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Game Profile
GENRE: First Person Shooter
PLAYERS:   1-16
November 09, 2004

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More in this Series
Doom 3
Halo 2
Kameo: Elements of Power
 Written by Adam Woolcott  on May 14, 2003

Special: Who cares about smart ass comments when we've got Halo 2 to discuss?!

The theme of Microsoft's pre-E3 conference on Monday night was simple ? games. In the 2nd full year of the existence of the Xbox, Microsoft spent their time displaying all their games that will be seeing the light of day soon, along with some advancements in their brightest technologies. They also displayed a game called Halo 2. You probably have heard of it, and it's prequel ? it was a pretty decent game, no? No question, Xbox owners have a lot to look forward to in the near future.

Perhaps the biggest announcement of the show concerns sports games and Xbox Live ? this being the official unveiling of Xbox Sports Network, or XSN. XSN is set to change the rules of online sports gaming, by finally advancing it from mere exhibition contests that mean little into something that will draw in Franchise-mode loving sports gamers. All of their sports-related titles will fall into XSN ? NFL Fever 2004, NBA Inside Drive 2004, the new NHL Rivals 2004, and Links Golf 2004 in the traditional sports sense, and the extreme sports sequel, Amped 2. All the games will function in the same way ? through XSN, you'll be able to form leagues, tournaments, and other events, and keep track of all the details through the Internet on your PC, through email, and even through your cellular phone. So while you're away from your Xbox, you can get the latest scores from your league, latest stats and standings, even check out the trading wire to see what's happening in your game. It's like fantasy sports that's been going around for ages, but now it's 100% interactive.

There was plenty more discussed at MS's show ? the very first Xbox footage of Doom III was shown, and it looks like the conversion will maintain most if not all of the graphical fidelity that the PC version has. The Activision-published title probably won't be released for the ?Box until 2004, but this footage should tide over Doom fans until that day.

Rare, the latest investment by Microsoft, officially unveiled their lineup for the show as well ? besides the known Kameo: Elements of Power, Rare unveiled Grabbed by the Ghoulies, an amusing title for what should be an amusing game, and Conker: Live and Uncut. Conker in specific is an interesting case ? at its heart, it's a graphically enhanced version of the Nintendo 64 game ? besides the more uncensored stuff that Nintendo wouldn't allow; but the ?Live? element comes into play thanks to the online multiplayer that the game will feature ? based on the multiplayer elements of the N64 cart, to be sure. No word on the most demanded Rare title though ? that being Perfect Dark Zero.

Hands-down though, the star of the show was what could perhaps be the game of the show ? that's Halo 2. The audience roared in anticipation when Halo 2 finally hit the big screen ? and it wasn't just footage anymore, it was all-out gameplay movies. For 8 minutes, the crowed oohed and aaahed at the amazing graphics and the incredible on-screen action of the Master Chief arriving at Earthcity, on a mission to help the Marines handle the Covenant forces. In what could only be described as a futuristic D-Day, the video showed the Chief with his new sniper scope rifle, and the dual SMG attack as well. Bungie also displayed how the Chief could now take command of the gun on a Warthog and let AI drive him around, which was a hit with those in attendance. Saving the best for last, we get to see the Master Chief essentially pull a Grand Theft Auto and hijack a Covenant Ghost ship, leaping on it, knocking off the Elite riding it, and using it for himself. This easily got the biggest response from the large crowd of attendees, and for good reason. While Halo 2 won't be released until 2004, Xbox fans should now know that this sequel will be well worth the wait.

Closing Impressions
Microsoft was unquestionably strong with their conference ? not only did they show off their meal ticket in Halo 2, they finally took strides to make Xbox Live more interactive and draw more people in, and Rare finally started demonstrating what was promised when Microsoft acquired them. No matter what though, the 2003 Xbox Press Conference will be best remembered for 8 short minutes of bliss, thanks to Halo 2.

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