E3 2009: Live from the Microsoft Press Conference

10:24am PST – Lights dimming, the show’s about to start. Get pumped, or don’t, it’s really your choice.

10:25 – First trailer opening the show: Rock Band Beatles. Cartoon-style Fab 4 crusing around the world, reliving their moments from their career. Hard Days Night, Paperback Writer, Here Comes the Sun, I Am the Walrus. Getting trippier as it goes along. Just like the Beatles themselves!

10:28 – Alex and Van walk on the stage to talk about the game, joined by a band of a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer and 3 singers. Gameplay pretty similar to Rock Band 2, obvious visual differences.

Confirmed Song List: Saw Her Standing There, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, I Feel Fine, Day Tripper, Tax Man, I Am The Walrus, Back in the USSR, Octopus’s Garden, Here Comes the Sun, Get Back (play on rooftop!), Tax Man, Paperback Writer, Hard Days Night. All You Need is Love exclusive to Xbox Live.

Game will feature Abby Road as DLC shortly after launch. More full albums coming.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr come to the stage! Ringo: “The game is good, the graphics are very good, we were great!” Paul: “We never thought we’d end up as Androids!”

10:42 – Tony Hawk comes to the stage for Tony Hawk Ride. Showing off final board design. “Wanted to do a video game with a skateboard controller for a long time.” “Gonna delivery a new type of social gaming.”

Rolling the world premiere trailer of pro skaters trying the game for the first time. Activision will have the game on the show floor.

10:46 – Modern Warfare 2 trailer rolling, same one that aired during the NBA Playoffs.

Infinity Ward devs hit the stage. Showing off first gameplay footage.

Follow Captain Soap McTavish on snowy cliff. Climbing up sheer rock face with ice picks. Jets scream overhead and loosen ice pack, Soap slips but holds on. Run and jump with icepicks like Cliffhanger (which is the name of the mission!).

Mission skipping ahead in the interest of time. Assault rifle with GPS tracker in the middle of snow storm. Enemies cant see you. Head to plan C4 at fueling station in enemy camp on top of mountain. Visibility about 10 feet. Your nickname is Roach.

Once you blow the C4 the storm clears and you’re set upon by dozens of guys in an airfield. Snowmobiles rush by. Basically surrounded by enemies and flames. Making a break for the cliffside, snowmobiles hurdle down the cliff after you. Hop in snow mobile. Full driving controls as you rush down the mountain, able to fire pistol while driving. Mission ends abruptly. Announcement that two map packs for Modern Warfare 2 will be released on Xbox Live first. No telling how long the “exclusive” will be.

10:57 – Final Fantasy XIII producer joins the stage. Showing the world’s first look of FFXIII running on Xbox 360. Lightning and Sazh, main characters, battling a giant air mech. 4 active time gauges, with more resulting in higher damage attacks. Conjuring Odin Summon. Summon stands next to the conjurer and fights until the battle ends. Targeting Spring 2010 release of Final Fantasy XIII.

11:01 – From this point on, every game will be exclusive to Xbox 360.

Donald Mustard and Cliff Bleszinski from Epic Games. First Epic Live Arcade title, developed by Chair Entertainment. Inspired by Metroid and Castlevania. Titled Shadow Complex. Exploration and combat. Looks like 2D Uncharted. Map is just like Metroid. Get weapon upgrades for additional exploration, hookshot or triple jump. 120 hidden items, campaign is 10 hours long. Giant robot mech boss battle, kinda like Contra. Shadow Complex coming this Summer.

11:05 – Joy Ride, an avatar based arcade racer. Kinda like TrackMania but with avatars. Free to download and play. Personalize with paid customizable options. Share created racetracks with friends. Coming this Winter.

11:06 – Crackdown 2. Woo! “The city is infected, you are the cure.” Crackdown 2.

11:07 – Next trailer: zombies in Louisiana? Left 4 Dead 2! Chainsaws and 4 new survivors. November 17th release date.

11:09 – Splinter Cell Conviction. Sam Fisher playing a piano. “The Sam Fisher you know is dead.” But not really, it’s still him.

Max Beland and Alex Parizeu from Ubisoft. “Splinter Cell Conviction has changed quite a bit since last you saw it.” Playing E3 demo.

Sam is on a personal mission to find out who killed his daughter. Starts off in a dingy bathroom as Sam is interrogating a suspect. Need to sneak into a mansion. Story unfolds in real-time, cutscenes projected on walls. Mark and execute, lets you tag enemies and take them out instantly as you enter a door, similar to Rainbow Six. Fire at chandelier and take down 3 guys in mansion. Drop down on enemies from the ceiling, hide in the shadows unseen. Objectives literally project on walls. “FIND SARAH’s KILLER.” Almost like Fringe’s title cards. Eschelon soldiers break in and arrest Fisher.

11:17 – Forza Motorsport 3 trailer. Dan Greenwalt, the game director, to the stage. “Inspired by all-things cars.” “The definitive racing game of this generation.” Track in mountainous locale. Take out other drivers. New graphics engine, 60 FPS. Lots of marketing terms being thrown out, I’ll spare you from now on. Player-created content is back. Create and upload high-def video with video editor. Impressive trailer with car spins and tricks.

11:23 – Halo 3 ODST gameplay demo starts.

In drop pod falling from the sky. Covenant ships down below. Dropship gets hit and you crash.

“The Rookie” – Wake up in crashed dropship. Weeks before the start of Halo 3 in the city of New Mombasa. You play The Rookie, an ODST separated from his team. Two new sound-supressed weapons and a visor with nigh vision. Fighting grunts and brutes. Halo 1 pistol, silenced and scoped. Visor highlights important objectives. “Great stories are told in original ways.” Find a detonator which flashes back to another ODST fighter, “Dutch.” Fight as Dutch to see how he died and fill in the full story of New Mombasa’s attack. On a bridge arming charges as Covenant move in from either side. After you blow the bridge, the demo ends. Showing off new co-op mode, Firefight.

11:29 – Top secret Bungie project. Trailer rolls: “From the beginning you knew the end…”

Halo Reach, “Falls 2010.” When you buy Halo 3 ODST, you’ll get an invite to the Reach MP Beta.

11:31 – Sam Lake, writer at Remedy. Introducing Alan Wake. In-gameplay demo.

“My latest work, a super natural thriller, is coming to life.” Chase after suspect. Voice over is like a novel. Cars being lifted and thrown into the air by an unknown force. Trees being knocked down. Rusty streams in the distance. Equipped with a pump-action shotgun and a flashlight. Mysterious miners attack! Minigame to start up generator. “Rusty’s screams were still ringing in my ears. I was desperate to reach him.” Voice over is pretty over-the-top cheese, kinda like Silent Hill. Much more action-based though. Alan Wake is coming in Spring 2010. Maybe.

11:38 – Changing focus to Xbox Live. Music coming to Xbox Live via Last.fm. Browse and listen to Last.fm right from the dashboard. Available to Xbox Live gold members later this year at no additional charge.

Netflix will be browseable straight from the Xbox dashboard, no need to go to the PC. Partnership with SkyTV for instant watch TV, including Cricket and Football. Cricket!

Relaunching video service as Zune Video. Full 1080p. All movies and TV shows watchable instantly. Doubling number of countries the video store is accessible in.

Watch movies, TV and listen to music with friends in a theater-like experience. Avatars sit in front of screen and you can emote.

11:43 – Facebook on Xbox Live. No, you cant escape. Felicia Day on stage to talk about Facebook. I swoon for her. Link Facebook friends with Xbox Live profile.

Facebook Connect…games will let you post stuff to Facebook. Starting with Tiger Woods PGA Tour on 360.

Twitter coming to Xbox Live as well. You can’t escape. Jesus, Felicia has over 600K followers. Twitter and Facebook coming to Xbox Live this fall.

11:48 – Don Mattrick, SVP of Xbox, comes to the stage. He’s a little stiff…

Kojima walks on the stage. “Great to stand here on the Xbox 360 stage.”

“Bringing the Metal Gear Solid franchise to Xbox 360. The next major release will be called Metal Gear Solid Rising and is coming to Xbox 360.” “I didn’t say anything about Solid Snake.”

Trailer rolls. Shot of Cyber Ninja with eye bandana. Metal Gear Solid Rising: Lighting Bolt Action? “Raiden Is Back.” “Completely new Metal Gear game and you can look forward to many more.”

11:52 – “Can we go beyond the controller? Can we make YOU the controller? We can.”

No controller required. Fighting game, racing game with steering wheel. Multiple players at once. Use your whole body. Not totally sure how it’s different than the EyeToy. Play skating game without skateboard? Video chat, dress up avatar? Creep potential is high. Basically this claims to get rid of all peripherals. Why would I buy the Tony Hawk Ride skateboard, then? Activision’s gonna be pissed!

It’s called Project Natal. Breakthrough sensor that tracks 3D movement. Controller-free games and entertainment. When it launches, Natal will work with every Xbox 360. “Leap into a new era of interactive entertainment without having to launch a new console.”

11:58 – Steven Speilberg on the stage. “How can interactive entertainment became as approachable as all other forms of entertainment?” Make the technology invisible. “I felt like I was present for a historic moment. Change the paradigm of social interaction.” “Not about reinventing the wheel, it’s about no wheel at all.”

12:01 – Kudo Tsunoda, creative director of Project Natal. “No matter your age or gaming ability, you can instantly have fun.”

Showing off Project Natal. Avatar mimics his motion…pretty jerky and spastic. Navigate dash with a swipe of the hand. Go anywhere in the menus without the controller.

Ricochet minigame – Destroy the bricks at the end of the hall. Kick and bat balls with your arms and legs. Move in a 3D space. “This isn’t a game where you just sit on the sofa using pre-set waggle commands.” Burn!

Paint party – 3D art demo. Say the color you want, splat paint on canvas. Painting landscape by moving arms. It’s pretty abstract…fine strokes with the hand result in smaller buckets of paint.

Pose brings in stencil body, basically full-body shadow puppet. Say cheese to capture. Reveal to remove stencil and combine the two pictures.

12:10 – Peter Molyneux coming on stage to show off what sorta progress he’s making with Project Natal. “That thing in our hands actually has been the biggest barrier to what we want to create.”

A film crew came to Lionhead to see what they’ve done with Natal. Milo is a game character who interact with you. Emotion of your voice registers with Milo’s facial expression. This looks fully scripted, it’s not an AI set-up, I don’t think. Ok, now it’s interactive. You can move the water of a pond and interact with fish.

Draw a fish on a piece of paper and give it to Milo. But again, this could all be very scripted. Hoping to get some hands-on time with it. Apparently they’re showing it behind closed doors, so I’ll be checking it out tonight at Microsoft’s event.

Matrick is back on stage to wrap things up. That’s probably all she wrote. Lots of big news, we’ll be going in-depth with these stories later today, so stay tuned.