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Making the grade: Microsoft's E3 presentation

Jared Rea

"So, who won E3?"

No matter the location or the format involved, everyone just wants to know who "won" this years E3 conference. Do you want to know who won? We all did. The closest thing to massive damage was Peter Moore's singing and even that was charming in its own unique way. The big three had a lot of great games to show off and quite frankly, it's going to be an incredible year.

"Unacceptable! Tell us which of our favorite major corporations won!"

So be it! Here we begin the first of our three part series, focusing on the E3 presentations of Sony, Nintendo and our first target, Microsoft. Jump in after the break as we cast the first stone of judgment!

The Games
Microsoft's choice to (for the most part) show only games that will see release this year brought forth a mixed reaction. On one hand, it was refreshing to see all the great titles that we'll be playing sooner than Duke Nukem Forever. On the other hand, we already knew about all this stuff! Still, their presentation was packed with high quality content. Kicking off the show with Rock Band was a great choice and from there, titles like Mass Effect, Lost Odyssey, Call of Duty 4 and of course, Halo 3, wowed the crowd. Far too many multiplatform titles for our tastes though.

Their Xbox Live Arcade showing was incredibly brief, though no less impressive. We caught our first glimpse of Bungie's Marathon: Durandal and Hexic 2's multiplayer looked fantastic. With games like Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix and Bomberman Live on the horizon, we would have liked them to take a bit more time with XBLA.

The Tone
The first step on the road to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Microsoft's is that the Wii has been outpacing the Xbox 360 since it launched and it's quickly gaining ground. Seeing this up on a chart, during a Microsoft conference, with little spin, was actually quite refreshing.

Peter Moore stood on point, constantly giving us reasons to believe that this is truly the greatest lineup in video game history. Personally, we'd agree to this with only a slight exception: that we lump both Nintendo and Sony into this party as well. Seriously, our wallets are howling in pain just thinking about the rest of 2007.

The Announcements
This is more or less where they floundered as every major announcement couldn't be seen without a negative slant. Their partnership with Disney, while an incredible gain for the Xbox Live Marketplace, is also Microsoft's way of squirming around the fact that Disney has signed on with Sony and their Blu-Ray disc format and still has no solid plans to commit to HD-DVD as well.

We're honestly stoked about Scene It! coming to the Xbox 360, but they should have gone a bit more in-depth as to how it'll work with a live demonstration. Waving the admittedly goofy controller about in the air and quickly moving on felt too much like a stab towards casual ground, while secretly being ashamed of it. As for the Halo 3 themed Xbox 360 ... from one nation of Halo fans to another ... that is one ugly baby.

The Presentation
If Microsoft's conference were a Wikipedia entry, the top would read, "This entry needs more live gameplay. You can help by adding more live gameplay." The Call of Duty 4 demo was fantastic, but where was the Halo 3 demo? It went over brilliantly at E3 2004 and to close the show with just a (fantastic) trailer felt a bit disappointing. Still, the nervous laughter of Jade Raymond during the Assassin's Creed demo is a telling story on why all titles shouldn't be involved in this process.

The Fluff
Jeff Bell, we hereby revoke your Ghetto Pass on one count of blackcent in the presence of a fellow brother (see: above). We don't recall you telling us to "holla atcha boy" when you showed us Scene It! and we don't think you fooled Reggie Bush either. You slept on the couch last night for your shameful defense ... so let's call your sentence a house arrest and keep it to 20 feet around the perimeter of the couch. This court is adjourned.

The Grade
This years E3 presentations will be graded using our brand-new, highly scientific, Mega Man Rating System, in which all three are given titles based upon their performance. Microsoft's final grade is ...

You're a bit rough around the edges but no one is going to hold
that against you! You've got some magnificent content and gosh
darn it ... people like you! Besides, it only gets better from here!

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