E3 kicked off today, and Microsoft took advantage of its early keynote presentation to show off a ton of new games and features for the Xbox 360. The biggest news for the very near future is that they're releasing a smaller, revamped version of the console, with immediate availability. It's black, it comes with a 250GB HDD and built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi support, and it's priced at $299. Microsoft also put a release date on Kinect, the motion control scheme formerly known as Project Natal: November 4 in the US. It will launch with 15 games, mostly casual-oriented, several of which were demonstrated on-stage. Many new Kinect features were shown as well, such as the dashboard interface, video chat (with support for playing movies both parties can watch), and a partnership with ESPN to provide live and on-demand sports, all controllable with hand gestures and voice commands. (It presently includes college football and basketball, soccer, the NBA, and MLB.) Also notable is a partnership with LucasArts for a Kinect Star Wars game, a fitness game from Ubisoft, and a Forza racing game that uses Kinect and allows players to inspect the cars with an impressive level of detail. Engadget's liveblog of the event has a bunch of pictures from the demonstrations, or you can read a more detailed play-by-play at Ars.
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