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E3: Microsoft Plays It Safe and Casual

The first hour of Microsoft’s press conference was earmarked
by teleprompter dependability and corporate predictability. Senior Vice
President Don Mattrick was visibly nervous when the event started, and quickly
handed over the reins to Todd Howard of Bethesda Software. Howard played through five minutes of Fallout 3, which unsurprisingly, looked like Oblivion with a
new post- apocalyptic texture set. Combat was an interesting mix of real time play,
interrupted with a tactical element where players could target individual body

Much like the Oblivion, the game offers players the ability
to play in first and third person.  The
user interface allowed a Bioshock-like set up for variable player upgrades, and Howard
mentioned that multiple methods of play were supported from combat oriented to
a more stealthy approach.

Next, Resident Evil 5 was shown, and a very brief co-op
level was demoed. To deflect accusations of racism, main character Chris
Renfield shot both Black and White zombies. Overall, the game looked like a
refinement of the RE4 engine.

Two sequels were shown next- as Fable 2 was introduced by
Peter Molyneux, and Cliff Bleszikski played through Gears of War 2. Both looked predictable, yet capable extensions of the game play introduced in their

For the next half hour of the show, Microsoft coasted,
showing little innovation and margin refinement. Their fall dashboard update
showed Wii-like Avatars, You’re in the Movies aped the action of Sony’s Eyetoy
minigames, while Lips was nearly indistinguishable from Sony’s Singstar. The
aptly named Viva Pinata: Trouble in ParadiseEye of Judgement showed -like
cards. British singer Duffy gave the conference one of the few moments of
spontaneity, as she sang an Amy Winehouse-like number. The singer was able to
answer a question for the ages- How well would a performer score, when singing
their own song in a karaoke game? The short answer: Very well, but not perfect.

The show did conclude on one, unexpected high note as Final
Fantasy XIII
was announced for the Xbox 360, we’re sure someone over at Sony is
losing a job over the loss of that franchise. Overall, Microsoft played it conservatively safe,
offering sequels to their popular franchises, while attempting to secure the
ever-growing ‘casual’ market. Time will tell, if this seemingly over cautious
strategy will be effective.

Also Shown:
Geometry Wars 2
South Park
Portal: Still Alive
Galaga Ledends
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
Guitar Hero: World Tour
Rock Band 2
Scene It: Box Office Smash

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. Awesome, nice girls

  2. What kind of swag?!?!

  3. Damn, i missed the live feed, but your comments are just as good.

  4. I thought they got rid of the booth babes.

  5. See anyone famous there guys, besides Duffy?

  6. I want to see a video of Fallout! Where can I find that???

  7. Nice review. Quick, too.

  8. More girls, less fallout!

  9. I am so jealous of you guys!

  10. Nice overview! MS is screwed.

  11. Whose Duffy?

  12. Only one pics of girlz? you can do better than that!

  13. I watched the conference, I though they said Urine: the Movies

  14. Where did M$ hire those Crack hoes?

    BTW keep the pics coming!

  15. Great review. Almost as good as being there. Without the swag, of course.

  16. First half was good, 2nd half…OMGWTF!?

  17. I thought it was kind of boring. Nothing really new announced except the new dashboard, portal 2, and the big one, final fantasy 13. That really made up for it.

  18. Avatars look pretty cool. I want to hear more about the South Park XBL game.

  19. Was it me or did anyone else think the Fallout 3 gameplay was a bit, disappointing, dare I say?

  20. LOL @ kackle’s comment.

  21. The avatars, Lips, and You’re In The Movies was a slap in the face to innovation.

  22. Yes, that was shown for all of 5 seconds.

  23. Don Mattrick did look nervous. Who used a teleprompter?

  24. Who major goofs that we didn’t see via the really bad G4 connection?

  25. Only surprise was FFXIII; good job keeping that a secret Microsoft.

  26. OMG, Mummy Returns on hidef download. Thankyousomuch Microsoft 🙁

  27. I said, “We waited over two years for this?” it looked just like Oblivion, and seemed a bit laggy.

    I just the feeling, the game was a bit emtpy. Enemies weren’t interesting.

    The nuke was cool, though.

  28. Fallout 3 sounds awesome, it’s definitely a game I’ve been looking forward to hearing about. I’m glad the went over the games that are highly anticipated, but I’m disappointed that that’s all they really had a show for. I thought they would show us some Xbox 360 exclusive devices, or anything that could be considered, “Innovative.” In any case, I’m looking forward to watching the show.

  29. Watch out peeps, people are stealing your pics. (Cough, Destructoid, cough)

  30. it’s like joystiq’s overview, but without the useless stuff about seat saving, and bathroom breaks.

  31. i think overall microsoft did good, never saw final fantasy coming…nice site, hope i win the e3 loot!!!

  32. Excellent overview. I want to hear about Sony and Nintendo, too

  33. Great job, guys.

  34. Yep. I’m excited to see that FFXIII was unveiled. Can’t wait for Gears 2!

  35. I don’t care about FFXIII and GoW2; I do care about Geometry Wars 2, though.

  36. Are those Shane Kim’s bee-otches?

  37. Desert Eagle,
    Keep up the goood work! U R my eyes and ears on all the lastest gaming info.
    Keep informing consumers like me with the “inside” word on reviews, releases, etc.

  38. GoW 2 is going to be amazing….

  39. Can’t we have equal amounts of both?

  40. I guess you don’t allow HTML. Here’s a link to the video:

  41. Bah, now I really need to get a 360 for FF13…

  42. as soon as the square enix pres came back i knew ff13 was comin

  43. I wish my ps3 had geometry wars 🙁

  44. Those girls are pretty hot, you lucky sod.

  45. Great Article.. But not much info.

  46. Much better than those other site where the authors drone on and on about themselves. Kohler and Grant, I’m talking about you!

  47. Definitely liking the girls as usual. I think the most anticipated still will be GoW2…no questions.

  48. Fable 2 is my most wanted game. Loved Loved the first game.

    The music is awesome too.

  49. A bit too tame for my taste, to be honest. Microsoft should be willing to take more big risks and innovate, rather than just stick with safe franchises and play catchup to other systems.

  50. I think MS did a good job this year. I enjoyed their press conference most.

  51. Yeah, they played it way too safe. I watched the Press conference and couldn’t make it though more than 17 minutes.

  52. I hope the 360 version of FF13, doesnt water down the PS3 version D: . But, Squeenix knows what they’re doing.

  53. Psyched about fallout 3, portal, GoW2, BanjoKazooie, Fable 2, and, of course, FFXIII. I really liked the avatars and the netflix announcement as well. Best conference of the big 3.

  54. FF13 ftw, great job microsoft

  55. im very excited for rock band 2, scene it 2, lips, and netflix!!!

  56. Wait a second how did a white zombie get into Africa?… I’m saying that’s racist right there.

  57. FF13 is a huge step to sony’s slow downfall its about time to see microsoft take over

  58. Galaga Legends?
    An Xbox Live game, perhaps? I’d like to see an update a la the recent Space Invaders update (was that on PSP?).

  59. Xbox stole the show with FFXIII and those beezys

  60. Microsoft definitely played it safe this E3, but after watching Sony and Nintendo’s Press Briefings it looks like everyone did. As a 360 owner I’m super excited for the new Dashboard as well as being able to stream my Netflix Instant Queue through my TV. Not to mention the massive amounts of blockbuster games coming out: Fable 2, Gears of War 2, Fallout 3, etc. All in all it was a tame, but good E3 that focused on this year without distracting gamers with all the hotness coming out next year.

  61. I’m not sure MS is going more casual but the interface has become more gaming oriented and less software oriented.

  62. I dont know if I like the new interface just yet. It seems to streamlined.

  63. I hope they give us an option on which dashboard to use, I don’t want the new one!

  64. I’m pretty excited about the Netflix integration – it might even make me restart my subscription.

  65. A mix of lackluster titles and behemoths. 2009 will be exciting, for sure!

  66. FFXIII really shocked me. No 4 player coops for Gears 2 announcement was a bummer. Hoarde coops looks pretty sweet though.

  67. Yay for fallout 3 and FF13

  68. final fantasy xiii doesnt count as casual and safe. it sounds awesome

  69. I loved Orange Box.

    Can’t wait to play the new Portal.

  70. Netflix has me psyched, FF XIII has me depressed. Losing Final Fantasy exclusivity really is a blow to Sony, and makes me lose even more faith in my giant black box from Sony. Meh, at least it plays Blu-Rays…

  71. I don’t like where Microsoft is heading. They are beginning to focus more and more on the casual market. If someone wanted casual games, they would have bought a Wii, not a 360. Don Matrick was pretty bland as well, I want Peter Moore back.
    I enjoyed reading all of your posts on E3, I guess its th enext best thing to actually being at E3. I loved all of the content that Microsoft showed off, but the avatars are a huge Mii ripoff.

  72. I’m totally excited for Final Fantasy. It’s about time!

  73. YES! I love portal(s)!

  74. Definitely a huge bomb with FFXIII. Most excited about Netflix though.

  75. final fantasy 13 for the 360?! I’m ecstatic!

  76. Huge news on FF13. Even if it ends up on multiple disks, the new loading games onto the hard drive feature will take care of that.

  77. new Portal!! Can’t Wait! 😀

  78. Sony is going to lose this generation simply because they refuse to pay for exclusivity. Their first-party stuff isn’t so hot, and certainly can’t carry a system, and their not going to get them for free like last gen being as they not only are not the leader, but they’re in 3rd and not even clost to MS or that other company… Good thing it’s a blu ray player. Don’t see much gaming happening on it especially since GT5 is now looking at 2010… Maybe…

  79. i agree about netflix… that’s a great idea to bring over the casual crowd.

  80. Microsoft has a great lineup, but the Mii thing is a terrible direction for the company to take.

  81. Was a good showing except the new Dashboard. Don’t fix what isn’t broke.

  82. Its sluggish for me. I remeber when I first got my 360 changing blades was fast. To many ads I guess.

  83. I’m extremely pleased with the lineup of games coming out this fall and to get FFXIII has me stoked. Don’t know how the avatars will work, but the 1 vs 100 looked neat.

  84. I wonder how much money Microsoft had to drop into Square Enix’s lap in order to secure a release deal for FFXIII…

    Obviously not enough to secure a release in Japan alongside the US release, but I’m sure it was still a decent chunk of change.

  85. Fallout 3, GOW2, RE5, and Fable 2 are my main games i’m interested in!

  86. I want my fallout.

  87. I can’t wait for FFXIII, I never thought it would actually hit the 360. Fallout 3 looks awesome, as does GOW2 and Fable 2. Seems like there will be no shortage of good games to buy for 360 owners.

  88. I wish that Microsoft had shown more 2009 games. They did the exact same thing that they did last year which had me disapointed. While I was happy about the FFXIII announcement I will not be purchasing the game.

  89. Im actually most excited for the dashboard I’m one of those who actually like the change. Oh and the primetime I think is going to be huge. 1 VS 100 BABYYYYYYYYYY

  90. Mattrick is a fucking tool.

    Bring back J!

  91. I am really excited about Geometry Wars 2!!

  92. This next debate will be: Which version of FFXIII is superior 🙂

  93. Fallout 3 looks awesome!!!