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Aug 29, 2007

Microsoft's X'07: Games + Open Bar + Blackout = Best First Event Ever

Let me start off by saying Microsoft sure knows how to throw a great open bar… I mean media event. X07, Microsoft’s holiday preview event was so full of awesomesauce that the cops had to show up. Seriously, they did.

After fighting through traffic, Johnny Wadd and I met Cosbytron at the doors and plotted our course of attack, which was basically started at the end of one row and working our way towards the food and open bar.

We hit the Vivendi booth first and dove into the one game everyone seemed scary to play, Crash Bandicoot: Crash of the Titans. Luckily Glenn, our guide to all things Crash, showed us a couple of different levels, cause we were stuck in this level that I called, “The Circle of Endless Spiking Beasts”. The ability to take over and use enemies in the game added a unique twist on this old franchise.

We talked with Chris from LucasArts and test drove Thrillville, which allows you to built, interact and explore a theme park and the new Star Wars LEGO, which includes all six episodes of the Star Wars movies with new characters, vehicles and an online co-op feature.

We took a turn with Rock Band with Cosbytron on the drums and me on guitar. And yes, I suck at it. Took me two fails before I got the hang of strumming the guitar. I loved watching the Activision employee singing to every song while everyone else got to play the instruments. He must have sung "Wanted: Dead or Alive" 300 times during the entire event.

There was a new Stranglehold demo that picked up where Xbox Live demo left off with a new chapter called "Personal Invitation". Our Midway guide showed us some cool moves, environment features and even a wicked boss battle in the new demo.

Midway also had Black Site: Area 51 available to play, but after Stranglehold, I was kind of disappointed to see that very few background items were interactive. The squad controls seemed limited to only two commands: move and open a door, but the A.I. on your squad was pretty impressive. I look forward to giving it another chance in September when the demo is hitting Xbox Live.

The game that really surprisingly impressed me was Electronic Arts’ The Simpsons game. It has some cool themed levels, humorous features and great cel-shaded graphics. I really loved that the game allows you to find various video game clichés in each level, which unlocks a screen with Comic Book Guy who makes a comment about the cliché. Best. Feature. Ever!

Valve’s The Orange Box demo was tucked away in a corner and somehow we managed to break the game. We quickly fixed it and previewed a demo of Half Life 2: Episode 2 which was in dire need of some more enemies. It took 15 minutes of driving around before we finally found two enemies to shoot and a couple of crates to break out. It was a shame that there weren’t any other demos available for Team Fortress or Portal, because those are the games we really wanted to play.

Everything had been going so well at the event until 2:10pm, when the power blew and the entire building and event was left with no power, no games and no air conditioning. Call it a giant red ring of death. We hung in there though, with the help of our friends, Jack Daniels and Heineken.

I took a spin around the block in the Project Gotham Racing 4 Porsche and chatted up the Vivendi employees and a few other reporters. The PGR4 demo cars were a great hit with attendees but not with the police; they shut down the free spins after they accused the drivers of speeding. Party poopers.

After a quick bite to eat, limited power came back on around 5pm and we headed back in for more games, but by this point most of the developers had packed up and we missed playing the Assassin’s Creed demo, all of the Microsoft games for PC and checking out the Halo 3 single player game play footage. To supplant the lack of full power and lights, the organizers placed candles throughout the event. It was funny to see people play games by candlelight.

We checked out Viva Piñata: Party Animals, World in Conflict, and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare stands, but really didn’t get much play time. Most of the community members who got invites through Jade from Xbox Canada had showed up by then and the demos had too many people waiting to play. We would have stayed but the lack of air conditioning in the building was making it too uncomfortable to stay, so we grabbed some swag bags and hit the road.

All in all, I was impressed with Microsoft’s setup of X07 and though the power problem did put a damper on the day, it only made me realize how much more I want to see and play certain games. We received five star treatment from all the Microsoft staff, developers, and even the bar staff who served us drinks and walked around with those little cocktail weenies.

Best of all, we nabbed some sweet swag for Blue Dragon, Turok, Halo 3 and Microsoft which we’ll be giving away in a future contest on the site. Look for that soon and some hands on reviews of all we played.

Cosbytron managed to score some time with Project Gotham Racing 4, Need for Speed: Pro Street, Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom, Skate, and Gears of War for Windows before we showed up. Lucky bugger missed the traffic jam by an off-ramp or two, so he got about an hour more with the games then I did. Look for his reviews in the next day or two on Destructoid.


Xav said...

Hey I told you that "building red ringed" joke in confidence and you nabbed it from me!

Nice meeting you at the event.

Xav de Matos

Faith said...

Yes, I admit it was your joke, but it was too good not to post somewhere.