E3 06: Microsoft booth rides new wave of games

Xbox 360s, Vista galore as company shows off upcoming lineup; funky kiosks, green ambience abound, but Xboxes barely invited.

LOS ANGELES--Microsoft may not have a brand-spanking-new console to show off at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, but that doesn't mean E3 attendees didn't flock to see what the M-machine had to show off. The Xbox 360 is almost six months old, and many of the console's "second-generation" games are gearing up for a holiday season showdown with the launches of Nintendo's Wii and Sony's PlayStation 3.

Microsoft was once again stationed in the rear of the South Hall, near third-party companies like Ubisoft and Blizzard. The front portion of its space was wide open, with meeting rooms and private screening rooms located in a makeshift building in the rear.

Microsoft has been fond of making untraditional gaming kiosks for its events, and this year's E3 hosted some of the most bizarre yet. The Xbox 360 was obviously the main attraction of the booth, but Microsoft's new line of PC games also took up a surprisingly sizable chunk of space. The Xbox was very scarce--THQ's Destroy All Humans! 2 and Stacked with Daniel Negreanu were among the few current-gen titles.

As for next-gen games, several were on hand to play. Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, Prey, F.E.A.R., Chromehounds, Ninety-Nine Nights, Madden NFL 07, Too Human, Splinter Cell: Double Agent, and Crackdown all made appearances.

The side of the booth showcased some of the 360's hardware, including several limited-edition faceplates. Some were skinned with Microsoft's Zero Hour launch party event, while others had French house duo Daft Punk's logos all over it.

Gamers also got their first glimpse at some of the new Xbox 360 peripherals. The external HD-DVD player, which debuted at Tuesday's Microsoft pre-E3 conference, shared a display case with the deluxe remote control for the system. In a neighboring case, the wireless, force-feedback steering wheel was held aloft by wires, and next to that were an Xbox 360 controller, the wireless Ethernet adapter, the Bluetooth headset, and a wireless receiver, which makes Xbox 360 gear compatible with PCs.

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