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Best of E3 2006 from TeamXbox

The guys over at have whipped up their "Best of E3" feature to give gamers the heads-up on what shined through at the convention. You can probably deduce from their name that they didn't nominate certain companies or their products (we're looking at you Sony and Nintendo). So with that said, here are a few noteworthy awards for everything Xbox.

Best Graphics: Gears of War / Runner up: BioShock
Best Action Game: Lost Planet / Runner up: Too Human
Best Racing Game: MotoGP '06 / Runner up: Test Drive Unlimited
Best Sports Game: Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis / Runner up: NCAA Football 07
Sleeper Hit: Just Cause / Runner up: Dead Rising
Best Xbox 360 Game: Mass Effect / Runner up: Gears of War

So what do you think? Of course, don't forget to check out the full feature for write-ups and other nominations.

Check out Saints Row footage from E3

There's some good E3 footage of Saints Row available for those of you wishing to get a taste of GTA on steroids. The similarities between the two are evident, but this title takes some of those elements and ups the ante. If you want to check out the impressions from the show floor, go here.

First impressions: Too Human

The big issue with Silicone Knight's Too Human is going to be the camera. It's completely controlled by the game, and you have to fight the urge to try and swing it around with the right analog stick when it gets in an awkward spot. It also likes to take a wide angle view leaving your human looking like an ant on the battlefield. The game puts you in the role of an Unreal Tournament-type warrior with the ability to make some pretty colors with a sword. You can bust out combos with the right stick and take out waves of insectoid enemies or dual wield a pair of laser guns and blow them away. The combo action is supposed to be super-deep but it didn't feel that way when I played. Pressing B at certain times  launches your most powerful attack, which looks cools but unleashes a looong canned sequence.  I assume you unlock more moves as you progress. The framerate hitched when things got crazy.

Not sure why I keep thinking of this game as an RPG when it's the total opposite. Maybe the title is a little too esoteric. I'd call it a sci-fi 99 Nights with a little less foot traffic.

First impressions: Splinter Cell: Double Agent

The Splinter Cell  series always set a graphics and gameplay standard on the original Xbox and the franchise's first attempt on the 360 continues to impress. This  is one intense demo. It's starts with a literally mind-blowing execution sequence followed by the most harrowing parachute jump I've ever seen in a game. Ubisoft has gone for shocking violence with this entry. You can tell the guy in the pic above won't be dancing a jig any time soon, and his death convulsions before he finished the job with a grenade are a pleasantly disturbing  touch. The initial gameplay will be familiar to Sam Fisher vets, although the controls probably need to be tweaked a bit. The level I played seemed to lean a bit more towards blowing people away than stealth, but I may have just been trigger happy. I appreciated how Ubisoft squeezed something to do into sequences that formerly would have been straight CGI. Overall, Double Agent oozes next-gen production values and looks to offer a gritty tale to frame the well-rendered blood and guts. It may be my favorite demo so far.

Uno theme decks on the way

I had a quick chat with Joshua Howard of Microsoft Casual Games, project manager for Uno, Totem Balls and Lumines, not to mention the revised in-box games (think Solitaire, FreeCell) that will be included with Windows Vista. According to man behind the wild cards, downloadable theme decks are headed to XBLM, starting with a replica of the 35th Anniversary deck that  Mattel is selling in stores. Most of the theme decks will be based on first party MS titles like Kameo and will cost you a few MS points, although the possibility exists for sponsored editions. You don't have to own a theme deck to see it when you're playing a friend who does.  Josh talked up Mattel's enthusiasm for Xbox Live Arcade, which bodes well for future possibilities involving  their trademarks. The gamercard pictures you see in the screenshot above are where the video chat windows will go when the 360 camera is released. Apparently, getting the space to re-size properly was a real pain in the ass. By the way, if you want to go mano y mano with the Uno dude, Josh's gamertag is rather low key: joshuah.

First gesture-based XBLA game still in the dark

I was pretty eager to get my hands, or rather my flapping arms, on Totem Balls, the first  Xbox Live Arcade title to make use of the 360 camera for gesture-based gameplay. Totem Balls has a tropical island theme. You control a little a totem pole-looking character by moving your arms up and down at your sides (a motion that resembles the funky chicken) as he collect balls that balance on his head. Unfortunately, it turns out the still-unpriced Xbox 360 camera has the same studio-like light requirements as the Sony EyeToy, making the game basically unplayable in the dim, romantic glow of the Xbox Live Arcade booth -- much to the chagrin of the Microsoft staff on hand. Despite keeping the gaming press in the dark until the emergency floodlights arrive, they claim it's a superior product.

First impression: Moto GP '06

At the THQ area, they were proudly showing off their incredibly gorgeous Moto GP '06. This title shines bright and controls very well for the Xbox 360. Despite not even being played on a retail console, the demo was enough to satisfy my need for speed.

Continue reading First impression: Moto GP '06

Much a dew about nothing

How disappointing it was to discover this Xbox-360 branded Mountain Dew tanker truck wasn't really filled with sugary green liquid. Apparently, it helps them save on gas.

E3 literally in the bag for Microsoft

Unlike Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft doesn't have much signage outside the LA convention center or in the lobby, choosing instead to pour their efforts into several 18-wheelers worth of booth. However, they did sponsor the swag bags pictured above, ensuring everyone will think of the Xbox 360 when they dump their haul at the end of the day. Shrewd. Ignoring the Joystiq poll slanted by raving Nintendo fanboys, is it now safe to say MS has E3 in the bag?

Grand Theft: MS robs Sony of GTA exclusivity

Console war vets nearly spilled their hot coffee Tuesday morning when Peter Moore's GTA tattoo-baring stunt at Microsoft's E3 keynote was over-zealously interpreted to imply exclusive rights to Grand Theft Auto IV. It quickly became clear that Sony didn't get jacked quite that badly. The first next-gen installment in Rockstar's amazingly popular yet politically touchy series will be released on both consoles simultaneously in October 2007. It's still great news for 360 owners, who won't have to wait an extra 12 months to run over high-polygon hookers. Conversely, it's a potentially signifcant blow to the golden kneecaps of the pricey PS3. Loyal Sony fanboys who go into usurious debt in order to purchase that caviar console would presumably prefer a little alone time with those dead prostitutes, at least until they get their credit card paid off. So much for what was once a major selling point. Sony may not have an edge when it comes to grand thievery, but they still have a license to steal -- from their customers.

Halo 3 trailer: See it again for the first time

Here's the Halo 3 trailer again, embedded for your puny viewing pleasure. If you want more pixels and have no luck with XBLM, try Xboxyde's 720p torrent or Bungie's large Quicktime version. Oh yeah, Bungie reminds the world this baby is real time with an appropriately sarcastic announcement:

Nobody saw it coming. Halo 3! Who knew? For the last year or two, people have speculated about what our next project was and surprisingly, in all that time, not a single person guessed that it would be Halo 3. Not

We declare it the best kept secret ever.

...We won't ruin the content of our short presentation by describing it frame by frame, but we will note that everything you're seeing here is being rendered in real-time on the Xbox 360, using the current version of our Halo 3 game engine. The HDR lighting, self-shadowing, GPU-run particle system and many other effects should make it intact (and more) to our final game.

Worth repeat viewing.

Lost Planet demo lost, but not for long

It looks like the Lost Planet demo was briefly available on XBLM a day earlier than scheduled and then yanked. Photographic proof above. It should be back tomorrow. Gamers who were lucky enough to grab it early, please report your impressions.

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