Elsewhere on Microsoft's stand, N3: Ninety-Nine Nights, a joint project being developed by Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Q Entertainment and Phantagram, was quite impressive. Essentially, it's Dynasty Warriors to the power of three: more action, better gameplay, and more stylish visuals. (Dynasty Warriors 5 was just over the aisle from N3, but the queues for N3 were understandably much longer -- Koei's game seems decent but unspectacular.) It took 45 minutes to complete the playable demo of Ninety-Nine Nights, and in that time the highest combo recorded was almost a 700-hitter. The sheer scale of the action here is incredible, with hundreds of highly detailed and well-animated characters on the screen. However, there was some slowdown evident on a few occasions. Textures and lighting effects are thrown over the scene to give us a very glossy game. We'll be keeping our eye on this one to see how it turns out.
Another highlight from Microsoft's stand was the aforementioned Chromehounds, set in dusty virtual ghost towns where mechs roam. It had been demonstrated earlier in video form, but in its playable guise, it was every bit as dramatic. Chromehounds used the headset and Xbox Live to provide squad-based interaction.
On the Xbox 360 starting grid, Need for Speed Underground pulled up alongside Test Drive Unlimited. NFS looks the part and feels right, but Test Drive was a jerky mess riddled with frame-rate drops. In fact, players deserted Test Drive in pure dismay as the game staggered and stuttered to a halt. There was no way it should even have been on display, let alone presented in (barely) playable form. It was quite embarrassing.
Full Auto isn't driving on the same road as those games: Sega's weapon-equipped, driving/shooting hybrid looks like a riot. The online possibilities could turn Full Auto into a Live-enabled Vigilante 8 rebirth. Which would be interesting.
Dead or Alive 4 was shown privately and looked like a logical leap forwards from DOA3. The potential for up to 16 players to meet in a virtual lobby before online fights - where they can chat and arrange upcoming bouts - was particularly interesting. From a Japanese standpoint, DOA3 was the only essential Xbox title and by far the biggest seller in Xbox Mk.1's brief life here. DOA4 looks set to do exactly the same thing for Xbox 360.
Even considering Tecmo's title, the Metal Gear Solid 4 demo at Sony's PS3 stand easily took the award for the most technically impressive game at TGS by a very long way, while Xbox 360 merely offered an excellent upgrade of the existing Xbox Live service, but little else. Unless Microsoft courts more Japanese developers who are serious about bringing major exclusives, Xbox 360 will struggle in Japan just as the original Xbox did last time around.