E3:No Xbox price cut, no redesign, but lotsa games on show

Grabbed by the Ghoulies

gamesindustry.biz logo Rumours of a price cut and a hardware redesign failed to materialise at Microsoft's Xbox conference in Los Angeles on Monday night, with the company focusing attention instead on its forthcoming software line-up.

In fact, the conference focused entirely on product announcements and showcases, aside from some minor Xbox Live announcements - the service will now be integrated more tightly with Microsoft's MSN internet services, such as Web Explorer (the MSN branded version of Internet Explorer) and Messenger, and the company is building a range of online tournaments as well as a line of new sports games under the XSN Sports brand.

Much of the home interest comes in the form of Rare's Xbox line-up, which still sadly lacks concrete information on Perfect Dark 2 but does feature Conker: Live and Uncut, an Xbox Live team-based shooter featuring the eponymous potty-mouthed squirrel, action adventure title Kameo: Elements of Power and amusingly titled cel shaded combat adventure game Grabbed by the Ghoulies (we don't think the Americans quite get that reference, especially since the official blurb for the game refers to the hero's girlfriend being "grabbed by the ghoulies" - suggesting that the hero might want to check the nature of the ladies he dates a little more carefully….)

Grabbed by the Ghoulies is due out this Christmas, while in terms of other British titles, Lionhead's Fable is apparently also due for a Christmas 2003 release, as is Bizarre Creations' Project Gotham Racing 2.

Halo 2 was shown off at length at the conference in the form of a real-time demonstration, and was a hit with the audience at the Grand Olympic Auditorium - albeit a smaller audience than it could (or should) have been thanks to a bizarre and poorly-conceived piece of scheduling which saw the Microsoft conference landing a day before the other platform holder conferences.

All in all then, a strong showing for Microsoft in terms of software, but still something of a disappointment for anyone who had been expecting major news from the company, with no really large new roduct announcements, no key trade stories and only a few cosmetic tweaks to Xbox Live in the works. It remains to be seen what Sony, Nintendo and Nokia can pull out of the bag tomorrow.

© gamesindustry.biz

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