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Microsoft generates big buzz at E3

Microsoft had the honor of presenting first at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.

The company certainly embraced its position at gaming’s largest event, coming out swinging with a news conference that stole the show. And two days later, when E3 ended, much of the Internet buzz from the conference still revolved around the announcements from that news conference.

A year after announcing a partnership with Netflix, Microsoft delivered more big surprises at E3.

The biggest was the announcement of Project Natal, a motion-detecting peripheral that allows for controller-free gaming. Project Natal could be Microsoft’s answer to the Nintendo Wii. The demo shown at E3 shows Project Natal could appeal to casual gamers.

Much like the Wii, Project Natal could change the way developers create games. This could result in some truly amazing games, but it also could take away from the development of other titles.

While the Wii is innovative and appealing to a mass audience, not many argue Nintendo’s console offers the best games. But it did get the backing of Steven Spielberg, and that guy knows something about entertainment.

Microsoft managed to keep secret a number of projects in addition to Project Natal, which added to the excitement of its news conference.

The company announced its first Metal Gear game, “Metal Gear Rising,” which ends the long-standing exclusive partnership between the game and Sony.

The Xbox 360 will also receive its first entry in the “Final Fantasy” series in 2010.

Microsoft showed footage of the already-announced “Halo 3: ODST,” but also unexpectedly unveiled a new Halo game — “Halo: Reach.”

The company gave an update on “Alan Wake,” a mystery-thriller game that plays like a movie. The game was first shown years ago at E3, but silence has surrounded developments in the game during the past two years. It looks amazing, almost like a “Resident Evil” without zombies.

Also announced were sequels to “Crackdown,” “Left 4 Dead” and “Forza Motorsport 3.”

Microsoft also announced a partnership with Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm, which continues to grow the Xbox 360 as a one-stop entertainment center.

Oh, and Microsoft brought in Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to debut “The Beatles: Rock Band” trailer.

All in all, it was a pretty good week for Microsoft.

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