E3 07: Microsoft throws gauntlet at press conference

Viva Pinata has party but Mass Effect takes the cake

What's that? You weren't clamoring for Viva Pinata Party Animals, a collection of more than 50 party games starring the most beloved living piñatas on the planet? Neither were we, but we're oldsters with double-digit ages. Maybe the events we saw, which included kart racing, some sort of throwing things at one another, and a race in which the competitors drank soda and burped into the sails of toy sailboats, will appeal to the kiddies who are apparently watching the cartoon.

The new Mass Effect trailer, however, left us gagging for more. The plot is something about an alien tough guy who wants to exterminate humans, and we know the main character gets some liplock in with a babe and many things are blown up. We'll figure it all out this November, apparently.

Above: Santa Monica High School's auditoriumgot a Microsoft makeover for their E3 press conference

Enter the numbers, clip reel #1

It wouldn't be a first-party press conference without some mind-numbing stat crunching. In 2007, game sales will earn more money than music - though, for the record, the record industry is getting decimated by file sharing sites - two thirds of all third-party next-gen titles currently sold are on 360, and 18 third-party 360 games have cracked the top ten since November 06, as opposed to no third-party games on Wii and PS3. And apparently, Microsoft is predicting that Grand Theft Auto IV, Madden 08, and Halo 3 will sell a lot.

Then came the first of many clip reels of the night. A rapid-fire barrage of white-hot gaming future came bashing into our retinas. It looked a lot like this: Project Gotham Racing 4, Dynasty Warriors Gundam, Call of Duty 4, Stranglehold, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Beautiful Katamari , Lost Odyssey, NBA Live 08, Mass Effect, Fatal Inertia, Medal of Honor Airborne, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08, Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation, NHL 08, Assassin's Creed, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe, The Simpsons Game, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction, NASCAR 08, Eternal Sonata, BioShock, Madden NFL 08, Tony Hawk's Proving Ground, Crash of the Titans, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Half-Life 2 Orange Box, The Bee Movie, Rock Band and Naruto: Rise of a Ninja.

All of which, according to Moore, are shipping before the end of the year. This would be the theme of the night: few new announcements (and no price drop), but a constant barrage of imminent gaming goodness.