Here’s a quick rundown of Microsoft’s press conference from today’s first full day of E3….and here is a link to the Press Conference video.
The press conference opened with a trailer for a visually stunning Halo 4. Master Chief returns to the franchise and sees a covenant ship above him. That is followed by a giant ball with an internal orange glow. It leads to showing a brand new species of enemy. They crawl fast and feature what appears to be teleportation, invisibility and new weapons. Hopefully this is MUCH less annoying than the flood from previous iterations of the game.
During the trailer, we got a look at actual game play. It featured the new species causing Master Chief to lose his weapons for a brief time. We got to see him punch the enemy with his armor covered hand.
A “Light rifle” was left by this species and the game play showcased the player using it. It ended with Master Chief using infrared vision to see over 20 enemies crawling around.
Cortana will play a major role in the story it appears as well.
Halo 4 releases on November 6, 2012.
Up next was the 6th installment to the Splinter Cell series called Blacklist. The trailer shows actual game play with Sam Fisher on the Iran/Iraq boarder. We see what appears to be queued up attacks where multiple enemies are highlighted and a slow motion cinematic shows Sam killing them in order.
The game will feature Kinect voice overs. An example used was Sam hanging off the side of a building below an enemy and the gamer saying “hey you”, essentially causing the enemy to be distracted. It also featured the player calling for an airstrike audibly.
The Ubisoft representatives said game modes will include single player, co-op, and the return of one of the best game modes in history…Spy v. Mercs.
Spy v. Mercs was last featured in Double Agent and was unfortunately poorly implemented. Back when it was in Pandora Tomorrow and Choas Theory, it was an unprecedented experience with perfectly balanced game play and 2 on 2 action.
Next up, Andrew Wilson, the head of EA Sports took the stage to talk about Madden 13 and Fifa 13. It was exclusively to discuss the additions for Kinect.
Fifa was shown first and the demonstrations involved voice commands for substitutions, formation changes, and simple commands such as through passes. The game could also hear disappointment in your voice if you were mad at the virtual referee. This could lead to potential yellow cards I suppose. It didn’t seem like anything ground breaking, but a nice touch.
For Madden, Joe Montana came out to demonstrate Kinect. We already know legends are in this game and his likeness was prominently displayed on the screen. Montana showed examples of using your voice to call an audible, hurry up offense, and individual players on the offense. You can even have them snap the ball audibly. This was executed poorly in my opinion as there was a massive delay in the “hike” call and the actual snap of the ball. By the way, this is one of my biggest gripes with Kinect. Something that takes THAT long to register isn’t an effective gaming tool.
Madden releases on August 28th.
So now we get Kinect shoved down our throats even more with a trailer featuring a player going all Ryu/Ken from Street Fighter II on the screen with a fireball. The game is for Fable: The Journey. Not only does this game probably going to be a massive disappointment like every other game in the series has been, but Kinect integration does nothing for me here either.
Basic game play was featured and we know it will get a holiday 2012 release.
This was immediately followed up with a more than brief trailer that essentially announced Gears of War: Judgement, the 4th of the series set for a late 2013 release.
Forza: Horizon followed at we got a very visually appealing look at the popular racer. Much of the game was shown transitioning from day to night. It looks fantastic though this is far from my genre. Release date is October 23.
Up next we got a 10 minute display of Xbox Kinect featuring voice commands and the new and easier way to search for content. I gotta tell you, this bored me to tears. A good portion of the search features that were executed could be done via controller at the same or even faster pace. As before, I’m not sold on Kinect, and this certainly didn’t help. This was by far the low point of the press conference.
35 new apps will be added to the market place soon, four of them were announced here. Nickelodeon, Paramount, Machinima (which got an awesome crowd reaction) and Univision will be added.
More sports channels are coming and NBA Game Time and NHL Game Center are leading the charge. The subscription based services are a nice addition, but it’s nothing I can’t access through my TV with a much better quality. NHL Center Ice on DirecTV is an annual purchase for me to see Blue Jackets games and this will not change my mind.
Watch ESPN is coming soon to grant Xbox Live users full access to the entire family of ESPN networks.
Finally, Xbox Music, a new way to listen to music and integrate it through other devices showed us nothing of note and certainly nothing impressive.
A trailer for Nike + Kinect Training was also featured. I’m torn on this because I think it could potentially work well, but then I remember that Kinect kind of sucks. The idea is that Kinect can tell whether you are doing the work out properly and tell you how much of a workout you’ve done. You can also go on Xbox Live and workout with friends and see your Nike + score, kind of a fitness score. This could be a fantastic fitness program, but I can’t imagine it will be implemented to the point of replacing a real workout.
Xbox SmartGlass is a feature that was demonstrated that involves turning your television into a “smart TV”. The idea is to utilize your smart phone and/or tablet with the TV. A couple demonstrations showed Game of Thrones being played on the Xbox. On the tablet was a map showing exactly where the characters on the TV show were.
Another example utilized Madden 13 having the player create his own play on a tablet and then executing that play within the game.
It was also announced under the Xbox SmartGlass section that Internet Explorer is coming to the console. Yes, apparently there are people who still use that browser. The example shown was using your cell phone as the mouse to surf the internet with a feel that is ridiculously better than what Wii or PS3 allow.
If you’ve paid attention, you know that Tomb Raider is getting a complete makeover for the upcoming game. Lara Croft looks completely different and the game will be much more advanced. Today we got some pretty sick looking game play footage.
Lara’s cross bow and shotgun were shown off as well as the ability to hit surrounding object to cause damage. For example, sending fire arrows into gasoline, or shooting a building support to crash into a stack of barrels. This looks like a huge step forward for the Tomb Raider series. It was also announced that the first set of DLC will come out on Xbox first.
Three quick trailers were up back to back…Ascend: New Gods….looks like it went out of it’s way to showcase blood. 2013 release.
LocoCycle...No clue. It shows a bike and a voice over talking about a girl doing a mile in 20 seconds. 2013 release.
Matter for Kinect. Looks like Marble Madness….2013 release.
Capcom then presented Resident Evil 6. Unfortunately, there was nothing visually impressive here. It felt like a generic zombie killer type game. The only thing I came away intrigued with is the on screen button timing. An example is shooting past a hostage where a quick meter came on the screen and you had to time the trigger pull to hit the gunman.
Wreckateer, an XBLA game for Kinect. Looks like a 3rd person rip off of Angry Birds. Using a catapult or giant sling shot, you try to take out castles. Available this summer. I cringed at the way it ripped off Angry Birds.
South Park: The Stick of Truth…”Featuring YOU”. March 5th 2013.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone come out explain the game. The game LOOKS like South Park. I mean it looks like you are playing the cartoon. They explain the map of South Park, and how you are attempting to become the 5th boy in the group. I have high hopes for this game.
Dance Central 3…oh boy. Where to begin? This genre of game is something I truly hate. I don’t know why, I just hate it. Usher came out to demonstrate moves in the game. Instead we got a 3 minute concert filled with dancing. It wasn’t until the end when they actually showed the game on the big screen and Usher doing the same moves. Except they weren’t even close to being in sync most of the time. It really was a failure of a segment, but I suppose if you’re a fan of Usher it was pretty cool to see him.
Finally, the presser ended with another big game, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The trailer showed some single player game play which took place in down town Los Angeles in 2025. You are transporting the female President of the United States through the war zone that is L.A. We see some sniping action on a destroyed freeway and some fire fights in a detailed shopping mall right next to Staples Center. We also got a brief look at flying an aircraft over the city.
This game releases on November 13 of this year with Xbox getting first rights at DLC.
Overall, this was a mediocre press conference, namely because of the heavy focus on the gimmicky Kinect. I think Kinect is massively overrated and developers are putting too much time and money into incorporating games for it.
+ Halo 4. No bigger exclusive for Xbox and while I’m skeptical of Microsoft taking control of the franchise from Bungie, this trailer blew everything else out of the water. The game play is solid and features a ton of subtle new game features.
+ Splinter Cell Multiplayer returns. Spies versus Mercenaries is one of the all time great multiplayer modes in gaming and with this being confirmed, I have high hopes this will be implemented properly for the 2nd game on Xbox with this mode. Do it right Ubisoft.
+ Tomb Raider. It’s not the same Lara Croft, but this game has me excited. I see a lot of Uncharted in this game.
- Anything with Kinect. I have yet to see anything come close to changing my mind about Kinect…and yes, I’ve used Kinect before on multiple occasions.
- Dance Central 3. What the hell happened here? This was a terrible segment that may not have been executed properly.
Missing in action:
- Bioshock Infinite, where was this? I was expecting a full blown trailer with new game play footage and a huge new announcement.
I’ll have my thoughts on other conferences throughout the week.
So, what did you think of what Xbox brought to the table?