E3 2005: Microsoft's Pre-Show Conference

Microsoft started with another woman coming down an aisle with the console, briefly followed by a video montage of system features and games. Jay Allard, Robbie Bach, and Peter Moore discuss how they plan to redefine the gaming industry. It's obvious they have plans on every home containing a console, regardless of the age. They discussed the success of the original console, and Xbox Live, which will soon break the two million-subscriber mark. They move on to the new titles for the standard Xbox, pledging full support for the old hardware. Some of the games showcased here are:

Burnout Revenge
Half-Life 2
Conker: Live and Reloaded
Destroy All Humans
Tomb Raider

They come back and say there will be double the Xbox Live games in 2006. Xbox 360 will backwards compatible, but only with the top selling Xbox games. No specific titles were mentioned. There will be a three country launch this Christmas, in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. They move along to extended Dead or Alive 4 footage, officially a 360 launch title. There will be 25-40 titles this year alone. Jay Allard explains how the industry has lost the family dynamic the industry started with. He begins pushing the HD era and how they plan to reach one billion people.

He then shows the wireless controller, and claims it is lighter than the current generations. He then begins to play Kameo. He explains the idea behind the Gamer Card, an online profile, and how you can match up with other players. You can now earn trophies known as achievements. Voice, video, and text mail are all readily available with the push of a button. It tracks whom you have played against. This is all a free service out of the box, known as Silver, while the Gold package will be a premium. None of that packages features were discussed. More casual game experiences (like Solitaire and classic games) will be available via the Xbox Live Arcade. Downloadable game demos and features just like will be available through the Xbox Live marketplace.

More features are discussed, including video chat and an online music service. It can connect to other items like the I-Pod and digital cameras, including the competition's products. It also features a Progressive scan DVD player without a separate remote. This all connects to a media center PC and they showcase aTerminator 2 film clip, music, and an NFL game, all while browsing with the console, all while connected to Live in Hi-Def.

Customization is pushed as you can change everything, from your wallpaper to faceplates. Peter Moore speaks next. Finally, someone goes into the games. Lost Odyssey is shown first, from the original Final Fantasy creator, and music by Nobuo Uetmasu. There is little, if any, actual game footage. They will be minimum requirement of 720p, and every game is designed for a widescreen TV. Anti-aliasing will be a thing of past according to Moore. Dolby 5.1 is another minimum of every game, but he fails to say what other formats it will support.

Project Gotham 3 is discussed next, including the spectator mode in which players can watch the races to scout opponents. After some brief footage, Moore explains the million-dollar prize for a tournament, sponsored by a car manufacturer and millions of spectators. They're pushing that future. A video montage follows:

Ghost Recon 3
Call of Duty 2
Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
Gears of War

Don Matrick, president of EA Studios, is introduced next. Robert Gellery of the Oakland Raiders is brought. Allard promises Gellery a 360 upon launch if he gets his team on the Super Bowl path. EA is making their biggest development commitment ever on a new console. There are 25 EA titles currently in development. Six of these titles will be available at launch:

Need For Speed Most Wanted
NBA Live
Tiger Woods
Madden 06

Yet another montage follows from those six titles, along with an extended look at actual gameplay from Need for Speed.

The announcement of Square-Enix being a third party publisher for Microsoft is told via video of Final Fantasy XI. Square's president, Youichi Wada, is introduced. He says you will be able to share the experience with PC users. A brief video shows off power of the console, inside a massive glass and metal structure on the water. This is not from an actual game, just a render to show what the system is capable of. Allard closes by reiterating their focus, the mainstream and new gamer. The show ends with recap video montage.

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