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Analysis:  Borderlands  Highlights Low Profile Take-Two Conference

Analysis: Borderlands Highlights Low Profile Take-Two Conference Exclusive

July 16, 2008 | By Chris Remo

July 16, 2008 | By Chris Remo
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More: Console/PC, Exclusive

Unlike most other third parties, Take-Two's E3 press conference was invite-only - and while the company had a solid lineup to show, it was almost completely devoid of actual announcements or news.

Right from the start, as chairman Strauss Zelnick took the stage in front of a clean, blue-tinted backdrop, the presentation was much more in line with the typical image of a "press conference" than the week's other publisher showcases.

Executives were sharply dressed in suits and ties, and they stuck steadfastly to the written script from the center podium. It almost seemed that the company was pointedly exhibiting its professionalism and self-sufficiency, in the wake of EA's ongoing bid for the company.

Zelnick kicked off the speech with a reference back to Take-Two's E3 2007 showing, which featured BioShock and Grand Theft Auto IV, both of which went on to massive critical and commercial success. The chairman credited the 1,400 staff at Take-Two's 17 worldwide development studios, and throughout the conference there frequent references to giving developers room to be creative.

"I'm proud to stand before you again this year, knowing we exceeded even our own expectations," Zelnick said. "I'm pleased to tell you that was just an hors d'oeuvre."

Still, the lineup that followed didn't feel all that new - the latest versions in the NHL 2K and NBA 2K sports franchises; Carnival Games: Mini Golf, sequel to the admittedly hugely successful Carnival Games; the upcoming PS3 port of BioShock. One of the conference's few new announcements came with the reveal of exclusive downloadable content for BioShock PS3 in the form of newly-designed "challenge rooms."

"Let's talk a little bit about Rockstar," said CEO Ben Feder, congratulating Rockstar North and Rockstar Games for the launch of GTA4, which as Zelnick pointed out was the "most successful launch of any entertainment product in history."

"How do you follow that?" asked Feder, before rolling a trailer for the newly-announced racer Midnight Club: Los Angeles - not necessarily the type of answer one might have expected. As at Nintendo's conference, only a logo was shown for Rockstar Leeds' DS exclusive Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the show - and the most enthusiastic presenter - came with Gearbox's Borderlands and company president Randy Pitchford. In the lengthiest gameplay demonstration of the event, Pitchford and other Gearbox developers showed off the Mad Max-inspired shooter's cooperative mode and - perhaps fortuitously given the gamer excitement over Blizzard's recent announcement - an extremely Diablo-esque experience and random item-generating system.

"These guys are committed not only to quality and creativity, but also to what the market wants," said famously business-minded Pitchford on why his studio signed with Take-Two's 2K Games label.

All in all, Take-Two's lineup was solid, and Borderlands drove some much-needed crowd enthusiasm, but as a presentation, it was much like this week's other offerings - that is, few real surprises.

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