Microsoft goes after Wii, PS3 territory

  • Santa Monica (CA) - Amid the regurgitation of Halo 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV, Microsoft showed a lineup of stuff designed to spread the horizons of the Xbox 360 at last night's E3 event.

    Microsoft is not hurting when it comes to console sales.  The Xbox 360 is nearly at the sales level of the Wii and PS3 combined.  This has left critics to attack the limited selection of games. The Microsoft console is essentially viewed as a first-person shooter gaming box.  While there were plenty FPS titles at the company's E3 press briefing, we also saw a new push to broaden the 360's scope.

    As part of this move, Microsoft is continuing to expand the lineup of the Xbox Live Arcade, a digital distribution channel from the console with a virtually exclusive focus on casual games.

    Among the new titles are Sonic and Golden Axe from Sega, which were made available to XBL Arcade last night.  We also saw a rather indistinct set of flashy, colorful puzzle and shooter games.

    Additionally, Microsoft announced a new Scene It game (from the series of DVD trivia board games) for the Xbox 360, complete with a new series of wireless controllers.  It seems kind of like an answer to the Wii, which has a more simplistic control scheme and can easily appeal to casual gamers.

    Microsoft is also wasting no time in beating the PS3 to the punch on a couple of Sony's more heralded genres.  Three games mentioned at the briefing in some detail were role-playing games (Eternal Sonata, Lost , and ).  RPGs were a rich part of the PS2's heritage but have so far been scarce on the PS3.

    Visually, we were most impressed with Project Gotham Racing 4, which looked super crisp on Microsoft's gigantic screen.  Call of Duty 4 also looked impressive, and the tactical game style shined through in the demo, but may be overshadowed by Halo 3.  Unfortunately, nothing new was really shown with most of these games.  The Assassin's Creed demo was literally the same level as last year's showing, and there was nothing new to show for Grand Theft Auto IV.

    Microsoft has said numerous times that its E3 lineup would be one of the best in gaming history.  With the cavalcade of so many anticipated titles heading to the holiday season, it may not have been far off.  Though there weren't any big game announcements, Microsoft still has an impressive showing for this year's E3.