7:08: We've moved to a what is the equivalent of the third row inside of a horseshoe of couches. Still nothing but the Activision (and not Activision Blizzard) logo across all the monitors throughout the venue.
7:17: Five more minutes. The big names in press are filling up the horseshoe. In front of us, N'Gai Croal, Geoff Keighley, Dean Takahashi and Stephen Totilo. They look locked in conversation: we're pretty sure they're sharing good tilapia recipes and recent knitting accomplishments.
7:27: Griffith name drops Quantum of Solace and Wolfenstein, among others, and reminds us of the reception after the presentation. He uses the DS as a starting point to brag about Guitar Hero's success. More than 18 million song downloads touted.
7:28: "This is a transitional period, both for the gaming industry and for Activision." Juxtaposed against the overly-hyper Diaz, this guy seems very dry. Can we at least get a powerpoint to stare at?
7:30: "In the past years, we've nearly doubled the players of Call of Duty, quadrupled the number of Guitar Hero fans," and had a lot of Kung Fu Panda players. The the three tiers of Activision: soldiers, virtual rock and pandas.
7:33: X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen are discussed. No trailer for Wolverine (yet), and nothing of merit discussed. Griffith is talking about each of the film franchise's success. "We're confident that all the games I've discussed, and those I'm about to discuss ... will deliver new levels of entertainment and excitement around the world."
Talking about Call of Duty World at War, new trailer. "I've seen things that nothing can train you for." A montage of action sequences. Rifle smacks, flamethrowers, stabbings, men on fire, point-blank executions. The game looks intense, but again, it's another WWII shooter. They're going to have to do a lot more to pique our interests.
7:43: We move onto a new area. One of the players has a flamethrower and is torching the ground. Now they move into indoor scenery, which looks like they reused some of COD4's textures. Back to an outdoor skirmish. It's intense, but the trailer feel really jumpy. The game basically looks like COD4 in a new setting, and we mean that in the best of ways.
7:44: One more shot of the flamethrower (wow, they reuse that). Diaz retuns, all he wants is to earn some prestige points. (We get it, you know gamer vernacular, it still sounds awkward and very forced). Cue trailer for Spiderman: Web of Shadows.
7:48: Completely rebuilt combat system. Spider-man will be fighting through streets of Manhatten, swing kicking enemies onto the wall and fighting all the way up the walls ... "and then down again." Gameplay footage from a SHIELD evacuation point is being shown. We see a glimpse of venom fall of a building. Spider-man, in symbiote form, is taking on unrecognized foes all the way up the side of the building.
7:51: Two suits can be used. Red more agile, black/symbiote more about strength. Robust upgrade system. Who fights behind your side in the game depends on your action. Cue footage of air combat gameplay. Spider-man versus the Vulture and his enemies. "Aw, look at the adorable vultures' nest. Is this goblins r us? .... OH it's a cliche fight!" Yes, spider-man is still full of bad zingers. (Hey, we feel for the guy.)
7:56: "Most people don't know who we are" -- phew, our wikipedia skills can take a rest. Danjaq owns the global brand rights to Bond. Own EM productions in London. Danjaq runs licensing properties. That's great and all, but shouldn't we hear about the game from a developer? Or see even a screenshot?
8:01: A little background (and some more PR speak) first. "It's our job in this game to let gamers become this new bond, this new physical, more cunning, more dangerous bond." The game tells story of both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, and Garret thanks Danjaq for access to the movie. World exclusive: Daniel Craig is a gamer.
8:09: The sexy silhouette also acts as rechargeable health indicator, with the death shutter appearing only when health nears nil. End of footage ... and quickly into new trailer, which they finshed last night.
8:15: The clip is literally 5 second long. ultra-fast montage. Can't see much, but really, it doens't look as hot as id Tech 5-powered Rage. Diaz returns, "It's time to rock, to roll, to get your funk on, whatever." Diaz is no Jamie Kennedy, but he's trying. Cue quick Guitar Hero mini0trailer, then Brian from Neversoft (the guy holding the guitar earlier on the couch). He's still holding the guitar.
8:17: For GH: WT 85 master songs available on disc. Doors, Eagles, Van Halen, bands that wont be seen anywhere else. Hints that rock stars will be seen today. Virtually or in-real life? I guess we'll find out. Touts the Metallica DLC, for PS3 Xbox 360 and Wii. No applause .. aawwwwkward.
8:18: Onto instruments, but first, he says previous instruments will be compatible with guitar hero. Doesn't say Rock Band, though. Shows off new guitar's features. Star power button, dual start buttons for lefties and righties, the slider bar for tapping and wah effects. Velocity sensitive. We're guessing the tapping will go well with Van Halen songs. Will be seen at song that closes presentation.
8:20: Moves onto drums. "The most realistic drum experience." First was "elevating the cymbals." Symmetrical for lefties. Made it quiet and responsive with thick layer of silicon. Also has lots of bounch back. "Can hit 32nd notes with no problem" (assuming, of course, you're that good). Velocity sensitive pads. Another developer from the couch takes the stage to readjust it. Shows ports on the back.
8:22: Kick pedal port allows for Y-splitter and double bass pedals. Another port is for future expansions. A midi in port for plugging in ANY electronic drum kit or drum machine to play with Guitar Hero. Can also be used for song creation mode. We're really impressed right now. Test presentation of playing the drum pads as a midi controller. Looks like it just became that much easier to have a unified drum set for Rock Band and Guitar Hero.
8:23: Mic briefly shown. Diaz return to introduce drummer Travis Barker (of Blink 182 fame). He's worked with Neversoft from early on in the development. Is a character in the game. Diaz asks Barker if it's easier or harder to play real drums. Barker says it's really similar and talks about applying the virtual skills to real skills. Talks about global beat recording and sharing through song creation.
8:27: Brian Bright returns to discuss music studio (i.e. song creation mode). Shows off music studio menu, that allows anyone to jump in and out and choose any of the following: lead, rhythm, bass, drums, keyboard. Shows off line 6 modeling options: amps, effects, scale. Different button combinations that can 7 differnet notes. 1-4 people can record in real time.
8:30: Drum machine can be recorded with either the drum controller or the controller (used as input for a drum machine). Selects a loop type (each one is a bank of five loop), one of 20 drum kits. He picks the dub kit. Frets play the loop, tilt for volume, sliders for augmentation, and strum adjusts pitch. He looks really nerdy on stage, getting kind of funky and dancing while he makes the beat. Honestly, it's quite impressive.
8:32: Switches to keybooard. "Close to 80 different synthesizers sounds." Bright picks Osc hi. Frets play notes, whamy changes type, slide augments, and tilting changes octaves. We'll have to see when we get a hands on, but it looks easy enough to learn. Bright sounds good, although we might be smitten by the idea of playing a keytar.
8:34: The GHMIX menu looks robust, with a long column of tools and menus. This will not be for the casual gamer. Bright moves onto GHTunes. "Like YouTube meets Billboard" in guitar hero universe, in terms of Web 2.0 sharing and ranking. He can't show that, not connected to internet.
8:36: Rock Star creator menu. It looks like an expanded version of Rock Band's character creator (no surprise there), right down to the characters' style. He has what looks like a red-head female steven tyler. Very customizable guitar and drum editors. Lots of options that will obsess certain gamers (read: us) for longer than we'd ever admit to.
8:38: Talks about online multiplayer, including 4-on-4 battle of the bands. Nelson returns, talks about customizing himself. "That'll be a quick way to lose 10 to 15 right here." New special guest, female musician (and friend of guitar). Lead singer of Paramore Haylie Williams, who is also a playable character.
8:40: Talks about her obsession with Guitar Hero during the Warped Tour from way back when. "Seeing myself is the weirdest, creepiest, coolest experience ... it's exactly like me." Talks about doing mocap for the game. Diaz: "What do you want to see in terms of song choices?" Williams want to see new slipknot single. The four developers from the couch take the stage to prepare to play. Diaz thanks Williams. A round of applause.
8:41: One more surprise: the Neversoft band playing Hot for Teacher on GH WT. Band select screen looks like an upgraded Rock Band (which is itself an upgraded Guitar Hero). Long loading screen full of artificial cheers.
8:43: singer "you ready to rock!" the drums are very glossy and hard to read the off-beats compared to Rock Band (not digging that at all. Guitarist is tapping the intro. everyone cheers when he gets done with it.
8:45: Our eyes are adjusting to the shininess of the notes. There's a swirl in the durm part which seems to mean you can improvise without being penalized. Vocal lines leave a trail when you sing to give you a better relative sense on where you're going with your voice. We see the long kick pedal-like line meaning the bassist hits no notes. Each player has separate multiplayer gauge. Ends with a lot of notes, but no big jam breakout ending like in Rock Band.
8:48: loud applause from the crowd. Diaz asks everyone to stand up (we don't want to be rude but, hey, we gotta blog). Run DMC comes on as background music before Diaz thanks everyone -- technical glitch, they quickly fix it. Diaz concludes the press conference.
And that's it folks! Thanks for joining us in the liveblog, we'll have more pictures from the event shortly!
Sony PlayStation 3 (late 2012)
Microsoft Xbox 360