‘Tis the season to be jolly, E3 2012 is finally upon us and Microsft opened the expo with their conference. Here I will be running down the major announcements, news and trailers that were showcased at the conference.
The conference opened immediately with a live action mini film about Halo 4, where UNSC (United Nations Space Council) have commissioned a ship to be an exploratory vessel but the vessel is sucked into some sort of portal. From there the mini film segues to animation and we get a close look at Master Chief. Following this there is some stunning game play where Master Chief tries to battle his way to the downed ship, but is stopped by a new, non-organic enemy. Definitely off to a good start for Microsoft.
Following Halo 4 came a very dramatic cinematic trailer and gameplay of Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Terrorists have created a “black list” ultimatum of escalating attacks. Their demands- leave our country or we bring the war to you. The gameplay was very impressive, with very fluid silent take downs that are so familiar to any Splinter Cell fan. During the demo they also showed how voice commands can be used with the Kinect to interact with the game, yelling “hey you” will bring an inquisitive terrorist to be thrown from a rooftop. Overall Splinter Cell: Blacklist looks very promising, especially with the Kinect integration and is available Spring 2013.
EA Sports then took the stage and introduced Fifa 13 and the Kinetc abilities. Kinect can be used to organise your team as well as the ability to communicate with the referee. Madden 13 was then the next port of call, with an appearence Joe Montana. Montana gave the voice commands that can be used with Madden 13.
The next game shown was Fable: The Journey, but only briefly. The wind was firmly taken out of Fable’s sails when these words were uttered “Let’s start with a world premier trailer of the latest edition of the Gears of War saga”. Titled “Gears of War Judgment” (not sure whether that was an intentional spelling or just a mistake) the trailer looked pretty impressive. Any game that had to follow that announcement had an uphill battle to fight and that game was Forza: Horizon, due to be released October 23rd 2012. Although I doubt it had anyone leaping out their seats, Horizon look like a particularly good racing game, something driving fans should look out for.
Next was a demo of the new voice commands you can use to navigate through media such as films. By saying “Bing Sci-Fi” you will be directed to the library of Sci-Fi films. Also announced was the addition of Nickolodean, Paramount movies, Machimina as well Spanish language programming. There will now also be coverage of NHL, NBA and baseball games. Live ESPN programmes will also be available 24/7. Also announced was the new music service “Xbox Music” which will be released on Xbow 360 as well as Windows 8 products. And for you fitness fans Nike+ Kinect training is coming to Xbox 360 which will be released holiday 2012.
The next major announcement was “Xbox Smart Glass” which allows for co-operation between all your smart products (phones, tablets etc). The example given was the ability to start watching a movie on your tablet then, with one touch, continue watching where you left off on your tv. Smart glass also pushes information about whatever your watching onto your tablet or smart phone, so you can have “rich information” available any time. In less exciting news they announced Internet Explorer is coming to Xbox 360. The less said on that the better.
Then it was back to video games with an impressive show case of Tomb Raider. Debuted was an action sequence from later in the game and it was truly epic. Lara seems more realistic than ever, skulking behind walls with only a bow and arrow to level the score against thugs with guns. This new instalment in the age old franchise looks particularly brutal, with Lara setting guys on fire and shooting arrows in their…knees. Also announced was DLC that will be available exclusively to Xbox 360 owners.
Following the impressive demo of Tomb Raider were three world premier trailers of new titles. First was Ascend New Gods from Signal Studios, a third-person hack and slash. Second was Loco Cycle from Twisted Pixel, however the brevity of the trailer meant that it was almost impossible to tell what it was about. Lastly was a very futuristic looking puzzle platformer called Matter.
These smaller announcements were then quickly shadowed by a demo of Resident Evil 6. Perhaps the biggest thing about this demo is that you can now run and shoot at the same time. The demo showed Leon taking down zombies in pretty brutal fashion as well as the games eerie setting. Resident Evil 6 looks promising and hopefully will be the series saviour after the abysmal failure of Raccoon City. Following the zombie apocalypse of Resident Evil was an Xbox Live exclusive called Wreckateer where, with the aid of Kinect, you level castles and towers with a variety of cannons and missiles. It will be released on Xbox Live this summer. The two following announcements were for the long awaited South Park game The Stick of Truth as well as Dance Central 3.
The closing announcement was a demo of Call of Duty Black Ops 2. The demo was not short of dramatic one liners and slow motion explosions as you had to escort the President to safety while under attack from drones. The demo proved that perhaps we were too quick to judge Black Ops 2 on its less-than-complimenting debut trailer and looks to be the most refreshing instalment in the Call of Duty franchise in a very long time.
Although this was not Microsoft’s best E3 to date, demos of highly anticipated games such Tomb Raider, Halo 4 and Black Ops 2 should mean that fans won’t be deserting the Microsoft ship just yet.
Make sure you check out our coverage of Sony’s press conference here.