X06 News Wrap: Microsoft Announces Multiple Halo Titles, Splinter Cell Exclusive, Marvel MMO, and the $200 HD-DVD Drive

Microsoft struck back today at their X06 media briefing in Barcelona, Spain revealing a plethora of Xbox 360 announcements, chief among them being a flood of exclusive content for their next-gen console. Third-party announcements at the briefing alone show a strong content library for the 360 for the foreseeable future: Rockstar Games and Take Two Interactive will be offering two downloadable expansion episodes to their upcoming sequel Grand Theft Auto IV exclusively through Xbox Live, the fifth entry in Ubisoft’s stealth action series Splinter Cell will only appear on Xbox 360, and 2K games refuted reports that their shooter Bioshock would be appearing on multiple consoles at launch, reaffirming that Microsoft’s console will be the only one receiving the title. On top of these major announcements, it was revealed that Microsoft Game Studios is working alongside Cryptic Studios, the creators of City of Heroes, on a massively multiplayer online game entitled Marvel Universe Online, which will star characters from the Marvel comic book pantheon.

The biggest news at the event was the unveiling of multiple entries in Microsoft’s seminal franchise, Halo. Ensemble Studios, the creators of Age of Empires, are working on a real-time strategy title based in the Halo universe called Halo Wars. A brief trailer was shown but no actual gameplay was featured. Most surprising however was the announcement that none other than Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, who is producing a Halo feature film, is establishing his own games studio in a partnership with Microsoft Games Studios. Called Wingnut Interactive, Jackson’s studio will be working directly with Bungie on an entirely new Halo title, quite possibly Halo 4.

Microsoft’s one hardware announcement was that their HD-DVD drive for the Xbox 360 will be released in November 2006 and retail for $199.99. The drive will come packed with the HD-DVD version of Peter Jackson’s King Kong.

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