By scheduling its pre-E3 press conference for Monday night, Microsoft presumably hoped to get the jump on Sony (tomorrow morning) and Nintendo (tomorrow afternoon) and grab some headlines in the meantime. And grab some headlines it will, but probably not for the right reasons.
Although the software line-up on show was certainly impressive (with Halo 2 and Project Gotham Racing 2 amongst others), new titles and game details were pretty thin on the ground. The only matters of any surprise were that Kameo has slipped until 2004, and that "Grabbed by the Ghoulies" will be Rare's first Xbox release - just in time for this Christmas. GBTG is described as a humorous beat 'em up adventure game set in Ghoulhaven Hall, in which players control a young boy named Cooper on a mission to rescue his girlfriend. Who has been "grabbed by the ghoulies" (golly).
Other than that, we now know for sure that Conker will return next year, and that Microsoft plans to extend the Xbox Live service's reach beyond the console's borders - in a manner of speaking. Conker's revival, dubbed Live and Uncut, will be an Xbox Live-enabled team-based shooter, in which the foul-mouthed alcoholic rodent faces seven scenario-based modes of play, and new brand XSNsports.com (think EA Sports, Sega Sports) will be the focal point for owners of Microsoft's first-party sports titles. Players of NFL Fever and the like will be able to compete in leagues and tournaments documented on the website.
Microsoft is also still hoping to ship Crimson Skies and Counter-Strike this year, aiming to have more than 50 Xbox Live games on the market by the time Saint Nick comes a-calling. With any luck, they'll be joined by Fable.
And so with very little to get excited about we retreated into the night. We'll be getting our teeth stuck into the likes of Halo 2, PGR2, Kameo and hopefully Conker: Live and Uncut sometime this week, but until then: nothing to frighten either Nintendo or Sony, who we'll be catching up with tomorrow.
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