Tag Archives: Halo

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Review

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (Available exclusively on Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1-16
Genre: FPS
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: 343 Industries / Saber Interactive
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Xbox Live: Online multiplayer
Kinect-supported

Parent Talk: Do you remember Halo: Combat Evolved?  If so, you know there’s a lot of blue and green blood, and tons of aliens to destroy by any means necessary.  The ESRB rates Halo Anniversary M for mature as such.

Plays Like: The original Halo and most other FPS games available.

Review Basis: Finished the campaign with a buddy, and tried what amounts to the new Halo: Reach map pack.

Halo Anniversary is wonderful fan service for everyone that enjoyed the original 2001 Xbox masterpiece. My goodness, has it been ten years already?!  Newcomers and old-timers alike can enjoy Anniversary, but a few refinements would have helped in completing the reimagination of the original classic.

The Great:

Finally, online co-op arrives in the campaign that started it all. After ten years, it’s wonderful to grab a friend, head online and play Halo. That’s where this HD remake shines the brightest because it’s a feature players asked for since Live originally launched.

The Good:

+ Original mystery still holds up.  The story is minimal, which is what makes it so great.  You don’t really know what’s happening, and when you do it’s too late…events are already set in motion that will change the future forever.  I loved reliving this excellent tale.

+ Nice extras.  Hidden skulls are added to each campaign mission, new terminal videos reveal more detail about the plot, and other tidbits here and there make Halo Anniversary a slightly more enhanced HD remake than you’re probably accustomed to.

+ Love and care.  Unlike most remakes that just upscale the resolution to 1080p, 343 Industries stepped up and used the Saber engine to bring Combat Evolved to life like never before.  While not as detailed and rich as modern shooters, the attention marks this as one of the best HD remakes we’ve seen thus far. 343 should be commended.

+ Switching between the original visuals, and the enhanced version. It shows you how much nicer the graphics truly are. There’s a slight delay while switching, so we don’t recommend doing so during a heavy gunfight.

+ The map pack is excellent for the online community. 343 essentially wrapped Halo maps around the Reach engine, thus this isn’t really Combat Evolved. The original multiplayer is nowhere to be found.  Some of our Halo and H2 favorites are featured, but it’s Reach’s gameplay. Furthermore, achievement progression for this pack goes towards Reach, and not Anniversary. Achievements for the remake deal only with the campaign.

The So-So:

+/- The campaign.  Huh?  Most of the campaign is a delight, but Halo hasn’t aged as well as some would like to think.  While still fun, it’s also repetitious.  The environments blend, especially towards the end.  Anyone remember the Library?  It’s even more annoying than it was ten years ago.

+/- Kinect support works well while watching the terminal videos, but fails to impress during gameplay.  You can shout commands such as “grenade” to lob a ‘nade at an enemy, but it’s a problem when there’s a delay between speaking and Master Chief actually throwing. It’s much easier to just press a button.

+/- Some say don’t mess with a classic, but the franchise’s overall improvements show how dated Halo can be.  There’s no dual-wielding or plasma swords, and really some of the additions should have been included in a “Remix” mode or something similar.  As it is, I feel Anniversary didn’t go the distance. Some will argue that you’re paying for an HD remake. In that regard, the game delivers.

The Bad:

– All the original issues are still there: repetitive level design; loose Warthog controls and questionable AI.  You expect this in a remake, but just be warned.

The Ugly:

Conquering the Library after all these years.  It’s ugly alright…

The Lowdown:

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is intended for those looking to experience Halo with a fresh coat of paint. There’s not much to dislike about a $20 cheaper-than-retail price and the inclusion of a fairly deep Reach map pack. I would have appreciated a few more refinements to the gameplay given all the improvements made to the visuals.  The best new feature is the online co-op.  This is an easy recommend for those wanting to re-experience a modern shooter classic.

Average Score Scale: 8.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 8/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: If you can’t get enough Halo, there’s enough here to keep you occupied for the next month or so.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: If you’ve played Combat Evolved a thousand times and want more modern refinements.

E3 2011 – Microsoft Leaks Halo 4, Halo CE: Anniversary Edition

Looks like someone over at the Microsoft Xbox site is in a little trouble.  The following image was just released on Xbox.com.

So now we can confirm Halo 4, Halo Combat Evolved: Anniversary Edition and those Kinect sequels are in the works.  On top of that there’s a new Xbox Live feature coming called Voice Search.  We’ll have all the news from the big conference as it happens via our live blog.  Ahmed and I are already getting everything in order if you care to join us.

Another Halo HD Remake Makes The Rounds

Some time ago a VP at Microsoft said ideally they would like to release a new Halo every year.  That appears to be coming to fruition.  Joystiq has a story up that seems to be pretty well spot on with the rumblings I’ve heard over the past year to year and a half.  If you’re interested in Halo HD, this is the news you’ve been waiting for.

According to Joystiq’s latest rumour, Saber Interactive are the ones developing the game, but are not using the Reach engine, instead using something entire different.  Saber developed TimeShift and the upcoming Inversion.

Players can look forward to lush 1080p visuals, entirely new art assets, and even 3D functionality.  The original voice acting will remain intact, for those worried.  Obviously this is still a rumour at this point in time, but all these allegations are coming from somewhere.  As the old saying goes, where there’s smoke there’s fire.  343 Industries, Microsoft’s in-house team, is overseeing the project along with the ‘other’ Halo game in the works.  We expect full details to be released later this summer at E3.

Keep in mind that we’re in the ten year anniversary for the series so this HD remake makes a lot of sense.   The final bit of news we have is the supposed release date, November 15, 2011.  Are you ready to jump back into the original Halo?

For me, I’m kind of in the middle.  While I loved the original Halo, the chance to maybe have an online co-op mode is enticing, but I don’t want them to touch the story.  Release this for $30, give it a fresh coat of paint, improve the multiplayer and I’ll certainly check it out.  I know my brother would be all over this if it hits.  I’m also fairly certain it will be true because there’s no way MS would miss an opportunity to make millions to cash in on the tenth anniversary of their number one franchise.  Obviously my biggest fear if Microsoft destroying the series by milking it to death.  We DO NOT need a new Halo every single year.  I think even Call of Duty is really starting to wear thin, but hey, who am I?

A look back Part 2: There ain’t no party like an X-Box party!

Welcome to yet another wonderful addition of whatever this series is called! Today, I’m gonna be listing my top 5 favourite X-Box games. Why you ask? Because that’s the whole point of the article. First, a little history lesson. I was a huge Nintendo fanboy back in the day. Buying another system was totally out of the question. I would blindly bash any of the top games released on the “other” consoles just to convince myself I was right and everybody else was wrong. Turns out, I was the one who was wrong. Last generation, each console had something spectacular to offer. I finally bought the new (at the time) transparent green box and never looked back. If I had to name one thing revolutionary from last generation, something that changes how we play console games, my choice would be X-Box live without a single doubt. That thing made it simple to play and chat with your friends wherever they may be. Anyhow, let this top 5 begin. You may notice that my top 5 is mainly composed of 2 series, that’s not because the library was week, au contraire, it’s simply because these two series kick all kinds of ass!

Honorable mentions:  Ninja Gaiden Black, Metal Gear Solid 2: Subsistence, Metal slug 3, Fable, Panzer Dragoon Orta, Jade Empire.

5.

I had so much fun with this title back in the day it’s unreal. This is still the best Burnout in the series. My memory is a bit lame right now, and I’m too lazy to do some research, but I’m pretty sure oncoming traffic was a first for Burnout. What I do know is that it introduced online modes to the series. The only thing I hated about the game was that it was impossible to get the lead no matter how good you were. Besides that, everything else was a winner. I don’t have much inspiration to explain why Takedown belongs on my list, just know that this was the best arcade racing game available. Today, I’m pretty sure it still holds out.

4.

Halo: Combat Evolved put the X-Box on the map. At first, I was hesitant. My FPS skills were questionable. I couldn’t understand somehow that the covenant’s shield had to be brought down before you could kill them (many noobs still don’t).  I was finally caved and found one of the best campaigns  ever  in a first-person shooter. It just spells epicness. The plot spawned many novels and comic books because fans wanted more. The levels were all memorable and unique (expect for the library perhaps) and the reveal of the flood is still one of my all time favourite gaming moments. The commercials were awesome too! “Citizens or Earth, we are in deep doo-doo” Classic!

3.

Halo 1 put the X-Box on the map, Halo 2 did the same for X-Box Live. Every great online game today has Halo 2 to thank for. I logged hours after hours onto the game’s online multiplayer. When I got back home for Christmas, I realized something. I was owning everyone who wouldn’t play on Live. It was a blast to play and it also improved your skills dramatically. Everyone had to buy X-Box Live after that. Halo 2 is also the only midnight launch I ever participated in. For that, it will always have a special place in my heart. We waited in line like everyone else, then when the time midnight struck, we had a good hour and a half of walking ahead of us since we could no longer catch a bus. We still played till 6 in the morning when we arrived. Completed it the very next day. The campaign was excellent, although it did piss a lot of people off that only one mission took place on Earth. The tagline of Halo 2 was something like “Bring the fight to Earth” so you can see how surprising it was to play the game and only have one Earth mission. The ending left us wanting more as we would have to wait another three years to “finish the fight“. Halo 2 remains the hardest game in the series and the only one I can’t beat on Legendary. Nonetheless, the meat of the game was online. To give you an idea of how epic the game was, Microsoft only recently closed the servers a few months ago. The only way to play the game online was if you were already online. Eight people remained and kept there X-Boxes on to prevent being booted out forever. They would play until electricity ran out, their system froze, or until there X-Box couldn’t take anymore. There were finally two left and Microsoft closed it for good. They were compensated for there efforts but still, it’s a bit sad to know that such a legend isn’t playable online anymore. What I would have given to be part of the few left at the end fighting for its survival. Longue vie to Halo 2!

2.

I would wake up around 10 in the morning, pop in Kotor II and play till 2AM everyday until I completed it. When I did, I played it again, this time as a Dark Jedi. This one improved on everything the original had to offer. I can’t believe that we’ll never get part 3. I don’t want to go too much into details here because well, I’ll save it for number 1.

1.

Honestly, if you’re a Star Wars fan and have never played this, you’re a sinner. Seriously, you should probably turn yourself over. You’re an idiot. You really are. The Kotor series is my favorite RPG series of all time and for good reason. No two people will play this game the same way. Scratch that, out of a group of 100 people, none would have the same results. Although BioWare would greatly improve on this formula with the Mass Effect series, this is where it started. Plus it has the Star Wars franchise attached to it. What more could you ask for? Although Kotor II remains my favourite of the two, I put Kotor on top for a single reason. The single most wtf plot twist in the history of the universe! If you saw it coming, you’re lying! Either that or you read about it somewhere, a friend told you or you designed this very game. The storyline is fantastic, heck, its better then the original trilogy. Think “Luke, I’m your father” was shocking, think again. Compared to this game’s revelation, it’s nothing! Kotor can be played on the 360, so if you still haven’t experienced this game, you no longer have any excuses. Just talking about it makes me want to play it again.

Well there you have it folks. Next week I’ll do the impossible. Somehow, I’ll manage a Top 5 PlayStation 2 list. With the console’s delicious library, I might not maintain my sanity trying to work out a list. See you there and be sure to comment below, whether or not you own the system, I’m sure each and everyone of you has played it at one point.

Halo Remake First Title By New Halo Developer?

In-between Black Ops zombie sessions (damn those two achievements!), I had just enough time to whip up this story.  It’s starting to sound as though the first title to be developed by the new Halo makers (343 Industries), will be a remake of Halo: Combat Evolved.  1Up is my source for the rumor, but it seems like a logical move considering the ongoing success of the series.  All the rumor suggests is that the remake will be released in late 2011 followed by Halo 4 in 2012.  Microsoft has said before they wanted to release one Halo a year to mimic the success of Call of Duty.  Obviously we have no clue if this rumor holds any weight, but I thought it was interesting just the same.  Would you be interested in a Halo remake already?

Bungie Weekly Update Lets Slip 10 New Halo Reach Achievements

During the usual Bungie Weekly Update, the company let slip the following screenshot:

As you can clearly see, the gamerscore shows 1250, instead of 1000 and lists 59 achievements instead of the current 49.  Bungie says they have something special planned for October.  It seems pretty obvious that this something special will be a new DLC pack.  Considering Halo 3 has a total gamerscore of 1750, and a whopping 79 achievements!  Needless to say it doesn’t take a genius to realize Bungie has big plans for Reach.

Halo Goes Yearly?

Here’s a good quote for you this morning.  It’s from Microsoft Game Studios Corporate Vice President Phil Spencer.

There’s no explicit strategy that says we’re to ship a Halo game every year. I will say I think one Halo game every three years — which was kind of our old cadence – is probably not frequent enough.

What do you think of that?  We know Bungie has held really tight control over the Halo franchise since the original title launched the Xbox back in 2001.  Now that 343 Industries has taken over control of the franchise, will we be looking at a yearly release schedule?  Personally I hope not.  I wouldn’t mind one every two or three years because it allows you to crave the next big one.  Do you think Mario, or Zelda would still be around if the main games were released every year?  I seriously doubt it.

While this quote means nothing per say, what do you guys think about this?  Would you like Halo to become like Call of Duty?  You already know my answer ;)

Halo Reach Has Been Conquered

It really is time to "Finish the Fight"

If you’re wondering where our Halo Reach review is, well I’m here to tell you all about it.  I scored the game last Tuesday, exactly a week ago today.  I’ve been playing through the campaign all by my lonesome because Steven and Marc-Andre are completely obsessed with NHL 11.  Hopefully Steven is able to pump out a Spidey review before too long.  Keep putting pressure on him, it’ll happen ;)

Anyways, for the past week I’ve been making my way through the campaign on Legendary.  With Halo I find Normal way too easy, but playing through the entire game on Heroic just seems like a cop-out.  So Legendary is it!  I’ll tell you this right now, it’s by far the most difficult Halo yet.  I don’t want to get into too many details right now, because that’s what the review is for.  What I will say is, this is the perfect game for co-op fans.  The age-old rule still applies, keep one buddy behind and let the other advance.  If you happen to have four players, all the better.  You can complete the entire campaign on Legendary within a day’s play.  By yourself though, things are far from simple.

For one thing, the checkpoint system is your worst friend.  I can’t tell you how many times a checkpoint went off right when I had no ammo and a ton of brutes right around the corner.  This forced me to try and find an alternative path, but often I would actually have to restart that mission.  Ok, that’s a lie.  I say often, but the truth is I only did this once.  I did get stuck several times because of the checkpoint system though.  Every time it happened I got a little more frustrated.

Another potential issue for those wanting to score that A Monument to All Your Sins achievement, is the way you think you’re going to have help early on, only to find out…surprise, you’re all by yourself.  During the first few missions you have Team Noble by your side.  These guys are completely invulnerable.  This allows you to sit back and let them do most of the work.  Sounds good right, well not exactly.  You see the partner AI is as dumb as a doornail.  I can’t begin to tell you how often the team just waited for me to get into the fight.  I didn’t want them to do everything for me, but the fact they couldn’t kill a single grunt was a little ridiculous.  On the flip side the enemy AI is the best I’ve seen in any Halo.  These guys are brutal!  They’ll throw tons of grenades your way, back off when their shields go down, and flank you…constantly.

One of my issues I’ve always had with this series, particularly on Legendary is that your enemies require a ton of ammo to take down, whereas you only take a few.  I’d love it if it were the same for both, two shots, and everyone dies.  That at least seems more fair.  Ok, I’m starting to veer off a bit here.  Let’s get things back on track.  If you plan to play through the campaign on Legendary, just make damn sure you have a lot of ammo, and be prepared to take out everyone, all by yourself.  By around the fourth mission, you start to go at it with marines, and they get killed within seconds.  If you’re not up to the challenge, just play through the campaign with a buddy.  Just note, you can’t get that one special achievement unless you go it alone.  Good luck!

Outside of these two issues with the Legendary mode, I want everyone to get out there and give this one a go.  It’s my favorite Halo since the original.  Something about 2 and 3 never really clicked with me.  That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy them, just that they felt too much like me-too games.  The first felt original, had a mysterious storyline, and was all around a fantastic game.  With the second and third I never really liked where the story went.  It just didn’t have that same mysterious feeling the first one did.  Again, this may just be me.  If you’re a hardcore fan of the trilogy, just ignore me.  With Reach I loved how the Flood weren’t forced into the game, this one is purely about Planet Reach and the invasion.  It also ties perfectly up with the original.  George Lucas could take notes about this.  The story is also that much more interesting because of this mysterious background.  All around, I think anyone who really loved the original Halo will find a ton of joy with Reach.  Everyone else who adored 2 and 3, you’re going to love this one too.  It fits perfectly with the others, and lets you know what happened right before the Pillar of Autumn embarked on her classic voyage.

All I have to do now is play through a few multiplayer games to see how Firefight is, and that’s about it.  I already played through the first three missions with Steven and Marc-Andre, so I know exactly how co-op feels.  Sorry for the delay with the review, but as I said, I really wanted to finish this bad boy off on Legendary…alone.  Now that I’m finished, I can get back to work…which is exactly what I’ll be going to do right…now!

Halo 3: ODST Review

ODSTHalo 3: ODST [Xbox 360]
Players: 1 to 16
Genre: FPS
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Bungie
Release Date: September 15th, 2009

September 15, 2007 is a day most people wouldn’t remember, but it was somehow responsible for my failing a lame attempt to graduate college. Halo 3 arrived, and like Halo 2 before it, its Xbox Live support swallowed my days and nights as a result.  Halo 3 featured the most complete and satisfying multiplayer online experience I’d ever seen before. For me, Xbox Live was created for Halo. I enjoy single-player games like anyone else, but also believe gaming is meant to be shared. My most precious memories are tied to time spent with someone else, like when my good buddy Jarrod and I played Gears of War online for nine straight hours during a week night to finish the game on Insane difficulty. I also cherish all the countless hours with my sister playing Contra on the NES when we were just five years old.  This is what gaming’s all about. Always has been, always will be.

Enter Halo 3: ODST, which doesn’t disappoint by providing the full competitive online experience of Halo 3 along with a brand-new campaign.  I also can’t forget the most kick-ass feature added to Halo in years, Firefight. This mode has been done in other first-person shooters over the years. Think of it as surviving as long as possible battling endless waves of enemies. It’s a simple design, but very effective.  It also happens to be extremely challenging. After each around, the game triggers different skulls that bear a unique effect on the outcome. For example, when the skull “catch” is activated, the enemy becomes “grenade happy.” Playing on harder difficulties, it’s ridiculous how puny little grunts become so annoying. Stickies fly everywhere. Other skulls require you to melee enemies to regain stamina, or cause bullets to bounce off Covenant shields forcing the use of laser-enabled weapons. Tactics and teamwork is the key to success, as respawning is limited.  Those that don’t enjoy deathmatches or competitive gaming altogether finally have a reason to continue playing Halo after they’ve dealt with the campaign. Firefight adds dozens of hours to ODST.

halo_odst1

One problem can plague Firefight however, your internet connection.  While playing, the host or someone in the party often lost connection to Live.  In Halo 3, the server simply designated a new host and kept things moving.  If this happens in Firefight though, you’re done.  The worst is that unlocking some achievements requires up to two hours.  Disconnecting mere minutes before scoring an achievement is entirely possible.  Solutions to this problem have been discussed on the net, pointing mainly to the need to have  on-going OPEN NAT settings to ensure a clean and pleasant online experience. Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily common knowledge for everyone. Just double-check your online setup before you start and it should be fine. Clearly this must be addressed moving forward.

The original Halo arguably sports one of the best, if not the best campaigns in a sci-fi FPS. Not only was the story fantastic, but the ten chapters were a blast to play. ODST is basically a trip down memory lane.  Halo 2’s dual-wielding, shields, battle rifle and regeneration are all in the past, as ODST brings back the classic pistol and med packs from Combat Evolved. The pistol is your likely weapon of choice 99% of the time; it feels great to have it back. In addition, the AI is as solid as ever, with some surprise additions. Grunts now sticky-grenade themselves twice and run towards you when they see no way out! Hence the birth of the “kamikaze” grunts. Expect many deaths thanks to these little buggers.

halo_odst2

The campaign is on the short side nonetheless, running around eight hours depending on the chosen difficulty level. Even so, it’s a sweet ride that most will probably want to complete twice.  The plot is hit and miss, depending on your taste. Since most missions are flashbacks, it’s actually a bit confusing. It feels like nothing is happening most of the time.  ODST is really just an excuse to kill more Covenant forces. The romance aspect didn’t capture my attention.  However, a side-quest challenging you to collect audiophiles that tie loose ends a lot more is done in an entertaining matter.  No less, this Halo 3 expansion doesn’t feel quite as epic as previous entries.

Despite the brief campaign, this two-disc set is action-packed.  You can expect to play Firefight alone for weeks to come. Achievement whores also have a lot to love in ODST, as the Firefight ones are especially challenging. Try scoring Endure, and you will know the meaning of punishment. The second disc contains the competitive multiplayer. It features Halo 3’s maps, plus another exclusive to ODST. If you want details on the multiplayer, head here for our review for Halo 3. ODST has enough value to occupy you until Reach releases sometime next year.

halo_odst3

In terms of presentation, you’ll see all the classic Halo enemy designs. While the Halo 3 engine is showing its age, and some campaign levels look too similar to one another, the artistic flavour is just as impressive as when Halo 3 initially hit. This is thanks to improved art design. The color palette alone is more appealing. Particles come alive in ODST whereas Halo 3’s just popped. The voice work is also top-notch, featuring the talent from everyone’s favourite western sci-fi, Firefly. Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin and Alan Tudyk back the marines. It’s great to hear them together for the first time since Serenity. Music-wise, expect nothing short of brilliance. You really feel an emotional connection to the fantastic overture that plays throughout the game. ODST is another win for Bungie.  After all these years, we expect no less than they’re best.

halo_odst4

Halo 3: ODST is a solid addition to the franchise. It’s not 4, but it’s Halo, and that’s all you need to know. Firefight by itself is enough to warrant a purchase, barring the campaign mode. Halo fanatics shouldn’t be without this, it’s that simple. For newcomers, there’s no better place to start. ODST comes with a high recommendation; buy it.

Scoreboard:

Storyline: 7/10

Gameplay: 9.5/10

Controls: 10/10

Graphics: 9/10

Sound: 9.5/10

Value: 9/10

Overall (Not an average): 9.1/10

E3 2009 – Microsoft Conference Live Blog!!!

Hey guys, Justin and I have arrived!!!!  We’re here in the Galen Center waiting for the conference to start.  Here we are….

Next up, we’ll start live-blogging the actual event.

It’s now 10:10 and we’re still waiting…

Still waiting…

It’s about to begin.  We’re now hearing music and Justin is filming away.  Get ready for madness!!!!

Damn it!  We thought they were starting, but instead it was just a teaser gallery.  They showcased Lips: Number One Hits.  Oh well, more waiting for us.

Another teaser, this time we got one for 1 vs 100 Live!

This is a sign saying the following segment features mature content, and then we didn’t see anything.  Classic!  That’s from Justin, by the way ;)

We just got word that the conference is going to start in five minutes, so strap in and prepare for greatness!

Ok guys, we’re about to start.  Music just increased in volume, and lights are dimming!

Trailer montage…

The Beatles: Rock Band (It has a really unique visual flavor to it – Justin will update the video later to show you all)

We’re now hearing a commentary from two of the developers from the game.  The video we saw was the opening cinematic of the game.

9/9/09 The Beatles: Rock Band official release date!

Now we’re seeing a live demo session being played out.  Sadly no official Beatles members yet.

Giles Martin now onscreen continuing to talk about The Beatles: Rock Band.

45 Beatles songs included in the game, all remastered, plus never-before-heard content and music sessions.

DLC will be released shortly after release, first album being Abby Road.

“All You Need Is Love” will be an Xbox Live exclusive.

Wow, Yoko Ono (forgot her official spelling of her name)  Anyways, Yoko is here to endorse the game.

HOLY SHIT – Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney are HERE, talking about the game!  Talk about a standing ovation.  I can’t believe I got to see both of these legendary men with my own eyes.  Wow, what an experience.  Justin is here floored as well.

Microsoft Game Studios VIP now up saying – No charts and graphs, it’s about the games today,  10 world premiere games never before seen. Awesome, no?  New ways to connect to friends, and today we’re going to see history according to MS.  Let’s get on with the game.

Tony Hawk Ride – Tony Hawk here to show off the game.  He’s talking about the final peripheral.  It seems quite amazing how powerful the skateboard is.  Now we’re getting the world exclusive trailer.  Looks pretty good, and I dislike skateboarding lol.  The demo at E3 will be playable on 360s.

Modern Warfare 2 – Trailer looks SICK! 11/10/2009 (November 10th) Release Date. We’re getting a nice in-game demo session now.  Looks absolutely stunning.  Justin will show all of this in his video on YouTube.  This game looks simply incredible.  It’s cinematic as hell. We’re seeing a new gun with a radar directly attached to the gun . The demo has TONS of action in it, with explosions everywhere.  Lots of environmental interactions and a truly epic feeling.  When you guys see this, you’re going to be floored.  Snowmobile gameplay also looks equally awesome.  Firing a weapon while trying to traverse the harsh terrain is going to be awesome!  Two Modern Warfare Map Packs will be released first on Xbox Live.

Final Fantasy XIII – The director is here to talk about the game.  85 million Final Fantasy titles have been sold to date.  The first Xbox 360 trailer is being debuted right now!!!  The footage is from the Japanese demo, but now entirely in English!  It looks exactly the same as the PS3 version, which is great news!  This is the world premiere of the 360 version of the game.  The demo we’re seeing shows us four active battle slots, instead of the 3 from the demo I played.  Odin summon is being revealed here for the first time ever!  He looks AMAZING! Spring 2010 targeted release date.

From here on, EVERYTHING announced will be exclusive to the Xbox 360.

Shadow Complex – Epic Games is announcing a new Xbox Live Arcade.  It looks like an Xbox 360 game.  It’s a 2.5D shooter, sort of like Bionic Commando Rearmed.  You can use various weapons to create platforms to advance through stages.  It’s a ten hour campaign.  It’s a mix of Contra and Metroid, meets Bionic Commando Rearmed.  Very impressive and totally exclusive to the Xbox Live Arcade/Xbox 360.  Summer 2009 release date, and we’ll have hands-on with the game later this week.

Joy Ride – A new racing game with cartoonish graphics.  You can use your avatar.  Free download and free to play!  Talk about awesome!  It’s an avatar-specific game.  Coming this winter to Xbox Live.  Free is always good, right? ;)

Crackdown 2 – Trailer looks great.  FMV trailer, but still.  It’ll be on YouTube later this evening.  No release date given.

Left 4 Dead 2November 17th, 2009 Release Date!!! Talk about a surprise announcement.

Splinter Cell Conviction – New trailer looks great.  It’s also confirmed to be an Xbox 360 exclusive.  We are now watching the world exclusive E3 demo being played out.  The game is extremely detailed, as you’d imagine.  This time around Sam is really pissed off because someone has killed his daughter.  He’s holding a guy by the neck slamming him into the walls, etc.  It doesn’t look like there’s going to be a HUD, just like Modern Warfare 2.  The only small indicator on the screen is on the bottom left hand side.  Objectives will appear in the actual environment.  Very cool stuff.  This looks extremely impressive.  It appears the time the developer has spent on the game has been extremely worthwhile.  Fall 2009 exclusively on the 360.

Forza MotorSport 3 – October 2009 Release Date. Microsoft is calling it the definitive racing game of this generation.  Now you can actually spin out of control, flip upside down, and choose from 400 cars from 50 manufacturers with 60 fps gameplay.  You can also create new cars, via paint jobs and upload it on Xbox Live.  You have way more features than ever before.  You can create and upload HD video from your races.  Awesome, no?

Halo 3: ODST – Trailer is all in-game and looks awesome.  We’re now seeing an actual game session.  The game takes place several weeks before the events of Halo 3.  You play as a rookie ODST.  It has the look and feel of Halo 3, except in a whole new way.  The original Halo pistol is coming back, with a few improvements.  Classic!  With visor functions, you can easily pin-point new targets, objectives and find various goodies scattered around the environment. 09/22/09 Release Date.

Halo Reach – Fall 2010 Release Date. If you buy ODST, you’ll receive a multiplayer beta for Reach.  We’ll have to see what this is all about.  They aren’t saying anything.  Bungie is developing this game, and that’s all we know.  Oh and we can say it has multiplayer obviously.

Alan Wake – Finally a brand new trailer for the game.  Looks sick.  it has this distinct Silent Hill feel.  In-game looks drop-dead gorgeous.  We’re being treated to a game demo right now.  Again, this is unreal.  Lighting is incredible and looks like it’ll give Silent Hill a run for its money in terms of scare factor.  In order to kill a “creature” or whatever they are, you have to shine a light on them and wait for their weakness to be exposed.  After that you can take them out with a regular weapon such as a gun.  Spring 2010 Release Date. At least we know it exists!

Xbox Live update time.

Music is coming to Live via last.fm.  A new Xbox dashboard tab, Radio Stations will now appear.  It’ll launch later this year at no additional charge, worldwide for Gold members.

Netflix – Enhancements are coming to Netflix.  You can browse through genres, etc; you can do it right from the dashboard.  Press play, and the movie will begin.  No more need to go through the PC.

Sky will be coming to Europe, allowing TV stations right through the Xbox 360.

Zune Video – Fall 2009 – 1080p video for all videos.  Movies and TV shows will play instantly, stream-based service.  Video store will now be available in 18 countries around the world.   It’s called Instant On 1080p, and looks quite promising.

Music, movies and TV shows will be able to be shared via the Xbox 360 Party function.  I suppose they figured out how to get around the old copyright issues.

Facebook partnership with Microsoft. Felicia Day now coming up talk about all about Facebook.  She’s part of The Guild.  Facebook coming to the Dashboard, as you’d imagine.  You can scroll through the various Facebook goodies, like your Friends, Wall, etc.  You can even compare your 360 friends and your Facebook friends, so the two are linked.

Facebook Connect – You can post screenshots and videos directly from the game, starting with the latest Tiger Woods game.

Twitter – It works similar to the Facebook application, so now gamers can post tweets by simply selecting the app from the Dashboard.  It updates everything instantly.  Both Twitter and Facebook will hit this Fall.

Don Mattrick now taking the stage, he’s the Senior VP.  Motion Controls?  Let’s find out. NOPE, Kojima-san!!!!!  Metal Gear franchise will be hitting the Xbox 360!!!  MGS Rising will be developed for the Xbox 360.  Will it be exclusive?  Who knows, but we get the world premiere trailer!!!  The teaser didn’t show us anything, but who cares.  It’s going to be a completely different Metal Gear experience.  The subtitle for the game was Lightning Bolt Action, whatever that means.  We’ll try to find out later this week.

Here we go.  Motion Controls are coming to the Xbox 360.  Don says the controller is the big problem.  He says something better needs to come out.  Can we make YOU the controller, he asks?  Now we can!  It’s uses a small bar that actually allows 1:1  motion without any controllers whatsoever.  Currently the games appear somewhat simplistic in nature, and certainly aimed at the causal crowd.  So the rumors were indeed true, Microsoft is going for the casual crowd.  Tons of games appear to be in the works.

You can scan in new objects, it has facial recognition, video chatting and even Minority Report-type functions.  This seems far more impressive than we original thought.  If you want to watch a movie you can say “Play Movie” and the movie will start.  This is truly something impressive.  Project Natal is what the new camera/sensor is currently called.  Anyone of any age can play these games because there’s no controller required.  It will work with every Xbox 360 console already out there and everyone moving forward.

Steven Spielberg now on-stage to talk about the new project.  Very wicked to see him in person too.  This is turning into something really special here guys.  MS has had one hell of a killer showing.  He’s saying that the only way to bring gaming to everyone is to make the tech invisible.  Get rid of the controller.  Natal allows this.

Kudo Tsunoda – Creative director of the project.  They plan to show us a demo of the Dashboard.  It knows who you are via the facial recognition.  It even has 1:1 full body movement.  This is stunning.  It has Minority Report-type features, by simply flipping through the dashboard just moving your hand.  This is quite stunning.  We’re also seeing a game where you can move fully around in 3D space and the software easily follows you around.  This is hilarious, they even mentioned “waggle commands.”  Talk about great.  There really are unlimited options with this new technology.  The game we were shown involved balls flying into the screen and you had to hit them back.

They’re now showing off Paint Party, another game that uses this tech.  This is another quite impressive tech demo. Allows the user to simply move their arms around to paint on the canvas.  You really need to see how fluid this is to understand how impressive this is.  You can also make art via posing.  Every single gesture you make is recorded via the device.  Any object you bring in will be recorded by the camera.

Peter Molyneux now onstage to talk about Natal.  You know Peter from Fable fame.  He’s now talking about how Natal is going to change everything for game creators everywhere.  Peter is talking about a game character named Milo.  You can talk to Milo with unscripted voice!  You can ask, “How was your day?,” and Milo answers back “I’m doing really well, how about you?”  The character evolves and you can interact with it as if they were a real person.  We’ll have a video up shortly to showcase this amazing demonstration.  How YOU are actually part of the game world. If you look at the water, you see your real-life reflection and you can touch the water to interact with it.  We’ll be able to try it out this week!!!

Don’s back to close up shop.  Microsoft has come a long way, but now they have established themselves as the one company that has something for everyone.  The future looks very bright for the company.