E3 2012: Microsoft Overview

Microsoft Has a Few Tricks Up Their Sleeves

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for gamers with Monday kicking off E3.  Microsoft’s press conference this year was full of exclusives and details on how the Xbox 360 will be expanding into the future. Sure there were some cliche moments between the announcements surrounding Kinect and Dance Central 3 but there was also some very interesting moments for the hard core gamers as well. Some of these moments included a Gears of War reveal, Black Ops II footage and Splinter Cell Blacklist footage and gameplay. Here is a rundown of the Microsoft E3 Press Conference and if you missed the confrence you can check out the video here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYvQu00t75w
Gamespot’s Feed for Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference

Halo 4

The new installment of Halo 4 looks intense. The conference opened up with footage from the new game as well as a little live action trailer. A ship from the UNSC is sent off into the new frontier in peaceful enterprise. Then footage of the gameplay begane

Gameplay Footage

Opening Scene

New Enemy

New Light Gun Scope

New Infrared Scope

As a UNSC ship falls from the sky Master Chief sees some kind of space ship. The space ship is a large red ball that my friends and I joked about it looking like a big red soccer ball. From here on the joking stopped. The HUD in the gameplay looks amazing. Parts of the helmet are seen on the outsides of the HUD looking like you are really looking through the helmet of Master Chief. A new hostile shows up in the E3 gameplay that is not familiar. However the familiar voice of Cortana says the new enemy is not Covenant or Organic. We also see a new type of gun. A forerunner light gun, DRM like rifle, and a Forerunner spread shot shotgun. The gameplay trailer ends with Master Chief being knocked unconscious after showing a new visor that can see infrared to find enemies. The gameplay shown in the E3 Video is intense, colorful and sure to please Halo fans. I look forward to getting to know Halo 4 very intimately as more news comes out.

Halo 4 Goodies

Splinter Cell Black List

One of my favorite pieces of news from Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference was the gameplay footage and information about Splinter Cell Black List. The video opens with Sam Fisher disguised as a terrorist operative carrying an injured terrorist. From here the Gameplay footage gets interesting. The new splinter cell game will feature a dynamic tagging system. The system allows for players to feel like a bad ass, tagging players, and executing take downs efficiently.

That’s killing in motion. When you’ve mastered Sam’s abilities you can move smoothly through the environment while taking out targets quickly and fluidly. – Ubisoft Reps

The tagging motion helps you move through what used to be frustrating encounters in Splinter Cell. The usual tools are available for Sam with a few advancements. The gameplay footage shows an under the door cam. The cam allows for tagging and entry to make sure that you only kill enemies and not the person you want to capture.  The Kinect on Xbox 360 will be able to act like the whistle sound in past games. Telling someone to come over to you and taking them out might be fun. From the trailer it also looked like players can call in air strikes and interact with HQ. The video ends with Sam killing the person he is supposed to extract and interrogate.

Splinter Cell Blacklist Goodies

Box Art

Screen Shot

Trailer Pic

A new device?

Under a truck

Looking bad ass

Looking bad ass more!

Can’t wait!

EA Sports: FIFA and Madden Better With Kinect?

EA Sports always makes a big showing during the Microsoft Confrence and this year was no different. The new focus for EA Sports was Kinect and voice support. EA showed how in the new FIFA game many of the options that would require a menu, like substituting and play calling, can actually be done in game with Kinect. During the Madden demo EA Sports brought the big guns in and had Joe Montana join them. Joe Montana showed the ease of calling audibles and directing players with voice controls. The Kinect may be seen as a toy by many hard core gamers, but if I can call out audibles and make menu changes that would normally take me out of the experience easily then I’m all for giving it at least a try.

EA Sports Goodies

Tackle Physics

More Tackle Physics

Fable The Journey


The trailer for the new edition of fable shows fireballs and other magic being thrown out of the player’s hands. There was footage from the game but none of the footage really showed to much. Trailers are fine and dandy, but this game has already been announced in the past. I thought for sure I would be watching at least 15 minutes of people throwing themselves around the conference stage to avoid Balverines and skeleton monsters. Maybe Microsoft learned a thing or two from the Kinect Sports debauchery that was last years football demo.

Fable The Journey Goodies

Skeleton

Fire Hands

Balverine

Xbox Exclusives Trailers

Phil Spencer @E3

The conference then turned it’s eyes on games being worked on exclusively for Xbox 360. Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Studios, expressed his joy:

Every day I have the pleasure of working with some of the world’s best development talent. Studios like 343, Lionhead, Turn 10 and Epic Games. These are the creative forces behind our biggest franchises.

Phil then turned everyone’s attention to the big screen to show off some trailers for upcoming Xbox 360 exclusives. Cheers could be heard in the crowd while some of the most well known Xbox 360 exclusives where showing with never before seen trailers.

Gears of War Judgment Trailer

The world premier trailer of the new Gears of War Game did not disappoint but left me wanting so much more. Boot stomping Locust and a smirk from Baird Looked amazing on the big screen. The trailer was intense, but no gameplay was actually shown. It was a pure CG pre-made video. Also the release date was a very vague, being sometime in 2013. I know Gears of War 3 came out not even a year ago but I love me some Gears

Gears of War Judgment Goodies

Burning City

Giant Smirk from Baird

 Forza Horizon Trailer

Now with more Wub Wub, the trailer for Forza Horizon was full of speed. The new Forza game brings high intensity racing onto more off road tracks. Beutiful cars with great physics made the trailer reek of speed and intensity.The trailer also revealed a little bit more relaxed style of events. The events gave almost a festival atmosphere. Forza will, dare I say it, drive into stores on October 23rd this year.

Forza Horizon Goodies

Speed

Night Racing

Hood Shot

Festival Shot

Xbox Entertainment & SmartGlass

Xbox 360 is expanding it’s entertainment section. Kinect will soon be able to finally understand other languages and other accents so that American English is not the only standard. During the presentation a Kinect that was able to understand Spanish was demoed. Brovo Microsoft, you are a little bit less racist then before.

Next in the Entertainment presentation it was announced that Nickelodeon, Paramount Movies and Machinima apps will bring more media to the Xbox 360. Then Yusuf Medhi, Head of Microsoft Entertainment, revealed how the Xbox 360 will soon be a sports hub. NBA Game Time league pass, NHL Game Center and a 24/7 ESPN live programing where all announced. All of the ESPN channels and programming will be available in HD. One thing I am personally going to love was the addition of Monday Night Football.

One of the more confusing things revealed a the Microsoft Conference was the Xbox Music announcement. Looking very similar to the Zune service that Microsoft already has, Xbox music was featured for the Xbox 360, Windows 8 Tablets, Windows 8 PCs and Windows Phones.

In an unprecedented move from the usual, Microsoft announced a new service that will be available for Windows 8 devices, iPod, iPad and Android Devices. Xbox SmartGlass will allow devices to act as a controller and a window into more content while you are watching movies and listening to music. The service looks like it will also be a streaming service so you can watch Microsoft content on other devices.

The service will also be able to interact with games. During the reveal they showed video of someone manipulating plays and actually controlling an EA Sports football game. They also showed a tablet being a Halo Waypoint book. This allowed a player to see data about the single player campaign. The Xbox SmartGlass video also showed a push notification that allowed a player to connect to Halo Multiplayer as soon as one of their friends joined a game.

Using Xbox SmartGlass as a controller for internet content seems to also be an option. With a reveal of Internet Explorer onto the Xbox 360 the demonstrator was able to enter text, navigate the browser and select content with his Windows phone. With the browser you supposedly can watch videos and see content on websites.

Xbox Entertainment Goodies

Media on the go.

SmartGlass in games.

Browser coming for Xbox 360.

Nike +

Some people are turned off by fitness games for the Kinect. Fitness games for me are one of the only reasons that I have a Kinect though. They seem to be the only thing that actually works most of the time reliably. Nike announced a new Fitness game that can track improvement inside and outside the Xbox 360. Constant feedback that is allowed by the Kinect will keep players pushing farther. The Nike spokesperson also mentioned competitive play. Competitive feedback might push players to do one more push up, one more lunge or one more squat. Nike + will be available for Xbox 360 holiday season 2012.

Nike + Goodies

Push ups tracked in real time.

Performance review in game.

Tomb Raider Gameplay


New Gameplay was shown for the new Tomb Raider game. The trailer shows Lara Croft shooting enemies with a Bow and a shotgun. The graphics of the gameplay footage looked amazing. Explosions from fire arrows and bullets looked dynamic and realistic. The gameplay was frantic and survival like putting Laura in dangerous situations in high speed scenes. If your wondering why Tomb Raider was making such a big showing at Microsoft’s conference it was made clear at the end. DLC for Tomb Raider will be available first on Xbox 360.

Tomb Raider Goodies

Screen 1

Screen 2

Screen 3

Screen 4

Screen 5

Screen 6

Screen 7

Screen 8

Downloadable Games Showcase

Three new downloadable games where announced and trailers where shown. Most of these trailers where early announcements and not much is really known about these titles to date. More is sure to be shown later this week during E3

Ascend: New Gods

This new game looks like a fantasy adventure title. Right before the trailer it was announced it will have asynchronous play. They didn’t say what this was across though. The video showed a hero climbing huge monsters and slashing with blood and gore spurting out everywhere. This new downloadable game will be available in 2013

LocoCycle

Not really sure what this game is about but it is in the trusted hands of Twisted Pixel. A female voice narrates the trailer and seems to be listing of the specs of a motorcycle. No gameplay footage was shown but hopefully more will be shown on the E3 floor later this week.

Matter

A new puzzle game features an orb that you can control. In all honesty it almost looked like a marble madness game from way back in the day. The game looked very interesting, and then it showed that it was made for Kinect. Hopefully the game will use Kinect in a new and interesting way bringing players into the game. If it is a balance game I think the trailer is way overselling the product.

Resident Evil 6

Gameplay footage was shown finally for Evil 6. The gameplay starts with a burning city, zombies all around and a helicopter shooting at the famous Resident Evil character Leon. In the gameplay demo Leon is diving and rolling around on the ground showing a more fluid movement mechanic then ever available in the Resident Evil franchise. The game looks gory and somehow pretty at the same time. When a grenade exploded, blowing up 5 or so zombies apart, different pieces scattered all across the environment.

The story element to the campaign in the section shown was very pronounced. Communications over radio where constantly giving the game a driving factor that was entertaining. Quick time events where shown to shake off enemies and interact with the environment to keep Leon and partner alive. The giant logo flashed on the screen at the end of the gameplay section accomponied by an excited crowd.

Resident Evil 6 Goodies

Bike

Dark Atmosphere

Leon on the ground shooting

Shooting Art

Arm’s messed up dude.

More over-the-shoulder shooting

Wreckateer

Ehhh…. Logo? I guess? It may be good but it’s not for me.

To be honest with you this game was not something I was paying to much attention to. The gameplay looked like a Kinect enabled advanced version of Angry Birds. The game may be enjoyable but is probably not a title I am going to run out and purchase right away when it releases this summer.

Wreckateer Goodies? Nah… If you want more wreckateer yell at me in the comments!

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Digital Studios Logo

A new trailer was released for the new South Park RPG game that is called The Stick of Truth. The trailer made the game look almost exactly like watching an episode of south park. You play the new kid in town fighting along side familiar South Park Characters.

Trey Parker & Matt Stone made an appearance at the conference. They actually made fun of the Xbox SmartGlass technology speech that presented earlier. Their candid presentation without teleprompters was a nice break from monotone-ish presentations. Trey & Matt talked about how they are instrumental in the making of the game with voices and actual design input.

South Park Goodies

South Park Character

Town

Concept Battle

More Combat

More Combat

Usher at E3.

Dance Central 3

The Dance Central 3 section of Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference opened with a performance from Usher. A video showed Usher talking about how he had direct input into the dance moves that where put in for his songs in the game. Although the crowd didn’t react how he would have liked when he yelled “get up” at 10 in the morning, I think think the presentation was effective. Usher showed off real game moves while footage of the game played in the background. Plus he did not lip sing.

Again I was expecting a lot more time spent on presentations for Kinect games. However after Usher was done with his song that seemed to be the end of the announcement for Dance Central 3. Although Usher might have been a little bit cheesy or out of place the presentation could have been worse. I was just happy I didn’t have to see game developers and crew flopping around on stage to demonstrate the third iteration of a well known game.

Dance Central 3 Goodies

Clubbing in the living room.

Street Venue

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Not a show stopper but a good show ender.

In a smart move and A great way to end the Microsoft E3 Press Conference Microsoft debuted gameplay footage of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The graphics for faces in particular looked amazing compared to some of the rubbery faces that where featured in other Call of Duty games. Portions of slow down in the campaign showed off the graphical of the new Call of Duty game. Explosions looked large and had a major effect on the player.

The weapons shown off in the gameplay looked really interesting as well. They where futuristic and different from anything seen in Call of Duty before. The first gun shot was a sniper rifle that could charge and shoot through objects. The scope of the sniper rifle allowed the player to see through walls and cement pillars as well to make the gun very effective.

The gameplay trailer skipped ahead in the campaign. A new gadget was shown that allows players to target areas and have mini helicopters shoot at either objects or enemies. Controlling these helpful copters did seem a little annoying making the demonstrator constantly select targets to keep them moving forward. Hopefully these copters will follow you and have some auto AI that will make them more of a helper and less of a hindrance.

The demonstration then moved into the air. A portion where players will be able to fly a futuristic jet showed an almost semi on rails experience with the illusion of control. Will this mean that there may be an addition of vehicles to Black Ops 2 multiplayer? Complete speculation and conjecture on my part but it would be an interesting gameplay mechanic to add to a multiplayer experience that is starting to, lets face it, get stale.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Goodies

Sniper in Singapore

Looking down the sights for the first time.

Drone play looks interesting.

Drone up close.

Another drone shot

Harper Pic

Overview

Overall I feel that there where some cool stuff that was shown at Microsoft’s E3 presentation. I expected to be bored with tons of the time being taken up by Kinect noise. Fortunately most of the conference was actually about games made for gamers. The stuff they showed from Halo 4, Black Ops 2, Splinter Cell and some of the downloadable stuff looked very interesting. The SmartGlass technology, while not directly related to games, also looked interesting and thankfully will be available on all major platforms of tablets and smart phones. While the presentation was not the most exciting E3 conference ever, I do believe Microsoft did have a positive showing. At least it wasn’t Kinect football.

What did you guys think of Microsoft’s showing? Are you excited by any of the new game footage? Or do you think that Microsoft Dropped the ball. Hit us up in the comments!


Ryan McBride is a news editor for Gaming Heroes who looks to give a different side of the story. Hit him up on facebook, twitter, and read all of his articles on Tumblr.