ablaze this morning talking about how great it is, but how will it really end up? It’s like the EyeToy when it was first released. Sure it was exciting, but how well will it really sell? Families that want their party console already have the Wii and its motion sensing. The world seems to set itself on fire at these kinds of announcements but it  never comes to anything. I’m not saying it will fail, I’m just saying it’s not the excitement everyone is thinking it could be. Home demonstrates that perfectly. It was met with widespread praise, but look at it now. Natal will surely be fun and will enjoy a few good party titles but after that, it’s going to fall a bit flat. It’ll get the odd mini-game here and there and after that, it just sits there. It’s really no different to the EyeToy.

Milo was what really impressed me, but how good will he really be? There are already reports that he might be a bit scripted but even if he does come out well, it’s not exactly going to become a new virtual best friend for you. You won’t be able to tell him the latest gossip or rant about the footy. There’s only so much he can be programmed to say and do. His potential for the future though is amazing. Imagine playing Killzone and having the characters turn and ask you where to go or what to do. Imagine motioning your hands to a teammate to get him to flank your enemy. It’s all very exciting for the future and let’s not forget that Microsoft loves to “copy” Sony. What’s to say the reverse won’t happen here. Ideas are made for others to copy and it’s only that way that we get the best. The PSN wouldn’t be what it is now if it weren’t for Live. What we’ve seen really is the future and I can’t wait to see how it unrolls. Not to mention, we have EyePet which has been on display for over a year and does virtually the same thing as Milo.

So you see, the Microsoft Conference wasn’t just a giant smack in the face for PS3 owners. It’s full of exciting news and potential for our system. We have our own counterparts for most of the games on show and even when we don’t we still have a lot of originality which 360 owners don’t have access to. The process works both ways. Enough of my chatter though, it’s less than an hour till Sony show us what they’ve been sitting on (or rather, not sitting on) and we’re all very excited.

It’s a good day to be a gamer.

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