The Microsoft Xbox preview held two days prior to E3 started off in a rather mysterious fashion. A giant 'X' was projected onto a glowing green wire frame ball and odd ambient noise helped unsettle the already hyped crowd. A generous amount of dry ice also added to the tension. Finally the Xbox 'boot sequence sound' kicked in on a massive sound system and the show was under way. A large portion of the crowd greeted every word said with completely over the top whooping and hollering, I'm not sure if this is typical American behaviour, or if that's just where the guys from the Official Xbox magazine were sitting.

The first speaker was Robbie Bach (Chief Xbox Officer) who gave a brief run-down of the sales statistics (which were fairly amero-centric) and did some comparisons with Nintendo and Sony's sales. Most of the financial/business information didn't interest me as I had just stepped off a twelve hour flight. However Mr Bach did make some interesting comments about how Microsoft did not regard the Xbox as an 'experiment' and that they are in the business for the long haul. Enough of this business malarky though ... onto the games!

After a rather cheddar flavoured introduction Ed Fries (Vice President of Xbox Game Content) stepped out to take the exciting job of showing off the upcoming titles for Xbox. Before he got onto that he took some time to thank the developers who are working with the Xbox and pointed out the ones who were in the audience. This exclusive crowd included Tim Schafer, Atsushi Inaba, Yuji Naka, Peter Molyneux, Tim Sweeney, Gabe Newell, Jason Jones and more! Phew. After this, a pretty exhaustive list of upcoming XBox titles was shown. It was all to quick for this poor soul to note them all down so I'll stick with my impressions of the 'big' games.

An good looking platformer with a novel twist. The central character can control time.This allows him (he's a cat I think) to fast forward, slow down and even reverse time.

Knights of the Old Republic
This got a huge roar. Unfortunately the footage didn't look new. It still looked great but for those who have been following its development there were no surprises here.

Panzer Dragoon Orta
Visually stunning. Another game that received a huge WOOP! from the crowd. Hard to evaluate how playable it is of course but it definitely looked incredible.

Sega GT 2002
Unfortunately this did not look that good. I'm sure that the playable versions on the show floor will impress but the footage they chose for the presentation did not really show the game off.

Dead To Rights
Namco's Max Payne-esque game has come along way since last years E3. Only a few seconds were shown but it looked very stylish.

Ninja Gaiden
Another graphically stunning show stopper. Again playability could be an issue as it is hard to imagine yourself controlling what was shown (A ninja leaping off walls and slicing and dicing soldiers).

Project Ego
You should know the score on this one by now. It blew Barty and I away last year and single handedly saved the show for the Xbox. You will buy an Xbox to play this game.

And finally, the show stopper, the game that got the biggest roar (is it a joke?) ...

Dead or Alive Extreme Volleyball
Yes you read correctly. It only flicked up for a few seconds but it was definitely there. The voluptuous maidens of Dead Or Alive playing beach volleyball. Only in America ... or Japan I guess.

Continued on next page...