E3: 2012 - Microsoft Xbox 2012 Media Briefing Recap

by: Matt -
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Welcome to the first of many E3 press conference recaps. First up we've got Microsoft with their Xbox E3 2012 Media Briefing at the Galen Center in downtown Los Angeles. 
  • It wouldn't be a Microsoft event without something Halo related, so to kick off the show a rather impressive CG trailer for Halo 4 was shown, detailing the first peaceful USNC launch. A live gameplay demo followed, showcasing some rather impressive looking jungle locales. After a brief skirmish with some Covenant, Master Chief is introduced to a new non-organic threat that Cortana muses is definitely not the Covenant. These creatures are able to warp around the player and turn a player's weapons against them, as was demonstrated when a flying drone type enemy caught a plasma grenade and flung it back at the player. There was some short demonstration of a heat-vision mechanic as the demo wrapped, with a launch date of November 6th, 2012.
  • Don Mattrick was on hand to inform us that the Xbox 360 is the number one selling console worldwide, though without much data to back that, so on to more games. Up next, Splinter Cell Blacklist, bringing Sam Fisher back in to Third Echelon as they attempt to take down the Blacklist, a terror cell that is composed of multiple factions that Fisher will have to infiltrate to stop their attacks. A new feature called 'Killing In Motion' was unveiled, which like the Mark & Execute gameplay from Conviction, allows Fisher to mark targets and kill them while moving through areas, allowing for a smooth, silent, and efficient progression. Blacklist was also the first game to show off some Kinect features, allowing players to use their voice to distract guards and communicate with Third Echelon to call in airstrikes. Splinter Cell Blacklist is on track for a Spring 2013 release.
  • EA's Andrew Wilson took the stage to introduce us to the latest installments of Madden and FIFA that make use of Kinect. FIFA 2013 with Kinect allows users to make voice commands, change formations and execute plays without the need for a controller. Joe Montana was brought on stage to demonstrate for Madden 2013, calling plays at the line, directing players, and making audibles. FIFA will be available in the Fall, while Madden will be in stores on August 28th, 2012.
  • A short trailer for Fable: The Journey was shown next, giving the impression of a first person experience with Kinect controls that didn't look too far off from the Sony title, Sorcery.
  • Phil Spencer was the next presenter, showing off two trailers, first, a new title in the Gears of War franchise, titled Gears of War: Judgment. Showing nothing much in the way of gameplay, and a nebulous release window of 2013, there's plenty of time to show off something interesting. Forza: Horizon on the other hand, looks incredible. Giving off an open world vibe with the organization of racing events, it's trailer showcased some great looking locales and what looked to be real-time changes between day and night, a first for the series. Forza: Horizon will be available on October 23rd, 2012.
  • Up next, a bit of a numbers game from Yusuf Medhi, over 200 million shows, movies, and songs have been added to Xbox Live over the past year, and now the ability to search via genre is being added to the Bing service. Users are also able to use more content providers than ever, citing Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Xfinity as just some of the options users have to enjoy their favorite media. With over 30 new content partners, Microsoft unveiled Nickelodeon, Paramount, Machinima, and Univision as just a few of the new content partners with Xbox. Sports content will be expanding, with NBA Game Time, NHL Game Center, and ESPN adding more content making it possible to enjoy 24-hour programming. Xbox Music was also debuted and will bring 30 million tracks to Windows 8, tablet, and phone users in the coming months.
  • Kinect users who enjoy a good workout will be happy to know the Microsoft has teamed up with Nike, to bring Nike+ Kinect Training to Xbox users this holiday season, giving users a workout regimen and feedback that is normally reserved for elite athletes.
  • One of the more interesting parts of the show, was the debut of Xbox Smart Glass, a tool that allows users to enjoy their content at their own pace. A demonstration of a movie being transferred between a tablet and an Xbox made for a seamless experience, and while the movie was playing, information was shared on the tablet device. Smart Glass allows players of Madden to change plays on the fly, and draw up their own plays. A short demo for Halo, showed players receiving information on the Halo franchise and accepting game invites. Xbox users can also use Smart Glass to control Internet Explorer, when both come to Xbox this fall.
  • Darrell Gallagher and Daniel Bisson of Crystal Dynamics had a short yet brutal gameplay demo of the Tomb Raider reboot, showing off combat in the midst of a cliff side locale that Lara struggles to traverse, fighting some heavily armed enemies with only a bow and arrow and some stealth kills, and ending with a rough ride down a river showcasing some bullet time effects. It seems like Lara has taken a page from the Nathan Drake school of being unable to catch a break, as she was battered and beaten in this short demo, honestly, I'd expect a parachute to fail on Nathan, not Lara Croft, and watching her slam in to trees was really painful to watch. The first DLC for Tomb Raider will be exclusive to Xbox when in launches next year.
  • Phil Spencer returned to the stage to show a few new IPs that will be launching in the near future. First up was a brief trailer for Ascend: New Gods, a new 3rd-person action game from Signal Studios, looking a bit like a mix between God of War and Shadow of the Colossus it launches in 2013. Next was a brief trailer for LocoCycle, a new title from Twisted Pixel, showing very little outside of a very sleek looking bike with Tron inspired visuals. Lastly was the reveal of Matter, a title from Pirates of the Caribbean director, Gore Verbinski, which looked like Marble Madness 2013, and will be released in the next year.
  • Hiroyuki Kobayashi and Ichiro Sasaki from Capcom were up next with some gameplay of Resident Evil 6, showing off some interesting new gameplay mechanics such as tactical rolls, wall covers, and more cinematic kills than ever. The China locale offered a different backdrop compared to past games. Capcom also revealed that DLC for Resident Evil 6 will debut first on Xbox 360.
  • Alex Ruiz of Microsoft showed a new Kinect title for Xbox Live called Wreckateer. The game gave off an Angry Birds vibe, having players take control of a ballista, launching a variety of explosives at castles full of goblins. It will launch this summer.
  • Up next was a short trailer for South Park: The Stick of Truth, with an appearance from Trey Parker and Matt Stone who had their fun poking at how the press conference had gone so far, and detailing some of their production process for the game. The quest to become the fifth wheel in the crew will launch on March 5th, 2013.
  • Harmonix had a modest showing for Dance Central 3, bringing Usher out to perform his new song 'Scream,' which will be included in the song list. Very little was shown on the gameplay front, but it can be assumed that those familiar with past games will be able to pick this game up when it launches later this year.
  • Don Mattrick returned to close out the show with a preview of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The gameplay demo showed a war-torn future downtown Los Angeles under siege by drones and enemy fighters. The president is being rushed to a shelter as all hell has broken loose. There's still plenty of orders barked at the player, but man did that future Los Angeles look amazing, and the ride in the FA-38 looked like a lot of fun. Don Mattrick also announced that DLC content will launch first on Xbox.
All in all it was a decent showing for Microsoft, the amount of established franchises on display really overshadowed anything new that they had to show which was disappointing. Hopefully this sequelitis doesn't cary through to the other shows.
We'll have more coverage of E3 as the week goes on!
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