Microsoft E3 Conference Finished
Microsoft has delivered its E3 keynote address and what a speech we saw.
Project Natal, the motion-sensing camera, was unveiled, as was the next Metal Gear Solid game, which will also be on Xbox 360. This one won't star Solid Snake, either - but the metal-jawed chap Raiden.
Microsoft also demonstrated Alan Wake, Final Fantasy XIII and Splinter Cell: Conviction on-stage, plus announced Twitter, Facebook and an ambitious new video service for Xbox 360.
And Forza 3. And Crackdown 2. And much more.
Read on for our full, blow-by-blow account of the entire Microsoft E3 conference.
Our live coverage has now ended. Here's what you missed: Updating...
Hello! Ellie's taking her seat at the conference now. We'll begin shortly!
We're in! We're in the second row from the front in fact, sat next to Mark Rein. "How did you get such a good seat?" he asks.
"I'm quite a big deal," I say. "I know," says Mark Rein. "I knew you were a big deal before you did."
The stage is set. There are four raised circular platforms, lots of circles and some loud guitar music. The lighting scheme, unsurprisingly, is green.
I've asked Mark Rein if he's going to announce Gears of War 4 today, or just 3. "Haha, funny," he says.
BUT! "We are going to announce a completely new game," says Rein. "It's true. We are." [Told you so! - Ed]
It's started! With a The Beatles: Rock Band trailer. Nice cartoony animations of The Beatles running from fans while "A Hard Day's Night" plays.
Mark Rein "can't wait" for The Beatles: Rock Band, Mark Rein fans. "Paperback Writer" now. The animations are cel-shaded and very cool, but is this game footage?
Trailer finishes with "I am the Walrus" and lots of clapping. "Please welcome Alex Rigopolous" plus some other bloke whose name I didn't catch.
Turns out the video we just saw was the in-game opening cut-scene. Which bodes well. Now some guys are on stage with instruments - could it be the Fab Four?
It's the Harmonix houseband. Oh. On the big screen we can see what looks like a Guitar Hero game, but with The Beatles appearing as the avatars in the background, It's quite stylised and cartoony but they're great likenesses. The Harmonix chaps are properly getting into it.
They're doing "Day Tripper". Notes scroll down the screen just like in Rock Band. Words like BASS GROOVE and UNISON BONUS flash up from time to time.
The lip-synching isn't bad. It's not brilliant, obviously, but it's still only 2009 after all.
The "infamous Giles Martin" is now on stage. "The game brings music history to life by featuring never heard before studio chat" from The Beatles.
It's the first official trailer for the game. The Beatles are playing in the Cavern, "I Saw Her Standing There". Now they're on TV - "I Want to Hold Your Hand".
"I Feel Fine" now. They're in the military jacket phase. "Day Tripper" again. "Taxman". All these are accompanied by in-game footage - more Rock Band-style stuff.
"Octopus's Garden", complete with trippy graphics. "Here Comes the Sun" and "Get Back" - now they're in full long hair and beards mode.
Full albums to download after launch starting with Abbey Road. "All You Need Is Love" available exclusively through Xbox Live, and all proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders.
It's Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison on stage.
Paul and Ringo are on stage! The real ones! No sign of Heather.
"The game is great, the graphics are great, we were great," says Ringo.
Schappert's on stage. "You're not going to see charts and graphs," he says. Mark Rein does a big whoop and the whole audience laughs. Instead we're going to see 10 brand new games never seen before.
It's Tony Hawk! He's holding a plastic skateboard! It's the final board design, unveiled for the first time. "As you can see it looks similar to a skateboard."
This is no ordinary skateboard, though. It's got accelerometers! Tony Hawk is "really excited" and reckons "the design is really intuitive". [It's not that new, either: http://www.eurogamer.net/game/tony-hawk-ride-xbox360 - Ed]
Now we're going to see some riders checking out Ride on the big screen, Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins, for example, and Paul Rodriguez. "It's great if you want to try out skating but don't want to put yourself in the position of being injured," says Paul.
There's lots of game footage on the screen. Looks like trails of neon light follow you when you do jumps. Again, the visuals look quite cartoony.
Tony's off, presumably to hang out backstage with Ringo and Paul as they glare meaningfully at Yoko.
It's a trailer for Infinity Ward. Urban setting. A plane speeding down a runway. Helicopters zooming towards mountains. A man shoots soldiers with a gun. Operatives race across rooftops. Looks like there are urban, tropical and snow locations. [It's Modern Warfare 2 and the trailer we've already seen - Ed]
Huge explosions over what looks like a military base, and it's over. Modern Warfare 2 - 10th November, remember.
Now we're seeing the game in action. A man is crouched in a snowy mountain landscape. A plane flies overhead and he tells us to follow him as he edges round a perilous ledge. Now he's hacking into the ice and climbing up. There's an amazing level of detail to everything.
Now we're following him up the mountain. We can see our character's arms hacking into the ice with picks and pulling up.
We're skipping ahead now. Looks like a machine gun with a radar attached to the side. It's snowing again, but this time we're in a military base; jeeps and soldiers everywhere. Looks like a bit of stealth is required as our character hides behind crates, strangles enemies from behind and so on.
More creeping across the snow landscape, this time towards a fuelling station. "Things do not go as planned," reads a caption on-screen.
Looks like we're blasting our way out of the base, via the airfield. Our character blows up a plane and takes down several soldiers, then a truck.
Now we're following the original guy down a snow hill and turning back to shoot at following soldiers on the ridge. They're zooming down on snowmobiles now instead - lots more shooting and now we're jumping on a snowmobile and zooming down the mountain, shooting enemies as we go. Wicked.
And it's over. "Infinity Ward has once again outdone themselves," says John Schappert. "That was insanely good," says Mark Rein in my ear.
It's the director of Final Fantasy XIII and the producer. They ain't afraid of no swine flu, then. There's a translator too, thankfully. [It's Yoshinori Kitase and Motomu Toriyama - Ed]
It's the first footage of FFXIII on 360. A man with a big afro is jumping off a spaceship. A little yellow birdie pops up. A woman with spiky hair and a big sword says, "Heads up!" as a big arachnid-style spaceship lands on the platform they're on. It's the two heroes fighting a giant mechabot, apparently.
"One major difference is we now have four active time gauges". That means more powerful spells. Looks like familiar old turn-based battling. "Let's end the battle with a special attack." They're fighting a character called Odin, a tall dude with a big helmet. "Normally you can't summon this early in the game."
"We are targeting a spring 2010 release" for FFXIII on Xbox 360.
Schappert's back. He says everything we're about to see will be available "only on Xbox 360." To kick off, he's welcoming Cliffy B and another chap from Epic.
Mark Rein just told me the game is called Shadow Complex.
It's an Xbox Live Arcade title. It's all about "exploration punctuated by moments of combat". You play as a man called Jason Fleming.
There's footage on-screen now. Looks like a huge game map. The lighting and detail is surprisingly good for an XBLA game. Ooh, lovely waterfall.
There's a woodland scene now with our hero firing big guns at mechanical enemies. Now he's dropped into a cavern and is blowing up a huge robot spider.
Schappert's up and he's unveiling Joy Ride from Big Park Games. It's an Avatar racing game. It's out this winter. Free to download. You can share tracks with friends.
Another trailer now - we've skipped to New Orleans, looks like. Jet planes zoom over the abandoned city. Zombies are scurrying about.
Hordes of zombies now, and a group of normal people fending them off with axes and chainsaws anf frying pans. Yes, Left for Dead 2 - coming 17th November.
We had a technical hiccup and missed Crackdown 2 in there. It's exclusive to Xbox 360. There's some sort of virus and we're the cure.
Splinter Cell: Conviction now. Sam is up to his old tricks, slamming people into the piano, hiding behind pillars and attacking people from behind. Looks like he's in Washington.
"Who said anything about hiding," says Sam. He's angry and unshaven. "What happens next is up to you." Mazime Beland and Alexandre Parizeau from Ubisoft take to the stage. "Spinter Cell: Conviction has changed quite a bit."
Time for a demo of the game. Sam is strangling a chap in a men's urinal. "Sam has changed, and this time he's on a personal mission." Gosh.
He's smashing the guy's head into sinks, mirrors, and holding him by the throat. "Driven by his emotions, Sam is now the ultimate predator." He has new Mark and Execute abilities.
"The darkness is where Sam really shines." He's shooting people in the head and they have no idea where he is. He's sneaking around a large mansion in the dark. Objectives flash up as part of the background. "Get Sarah's Killer" looked like wallpaper along a corridor.
Sam's giving up the whole stealth thing now to go charging through the front door. The perspective switches to first-person as he looks through the letterbox.
Now he's kicking seven shades of business out of a bunch of men before leaping out the window and shimmying along the ledge. He jumps into another room.
He's strangling someone. "Why did you have to kill Sarah?" But helicopters are surrounding the building. "Let's bring him home," says a woman's voice.
Splinter Cell: Conviction is out this "fall", exclusively on Xbox 360.
Forza Motorsport 3 is out this October.
A very brief trailer of some cars zooming round a track. Now a screen on the stage rolls back to reveal a big shiny red sports car and Dan Greenwald.
"Forza Motorsport is inspired by all things cars," says Dan. "It's this love of cars that drove my team to create the definitive racing game of this generation."
It's gone away from the race track. Runs at 60 FPS and "is the best looking racing game on any console". It's got rewind like in GRID; player-created content.
There's a short film about car customisation now, featuring real people who like colouring-in Forza cars. It's the future, you know.
We'll be able to create and upload high-def video.
There's a video on-screen now of what people can create in their own videos. Cars racing around a city, skidding, crashing, have a good old romp.
Aha, "raising the bar" - 10 points in E3 conference bingo. "It's the definitive racing game and it ships this October."
Halo 3: ODST now. Creative director Joe Staten is on the stage. In-game footage, looks like; our character seems to be piloting a craft as it heads down through clouds. Missiles are raining down around us. There's a huge electro explosion and a missile bursts into the craft.
"Welcome to the city of New Mombasa, weeks before the start of Halo 3." It's dark, with lots of blinking lights hissing steam vents everywhere.
[Valve just press-release Left 4 Dead 2 and said it's on PC too - also on 17th November - Ed]
You get a low-light vision mode, which appears to be useful for targeting and blowing up enemies. "Any fans of the old Halo 1 pistol out there? You're going to love this one." Looks handy for headshots. Cut to our character picking up a bit of scrap metal off the floor and gazing at a huge burning object in the distance.
Now we're going to the Oni Alpha site, two hours after the drop. "Come on tough guy, we've got to blow this bridge."
Our hero races up a ladder to a higher platform, from which we can see enemies trying to cross the bridge. There's another big explosion and it's over.
Brand new co-op online mode - Firefight. ODST is coming on 22nd September.
But Bungie has been working on another top secret project, "And we're going to show you what they've been up to."
A long shot of a planet spinning through space. "There's no mistake, it's them," says a voice over a radio. Explosions on the planet's surface and as the camera pans away we see the other side is a mess of burning land. "Hal Reach" appears on the screen. Fin.
Halo Reach "falls 2010" - does that mean autumn? When you buy ODST you'll get an invite to the Reach multiplayer beta.
Now we're saying hello to Sam Lake, who's here to introduce us to a best-selling writer. They've been working on a project for a long time. It's Alan Wake.
In a voiceover, Alan explains his wife is missing. The camera pans over a sunrise over a forest, then sweeps round a mountain.
Now we're in the game. "I'd come here to meet Rusty. He knew about the manuscript, but I was too late."
Alan is creeping round an abandoned building in the woods. He's got a flashlight attached to his gun, which is handy as it's very dingy.
Alan is wearing a hooded top under a suit jacket and jeans. Inspired by J Allard?
Now Alan is racing through the forest. Trees are falling in the distance for no apparent reason.
There's strange whispering as the sky darkens even further. A burst of strings and a strange humanoid shape bursts out of the darkness.
There are more shapes now. They seem to come from nowhere and blur as they move. Alan shoots them all in the face.
Now Alan's activating a generator to shed some light on the situation, before pulling a switch to make some kind of cable car work.
He's cruising over the mountain now, but the car stops moving as strange black shapes zoom across the sky.
Now Alan's holding a flare, lighting everything around him with a strange red light. The blurry enemies seem frightened of it and creep away.
Alan takes cover in a building but a bulldozer appears from nowhere and starts racing towards him, headlines on. "TO BE CONTINUED." Spring 2010.
Back to Schappert. He's going to talk about Xbox Live now. Is it time for the funny new camera?
Exclusive partnership with Last.fm. "Instant access to millions of songs." Available around the world later this year for "no additional charge".
Now we're onto Netflix. "Netflix has been a huge hit with our US members." Yes, John. What about us? You'll be able to watch stuff instantly. IF YOU'RE AMERICAN.
Now he's talking about the Sky deal for the UK announced last week. "This is a watershed moment for our industry." We knew before, John.
He's on about the video store now. We've heard you say "I can get a picture on my disc" and "it's not available in my country".
They're relaunching the video service as Zune Video this fall. Full 1080p videos, first of all. Second: all movies and TV shows can be enjoyed instantly - no downloads, no delays. Third: They're more than doubling the number of countries the Store is in, from eight to 18.
It will relaunch this fall.
You'll be able to enjoy music, TV and movies with your friends via LIve Party. We've seen this already as part of the Sky deal - you'll be in a virtual sports stadium or cinema with your friends' Avatars.
Oh! A partnership with Facebook! How contemporary. To show us how it works it's Felicia Day, creator of The Guild. I am bit gay for her.
Felicia has been a gamer for years, she says, and social networking has taken over her life.
Once again, it's familiar menu with options such as Home, Friends, Profile, Photos - just like on internet Facebook.
She's showing off the Friend Licker. Sorry, Linker. You can see your friends from Facebook on the PC and Facebook on the 360 in one place.
You can also view photos and see status updates via your Xbox 360. It's "really exciting and super convenient," says Felicia.
There's something else called Facebook Connect coming - you can post screenshots and texts to your profile in real-time, starting with Tiger Woods PGA Tour [10, we guess - Ed].
In addition to Facebook, Xbox Live is bringing you Twitter. Even more contemporary! Felicia's Avatar is shown on a lovely sky blue page next to a load of Twitter updates. "Tweeting on Xbox is really simple."
Twitter and Facebook are coming to Xbox Live this fall. Bye bye Felicia, nice shoes.
Hello, John Schappert. He's telling us about all the marvellous things we've seen - "But we're not done yet." Here comes Don Mattrick!
"John, this morning's announcements were truly historic... But we're missing one crucial piece of the puzzle!" Hideo Kojima creeps up behind him and taps him on the shoulder.
"It's my honour to introduce the creator of Metal Guild [sic] Solid." Oops!
Hideo: "It is my pleasure to announce I'm bringing the Metal Gear Solid franchise to Xbox 360." What about Metal Guild?
It will be called Metal Gear Solid Rising, says Kojima. Mattrick is "honoured" and "Can't wait" to see what the future holds for Solid Snake.
"But Don, I didn't say anything about Solid Snake!" Footage now of clouds, a weird metal monster, a single amber eye gazing out from underneath white fringe... "Raiden is back." And so is Kojima: "It is a completely new Metal Gear experience, and you can look forward to many great things."
"We can finally say our platform is complete," says Mattrick. From Paul McCartney to Hideo Kojima... Who would you rather have dinner with?
Hideo's off and it's just Mattrick now. "People ask me, can you add a motion controller? I say, of course we can." But the controller is a barrier, says Mattrick. So they asked new questions - "Can we go beyond a controller? Can we make you the controller? We can." YES WE CAN, DON.
On screen we see a big telly with a tiny camera underneath. A teenage boy walks into the room. An avatar challenges him to a fight. Now a family are driving a car just by leaning left and right on a sofa and holding invisible steering wheels.
Now the Dad is shooting an invisible machine gun. Then the son starts punching a giant monster as it smashes up skyscrapers. Or is he being the monster.
The Mum and daughter are kicking imaginary footballs. Now the teenage boy scans his real-life skateboard. It appears on screen and he starts doing jumps in his lounge, on his invisible skateboard. Or something. The teenage girl is talking to one of her friends.
They are showing each other possible outfits for the party and trying them on virtually. Back to the whole family now, who are pressing imaginary buzzers during a quiz show. Voice recognition knows which person is answering.
Looks like you can use voice control to pick and play movies, too. "Goodnight," says a lady, and the movie ends. Gosh.
It's codenamed "project Natal", apparently. "The only experience you need is life experience," is the tagline. "This is controller-free games and entertainment."
Natal will work with every Xbox 360 they've sold. "We can leap into a new era without having to launch a new console," says Mattrick.
Steven bloody Spielberg is here! That beats Paul and Hideo put together!
He's looking well. Perhaps he's going to apologise for The Crystal Skull at last?
"The vast majority of people are too intimidated to pick up a controller," says Steve. "60 per cent of households do still not own a games console."
So, says Steve, you have to make the technology invisible - and make it recognise not just your thumbs but your "entire being".
When shown Natal, Steve felt he was in "a historic moment" - just like when the movie screen went from square to widescreen and then to Imax.
"It's not about reinventing the wheel, it's about no wheel at all," says Steve, before congratulating Don. Perhaps later Don will go back to his house for a cocktail made of gold.
Turns out Project Nadal is the work of Kudo Tsunodo, that bloke who always wears the big glasses and the big chains and the rap clothes even though he's white.
Hello, Kudo! "You have control over your Avatar in the most natural way imaginable." First he's going to show us a demo of the Dashboard.
The Xbox now instantly recognises your face and signs you in automatically. When you move in real-life your avatar instantly mimics you on-screen.
You can choose between categories on the dash just by waving your hand, and wave left and right to scroll through.
Time for a tech demo fo something called Ricochet. "This is in Unreal Engine 3," says Mark. "I'm so proud!"
An Avatar is in a gym, kicking balls and whacking them against moving blocks with her hands. You will get "true physical play", says Kudo.
"This isn't a game where you end up sitting on the sofa doing some pre-set waggle dance," says Kudo. Take THAT, Nintendo!
The demo is over and Kudo is going to show us something called Paint Party. Also in Unreal Engine 3. An African elephant is on a big canvas.
An Avatar is throwing white paint at a canvas to make clouds on a blue sky. Now he's throwing darker blue paint for mountains, and brown for earth. Doesn't really look like earth, to be honest, looks more like... Never mind.
Now he's throwing on green paint for grass, and using brown to create a tree trunk in the foreground. He's like a next-gen Rolf Harris. He shows off the stencil feature, where you can use your body to make "any crazy pose you want".
Demo over. Peter Molyneux's coming on stage to show us how it's really done.
"That thing in our hands that has evolved and got more complex" has become "a barrier", he says. Natal will "change the landscape of the games we play". Lionhead has been playing around with it for a while.
In a video, Molynoire introduces us to Milo, a boy who can recognise and interact with us. A virtual boy, obviously.
A girl called Claire is chatting to him. She can tell he's worried about something, says Molynoire. "This is about you meeting a character, a person."
Milo is wandering round a lake along a rocky path. He and Claire chat about going fishing. He throws her some goggles and she puts on some invisible ones.
Milo invites Claire to peer over the edge and down in the water. Her real-life reflection appears in the water. Now that's cool.
She can swish the water with her hand and touch fish, with her real-world movements recognised on-screen. Gosh.
Claire draws a fish on a piece of paper and holds it up to Milo. Natal scans it in and Milo is able to see it. "This is true technology science fiction has not even written about, and this works, now, today," says Molynoire.
The film ends, and real-life Molynoire is back. "We're showing this behind closed doors, at E3, to a selected audience, and they'll be able to meet Milo himself."
Molynoire's off, Don's on. "Now, Xbox 360 is home to every hit franchise."
"The best controller ever invented," says Mattrick, presumably referring to Natal and not the Wiimote.
And it's over. What would you give that conference out of 10? Mark Rein says, "11; that was over the top."