Conrad was there live in Los Angeles, and he lets us know what he thought of Microsoft's E3 presentation.
It's 11.41am, and I've just purchased the biggest 'medium coffee' that I've ever seen. I bought it from a McDonalds, so that myself and NZGamer.com editor Alan Bell can use the WiFi, which we badly need because we've just exited Microsoft's Xbox E3 showcase.
This is my first E3, and the grandiose stage shows were always going to be a highlight. The Xbox show didnt beat around the bush. It's announcements show off the new direction Microsoft are taking both to the console and to the titles it offers. It's ambitious, to say the least.
We've already given you a blow by blow ticker of how the events unfolded. So its only appropriate for me to throw down some critical commentary on the show itself and what Xbox offered up for gamers to see.
Big budget stage shows are a must have for the major studios, and Microsoft did their best to pull out the stops. The set was huge, lit in classic Microsoft green. It was nice and open too, with huge presentation screens and a variety of open spaces. Two massive arches pushed out from the top and the bottom, studded with lights. Like a massive corporate jaw. Even from my seat high back in the stands it was an impressive set up. As each title was presented the sets images would warp and twist, fully maximising the space. From a technical point of view this was clever, as it meant that limited stage real estate could be recycled again and again.
With Tomb Raider trailers racing in front of my eyes, Usher grabbing his crotch then doing a black flip, or Halo 4 gameplay footage smashing into my retinas and my eardrums, I was left with the distinct impression that Microsoft wanted to impress me - or at the very least saturate my brain into submission. They achieved both of these things.
There is a well heeled saying in the PR industry: "fake it till you make it". Wise words, and they explain why big production studios throw cash at these raging staged events. But what of the content? Did Microsoft's new reveals cut the mustard? Or have they bitten off more than they can chew?
The lasting impression I have of the event is that Xbox have really gone full hog on peripherals and synergy. For a major platform at a gaming convention there was surprisingly little said about, y'know, games. The best we got was some wicked in-game footage and a few release dates. Instead, Microsoft's focus was on the Xbox as an all in one system, something that would house all of your personal entertainment needs. Announced was further content providers for live movie streaming, enhanced functionality for the Kinect, including bringing Bing Search to Aotearoa - apparently Microsoft have solved the issue of interpreting our accents down in Nuu Zilland. But by far the most interesting peripheral announcement was the reveal of SmartGlass (previously rumoured to be named the Xbox Live Companion).
This new tablet and smartphone integration pulls together all of your devices and enables them to be used together. The best example of this was when Microsoft's head of strategy played a scene from Game of Thrones, then demonstrated how an interactive map of Westeros could be viewed on a tablet - which took users to a new place whenever a there was a change of scene. Its a very interesting idea, and hints at a whole new world for digital synergy (and it apparently will work on Apple, Android and Windows devices). But I have to confess to being a little skeptical of this new direction. The idea is great, but the more complex systems get the more prone they are to break down. Microsoft sure as hell ain't keeping it simple. But maybe that's the way of the future, personally I have my doubts but I'd be interested in your views in the comments below.
Microsoft kicked off E3 in style. Their event was slick, polished and everything an E3 show should be. But that was also its problem, without preempting the unknown it will be interesting to see if any other major companies decide to take risks, or stick to the tried and true. Microsoft showed off slices of everything they've got on the go, and it all looks enticing - but we will still need to wait and see as to whether they can pull it all off.
Oh, and as far as we know any hint of an Xbox "720" is still on the back-burner, and with Microsoft's commitment to device link-ins with the 360, we might be waiting a little longer yet. We will keep our ears to the ground and let you know as soon as we can.
NZGamer.com appears at E3 2012 thanks to Orcon Broadband.