E3: The Microsoft press conference - full report

Microsoft kicks off E3 2008 with a slew of impressive new announcements
Microsoft kicks off E3 2008 with a slew of impressive new announcements

Microsoft has just officially kicked off E3 2008, with a packed press conference to announce a slew of new games and peripherals for the Xbox 360, with the confident claim that Xbox will sell more consoles than its rivals, Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii.

Microsoft's head of strategy and business development, Shane Kim, flanked by his avatar on the large screen behind him, welcomes the crowd:

'Hello, and welcome to the party! We're inviting more people to 360 than ever before. Last year we featured an amazing lineup of games, and this year is no different.'

The games almost begin

Games-wise the 360's line-up is looking impressively strong – with breathtaking demos of Bethesda's Fallout 3, Capcom's Resident Evil 5 (out 13 March 2009), Peter Molyneux showing off a 'finished' Fable 2 (finally out in October this year) and Epic's poster boy, Cliffy B (finally) showing off the much-anticipated Gears of War 2 (out November 7th – date for the diary!).

Halo games were noticeable by their absence, as was the 'Twin-Peaks-a-like' Alan Wake, which was a shame, as that was one of the original-looking titles that many 360 fanboys were eager to hear more news about.

For the arcade fans, a Geometry Wars sequel game is also unveiled, to much appreciation from the crowd, along with a sequel to the original Galaga called Galaga Legion.

Valve's portal lives on...

GLADOS from Portal also pops up at one point to announce a '2008 exclusive' for Xbox 360, Portal: Still Alive – the sequel to Valve's superb game.

For the hardcore RPG faithful, Square Enix president, Yoichi Wada announces three major 'timed exclusive' titles for 360 in development from the Japanese giant - Infinite Undiscovery (Sep 2008), Star Ocean: The Last Hope (Spring 2009) and The Last Remnant (due Christmas 2008).

The man from Square Enix also shows some tantalising footage of Final Fantasy XIII for 360 – yes, that's right, another PlayStation exclusive bites the dust – telling the crowd: 'At long last, the day we have all been waiting for has arrived. It gives me great pleasure to unveil this to you today. An Xbox 360 version of FF13, the latest in the FF series, is planned for release! We believe that releasing a 360 version of FF13 will allow us to provide a game to even more fans in NA and across the world.'

Homemade movies and music

Shane Kim talks up 360's GTA IV's exclusive downloadable content (a 'huge event') and mentions that over 1000 games will be available on 360 by the end of 2008.

Meanwhile, Rare demos the new Banjo Kazooie and shows off a new Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise clip. Rare also announces that the original and much-loved Banjo Kazooie will be released on Xbox Live Arcade this Christmas.

Next up, a few casual games are announced with Scene It: Box Office Smash to be the first title to make use of the 360's new avatars and Codemasters and Zoe Mode developing a 360 exclusive called You're in the Movies, in which players make cheesy B-movies with the Xbox Live Vision cam. TechRadar foresees much hilarity and embarrassment coming from this game this coming Christmas!

After discussing the new versions of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, both due this Christmas, Shane Kim demos new title Lips from Microsoft Game Studios – Microsoft's answer to Sony's SingStar karaoke game franchise, in which you can sing along to your own tunes from your Zune or iPod.

A developer describes Lips as follows: 'Lips breaks new ground by being the first game to let you sing from your own music collection. Lips features wireless, motion sensitive mikes.'

Welsh songstress Duffy is wheeled out on stage to sing her hit tune Mercy in Lips, as it is announced she is one of the featured artists in the game. Expect to be hearing much more on Lips and its interesting new 360 microphone peripheral in the coming days.

Adam Hartley