Walking into the LA Shrine auditorium for the Xbox conference was killer. I mean, I really wanted this to happen. For the last 5 years running, attending press conferences such as this have been such a pain in the ass. They're boring. They talk too long. But a new system press conference is different. The air is charged with electricity. Everyone is buzzing. Everyone is literally freaking. Getting to your seat, you can't help but absorb the energy of everyone in the room. It's that "Meeting your blind date" kind of anticipation. Of course, we all caught a glimpse of her last week, so we know she ain't ugly. But can she hold our attention with beautful conversation? Does she have a nick rack? Does she go all the way? Or is she hot, but really dumb? These questions were going to be answered.

I'll cut to the chase as I have to attend the Sony conference in an hour and I know the Platinum attention spans are all "Where are the codes because they retardly think Platinum is all about codes." Kids.

Since Microsoft has some serious issues in terms of company leakage, most everything interesting about the Xbox 360 was leaked a week or two before the official (and moronic) MTV Special. Since gamers got screwed over in terms of actual content on the MTV show in favor of pimping Xboxes and live performances of bands we don't care about, we assumed that this press conference would make up for it.

It didn't.

We didn't see Halo 3, Perfect Dark Zero or any other killer app stuff although Bethesda's Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Final Fantasy XII looked super smoking hot. Most of the footage we've seen of the games, while impressive - Dead or Alive 4, Project Gotham Racing 3, Ghost Recon 3 etc - doesn't look miles ahead of the current Xbox. It certainly doesn't have that generational leap that we were all expecting. This all may change in a few months time so don't hold me to this.

The biggest thing I felt Microsoft was pushing at the conference, besides the subwoofer speakers ("Bass = FUN!" someone must have told them) was their XBL and Marketplace. The XBL two tiered service was already explained in detail but I did learn one little nugget: XBL Silver users (non-paying) will be allowed to watch online matches without particpating in them. While it's an interesting concept, I think its usage will be truly realized when celebrity matches take place on XBL, and I have a feeling we'll be seeing a fair share of these.

I'm a little worried about the Xbox Marketplace. It would seem that it's Microsoft's way of getting the consumer to shell out more money for extras that used to be included free. Want a new costume? That'll cost you $2. Want a new car? $5. Want infinite health and a level select? Today's special only $9.99. That's a scary prospect. Paying for codes is crazy. Oops. You know what I mean. But if the PS3 version of the game has their extras free of charge and the games look similar, see ya Xbox 360! Gamers aren't stupid you know.

Ultimately the Xbox press conference was a lot like trying to entice a squirrel to come up to you. No sudden movements. The X360 was nothing more than a big juicy nut held out in the hand of Microsoft to get you to come a little closer....little closer....that's it....sniff the nut....that's it... You get my point.

They didn't mention price or release date which pissed me off because thanks to the leaker, I knew all of that other stuff before. It wasn't exactly a waste of time, more like a waste of a room full of kinetic energy. Microsoft could have, should have and would have blown the walls down with some killer info that no one knew, but they played it safe. And playing it safe is something that Microsoft can't afford to do.

By StewXX