Publishers show off upcoming Xbox 360 games at X’09 in Toronto
Toronto’s This is London nightclub was the scene of X’09, Xbox Canada’s holiday preview event for media, today (September 29).
On hand were a number of the games to be released this fall and winter for the Xbox 360, including:
Activision: Tony Hawk: Ride, DJ Hero, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Electronic Arts: NHL 10
Microsoft Game Studios: Halo 3: ODST, Forza Motorsport 3
MTV Games/Electronic Arts: The Beatles: Rock Band
Rockstar Games: Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony
Valve/Electronic Arts: Left 4 Dead 2
Ubisoft: Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction
Microsoft Canada representatives who produced the event told the Straight that X’09 was a bit smaller and more intimate than it has been in past years. Publishers were invited to bring a smaller number of games that really featured their talents and the capabilities of the Xbox 360.
I’d already finished playing Halo 3: ODST, but appreciated the chance to try out Forza 3 with a steering wheel set-up. It proved to me that the best way to play racing games is with—at the very least—a steering wheel and pedal controllers. Better yet, it’s to be nestled in one of the racing-game accessories that includes a cockpit seat.
Microsoft is quick to point out that the Xbox 360 is more than just a gaming console. This fall, Facebook and Twitter integration will be rolled out, and the Zune brand finds a home on the hardware as it takes over the video portal.
For now, Zune will be the place where Canadian Xbox users can find and watch video. While no studios or networks have been announced, we can expect the major entities will be partnering with Microsoft to get their movies and series on the system.
Full 1080p video will be available to rent and purchase, and with a high-speed Internet connection, users can take advantage of instant digital streaming of the high-def content.
Ubisoft’s Jerome Leclerc-Couture walked me through the latest demo of Splinter Cell: Conviction. To be released on February 23, 2010, the newest game in the Tom Clancy franchise is a reinvention of sorts, led by some of the same producers who were responsible for bringing the Rainbow Six series back from the brink.
The new narrative tools that have been integrated into Conviction are impressive and used to great effect. Mission objectives and hints are delivered by projecting text onto the environment, and flashbacks and information are projected as movies onto the background.
Leclerc-Couture said that these techniques, occasionally used in the film and television media, are a way to keep the player immersed in the story, a way to continue the narrative without disconnecting the player from the experience of being Sam Fisher.
Michael Ironsides returns to voice Fisher, by the way, and the goggles used by the covert operative are sonar-based this time around.
Infinity Ward representatives Joel Emslie and Drew McCoy were on hand to present Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which releases on November 10.
A limited edition Xbox 360 bundle includes a 250-gigabyte console that is painted in the Modern Warfare colours and a copy of the game.
Emslie and McCoy showed off a level from early on in the game in which the player, in the guise of “Roach” Sanderson, is teamed with “Soap” MacTavish, one of the protagonists players embodied in the first Modern Warfare.
The mission, set in Kazakhstan, took place during a blizzard. The level started off slowly, with the two commando soldiers climbing frozen waterfalls with ice axes and sneaking into a military base.
“You’ll be a ghost,” MacTavish—voiced by Scottish actor Kevin McKidd—tells Sanderson.
Of course, by the end of the level, the two troops had been compromised, and after a frantic firefight, they escape down the mountain on snowmobiles.
After the demonstration, I got a chance to play the new Special Ops mode of the game, which is a two-player co-op mode that can be played split-screen or over an on-line connection.
Modern Warfare 2 is much the same as its predecessor, but has more polish, more attention to detail. It’s the same, but better.
Other journalists attending X’09 that I spoke with agreed that developers are showing their best work this fall, having figured out how best to program and design for the Xbox 360.
Yes, some of the games may be sequels, but they’ve never looked so good, or played so well.