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Microsoft Press Conference - lifestyle, games and friends

Posted BY: Dr. Worm, Wednesday, May 10, 2006, 12:52AM EST

This year is the first time I’ve been able to attend a pre-E3 press event. After spending the last E3 in the E3Insider room, the Microsoft Press Conference was an exciting way to start the week.

The show started with a hard hitting action sequence from Gears of War. I’ve seen footage of this game many times before but somehow this time it seemed a little more polished. Judging by the sequence and the preceding demo given by Cliffy B, Gears of War will be as intense as Call of Duty 2 was last year – it looks like another awesome game that is best played in half hour increments.

Peter Moore was the next to take the stage and filled us in on Microsoft’s latest. It looks like there will be a lot of great Live Arcade content coming to us soon – Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat 3, Street Fighter II, Frogger, Galaga, Contra and much, much more. Namco, Konami, Sega, and Midway are all contributing some of their classic arcade hits as well as over 100 independent developers. But the first unexpected, "wow cool" moments for me was when Moore announced Lumines Live! Lumines is by far the coolest game for the PSP and I’m very excited to see it coming to Live. It looks like it has been beefed up for the new platform.

On the hardware side of things, everyone knew that Microsoft would show their HD DVD player add-on. What I was pleasantly surprised by was the XBOX 360 Wireless Racing Wheel with force feedback. Finally, all of the racing fans out there will have a great wheel to go with the racing genre's best platform. I hope this isn’t one of those stories that nobody notices. This is a big deal! I was also impressed with the XBOX Live Vision Camera which seems very promising.

Bill Gates made an appearance along with Scott Henson, director of platform strategy, in order to introduce Live Everywhere – bringing the Xbox Live experience to mobile phones and Windows Vista. Live Everywhere is interesting enough to warrant its own article but for now, imagine the possibilities of playing a multi-player shooter on a PC against a buddy on the 360 or having your XBOX Live Arcade library available on your mobile phone. There are all kinds of interesting possibilities and Scott hinted that some of these features may be available sooner than you'd think. Microsoft is trying hard to create an integrated community experience with their software in the center.

Of course the games are as exciting as any other announcement. Developers have had some time with the XBOX 360 and I expect we will see a wave of even better games. The games that stood out most in my mind were Fable 2 -- which looked surprisingly spooky, Forza Motorsport 2 -- Viva Pinata, Gears of War, and of course Halo 3.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the event was when Moore rolled up his sleeve to show the Halo 2 tattoo on one arm and then surprised everyone to reveal a Grand Theft Auto IV tattoo on the other (although it looked fake to me). Grand Theft Auto IV is coming October 16, 2007 to the 360 and will have episodic content available exclusively through XBOX Live.

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