X10 Round Up

Microsoft’s X10 show in San Francisco was a return to hosting their own event showcasing all (or at least most) that’s coming for Xbox fans. The previous event was in Barcelona ’06 and was, by all accounts, a much larger affair with a lot more glitz and glamour (although we made our own glamour at X10!).

Regardless of size or spectacle it has to be said that to have the confidence to show a roomful of games now Microsoft must be pretty sure that their E3 show has enough fresh content to keep the momentum going towards the holiday season. And if E3 has content to better X10 then we’re in for a real treat because this past week in San Francisco I saw some of the most promising games of this generation.

It was a relatively understated affair with no “booth-babes” and no publishers throwing armfuls of merchandise at you. It was just a dimly-lit room filled with TVs and 360s and I think it was all the better for that. We had access to developers to chat about their games. We were exceptionally well looked after by the PR contacts at the venue (and throughout the trip). That just isn’t possible when events are done on a massive scale.

So the setting was intimate and Microsoft’s confidence in their stable of top-quality games is clearly high. Was the content on offer really worthy of a whole show to itself though? This is debatable but I would say that given the information on offer and opportunities to get hands-on with many games a number of months before the big show in Los Angeles this was a shrewd move by Microsoft. They had journalists there from across Europe and the US so I guess they hit a wide audience with their message.

That message was heard loud and clear – the Xbox 360 has some great games on the way. This show was all about the software (hence no appearance from Natal – a hardware device) and was, I was told, Xbox’s way of showing their desire to keep pushing the games.

I’ve put together a little list of my personal highs and lows, just for fun.

  • Game of the Show: Splinter Cell Conviction – the fluidity of movement and the ease of control are quite special. This is going to be huge.
  • Surprise of the Show: Halo Reach – I know, a Halo game looking good isn’t a surprise but I wasn’t expecting this much of a visual upgrade on Halo 3 and ODST it was genuinely surprising and in a really good way!
  • Disappointment of the Show: Alan Wake’s cut-scenes – It was hard to pick a disappointment because in all honesty there was nothing really bad there. The poor facial animations and juddering frame-rate were a bit of a shock although I fully expect them to be up to scratch for the game’s release.
  • Most Promise Shown: Game Room – seven retro games a week for as long as that is viable and a reasonable pricing structure make Game Room attractive to anyone who remembers arcade classics. The leaderboards and pause, fast forward and rewind functions make Game Room more accessible for newcomers. Achievements are the icing on the cake for this service which might just have enough to keep us playing long into 2011 and beyond.

I would like to personally thanks Dan from WonderWallWeb who I met on the plane, he made a lonely trip to the Pacific coast into an enjoyable one, even when we were paying $10 for a beer! I’d also like to thank Anouska, my PR contact out there for making everything go so smoothly.

Further TSA X10 Coverage can be found here with the Hands-On and Impressions articles listed below.