Old 07-14-2008, 06:30 PM Offline   #1 (permalink)



 
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Default Gallery: Microsoft Guns for Hard-Core and Casual Gamers at E3

</img>: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.comLOS ANGELES -- The 2008 E3 Media and Business Summit kicked off Monday morning in the Los Angeles Convention Center with a lavish press conference courtesy of Microsoft. The makers of Xbox 360 find themselves competing on two fronts: They're fighting off the Wii's advance into nontraditional gamer markets and also trying to compete with Sony's PlayStation 3 for graphics gluttons and needy net users. In addition to new games, the company announced several new battle plans, such as copying Nintendo's cute characters, stealing exclusive titles like Final Fantasy XIII from Sony and courting people who don't like videogames by partnering with Netflix for on-demand movie streaming.
Left: Self-described "Xbox models" Leilani Dowding, left, and Desiree Rabuse greet attendees of the E3 Media and Business Summit at the Los Angeles Convention Center Monday morning. A gauntlet of models ushered hundreds of journalists into the convention center's packed West Hall.
</img>: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.comSecurity guard Byron Monroy keeps a watchful eye on the doors of the convention center. Unlike past years, this year's downscaled E3 summit doesn't occupy the whole of the convention center. Vast expanses of the halls are taken up by other conferences -- or wholly empty, in this case.
</img>: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com As the press filed in, Microsoft ran teaser trailers with Xbox owners (or paid actors, we're not sure) talking about all of the different things they love about their game machine of choice.
</img>: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com As the press filed in, Microsoft ran teaser trailers with Xbox owners (or paid actors, we're not sure) talking about all of the different things they love about their game machine of choice.
</img>: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.comThe press conference continued with a live demonstration of Epic Games' first-person shooter, Gears of War 2.
</img>: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com Microsoft said that it would completely revamp the Xbox user experience, throwing out the current "blades" interface and replacing it with a sleeker, more functional design. Users will now have cute personalized avatars that represent them in the online world of Xbox 360. Now, when you game with your friends, your virtual selves will mix and mingle. Among the games that will use avatars include trivia titles like a new Xbox version of Scene It.
</img>: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.comGalaga Legions is one of the downloadable games for Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade service that the company showed at the conference. It is a total re-imagining of the classic arcade shooting game.
</img>: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.comMicrosoft showed a very brief teaser that indicated that a downloadable game based on South Park is headed to Xbox Live Arcade. After the press conference, a Microsoft executive said that South Park's creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were "very involved" in the creation of the game, but offered no more details.
</img>: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.comAnother casual, social gaming experience coming this holiday season to Xbox 360 is You're in the Movies, a game that uses the Xbox's camera attachment. Players act out scenes from movies while playing a variety of minigames, and when they're done, the game transposes their images into a few different trailers for bizarre B-movies. It's like playing Mad Libs with your whole body.
</img>: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.comWelsh singer/songwriter Duffy took the stage to introduce Lips, a karaoke game set for release this winter. She sang her song "Mercy," which will be included in the game. Lips will also allow players to plug in their iPod (or Zune!) and sing along to their own songs. The microphone controllers contain motion sensors, so players can swing them around to make tambourine noises as they sing.
</img>: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.comAlex Rigopulos, president and CEO of Rock Band-maker Harmonix, took the stage to announce a variety of surprise new songs that will appear in the next version of the game, slated for this fall. Guns N' Roses will release the first track from Chinese Democracy as a Rock Band 2 track. Bob Dylan and AC/DC will make their music-game debuts in this version of the game. And users will be able to import their Rock Band 1 tracks into the sequel, so they won't have to swap discs to play their dream concert. All told, Rigopulos said that over 500 different songs will be playable in Rock Band 2 by the end of 2008. The game will be released on Xbox 360 in September and other platforms later in the year.
</img>: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.comIn true E3 style, Microsoft closed their press conference with a bombshell announcement. Yoichi Wada, president of Square Enix, announced that Final Fantasy XIII -- previously the single biggest exclusive upcoming title for Sony's PlayStation 3 -- would in fact launch on Xbox 360 simultaneously. The trailer itself contained much of the same pre-rendered footage that Square Enix showed at E3 two years ago, meaning that the game is likely still far away from its release date.


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