Here at E3, after five long years

Moi before the Xbox press con kicked off.Faithful followers of this blog and many friends whom I’ve complained to, will know that I was once destined to arrive at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in 2004, but never got past the Los Angeles airport customs and was deported home instead.

The whole sad and sorry story can be found here.

What irony it is, that the same company who invited me up to E3 then is the same company sending me to this year’s E3. Except this time, instead of being part of the press corps, I was part of the Xbox PR corps. Still cynical as hell though ;D

Now the 2004 fiasco wasn’t Microsoft’s fault, just some seriously overzealous people in the Bush administration (which is thankfully history). The Customs officers at LAX were professional then, and continue to be today.

But enough moaning and on to the show!

We kicked off the week with possibly the most jam-packed Xbox press conference in our decade-long history (left, me posing before the show started).

We announced so many things it’s better you check out the Xbox E3 press site instead if you really want to dive into everything. Here are a few things that really blew me away (and I’m not easily impressed ok).

Xbox E3 press con: I nearly fell off my chair when the two remaining Beatles, Paul and Ringo, came on stage to talk about Beatles Rock Band.

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We premiered Beatles Rock Band. I’ve been excited about the game for a long time (regardless of the fact whether it will be made available in Asia this year. RB1 was delayed for one year before EA brought it in). But I nearly fell off my chair when Paul and Ringo appeared on stage (above..sorry, this is the best resolution my Panasonic LX3 could produce from the distance)! Felt like screaming like some groupie chick “PAUUUL!!!"

Metal Gear Rising. Bye bye Playstation exclusive franchise, hello Xbox 360, ohayo Kojima-san!MGS creator Kojima-san appeared on stage with Xbox execs John Schappert and Don Mattrick.

Then, as I’ve suspected for a long time, it was announced that the Metal Gear series was coming to Xbox 360. You’d think we Xbox PR folks would know all this stuff way beforehand, but it was kept tightly under wraps as leaks often occur in this gaming industry when too many people get wind of info.

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I’m not a big MGS fan (MGS4 was horribly boring due to the long cutscenes), but the last third-party exclusive on the Playstation has finally come over to our platform, and that says alot for the youngest gaming company in the console wars.

You guys know I always have some fancy ideas on how to zhng my car, but the ultimate zhnging game is about to hit us this October…Forza Motorsport 3!!! One photorealistic screen shot speaks a thousand words lah:

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We also have a new Lips trailer for our upcoming Number One Hits package with songs like U Can’t Touch This and Karma Chameleon.

Lips is one of the best party games out there that many locals haven’t discovered yet. The developers have been beefing up the song library and with recent updates to the gameplay, it’s turning out to be Isaac and Isabel’s fave game, even better than Cooking Mama.

And finally, the @#%#@ biggest news of the week (and it’s only Monday):

See the video first, then digest the PR stuff below:

“Project Natal,” pronounced “nuh-tall,” is a code name for a revolutionary new way to play, no controller required. See a ball? Kick it, hit it, trap it or catch it. Unlike 2-D cameras and controllers, “Project Natal” tracks your full body movement in 3-D, while responding to commands, directions, even a difference of emotion in your voice.

When “Project Natal” is ready, it will work with every Xbox 360 console so people who have never picked up a controller can finally join the fun.

See below for “Project Natal” 101, a list of terms and concepts to help explain this transformation in home entertainment.

What is “Project Natal”?

“Project Natal” (pronounced na-tall) is the code name for the new controller-free gaming and entertainment experience from Xbox 360. The name “Project Natal” has several sources. Microsoft Corp. traditionally uses cities as code names. As a result, Alex Kipman, who incubated the project and is from Brazil, chose Natal, a city along the northeastern coast of Brazil, as a tribute to his country. In addition, he knew that Natal also means “to be born” in Latin. Given the new audiences “Project Natal” will bring to Xbox 360, this felt right.

How Will “Project Natal” Change the Way I Play?

· Controller-free gaming and entertainment. “Project Natal” provides a whole new way to play — no controller required. It uses a sensor to track your body movement and recognize your face, even listen to your voice. If you know how to move your hands, shake your hips, or speak, you and your friends will be able to jump instantly into any “Project Natal” experience.

· Full-body play. “Project Natal” provides a new way to play where you use all parts of your body — head, hands, feet and torso. With controller-free gaming you don’t just control the superhero, you are the superhero. Full-body tracking allows the “Project Natal” sensor to capture every move, from head to toe, to give players a full-body gaming experience.

· Personalized play. “Project Natal” provides an in-game experience in which the player’s face and voice are recognized. Greet and speak to characters in the game, or simply step into view of the sensor to log into Xbox LIVE and connect with friends. Only “Project Natal” is smart enough to remember voices and faces. Fun has never been so personalized.

· Off-the-couch play. “Project Natal” provides gameplay that gets you off the couch, on your feet and in the fun. Each “Project Natal” experience is designed to get players moving, laughing, cheering and playing together. “Project Natal” makes social gaming off-the-couch fun.

Honestly, no matter what you think of Xbox vs Wii, this changes the way we play games forever. Yes, the Wii brought motion sensing to the living room, but the wires just annoy me to death and I always fear smashing the screen with a flying Nunchuk.

We had a lot more good stuff presented today, especially on Xbox LIVE (New Avatar Marketplace! Online downloads of full retail games like Mass Effect! Facebook and Twitter on Xbox LIVE!!!), but that’s it for now till the next update 😀

(Gosh, blogging after press events is tiring, I don’t know how the real bloggers do it)

(This post originally appeared on www.iantan.org)