Microsoft E3 Press Conference in Brief

Microsoft kicked off the Electronic Entertainment Expo with a press conference showcasing all that is bright, shiny and good in the coming 12 months of Xbox 360 glory. What made it particularly pleasurable was that it was streamed live for the first time via Xbox Live.

Here’s the  news in brief from the Microsoft E3 press conference, the news is written in the order in which it was initially announced. Kinect got a massive showing and one of the biggest news was that Internet Explorer will be enabled on Xbox 360. Read on and be dazzled, fellow Geeks:

  • Halo 4 started the press conference off with what can truly be described as an epic trailer that included gameplay from the hotly anticipated game in the series.What is noticeable is that the character and level designs have been slightly tweaked but still retain their iconic look. As announced at last year’s E3, this will be the first instalment in The Reclaimer Trilogy. The story will follow on from where things left off at the end of Halo 3 and won’t be a series reboot.
  • Tom Clany’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist got a trailer and a gameplay overview. The story and action will take place in the Middle East, along the Iran/Iraq border. In the game’s story, a group of nations will deliver an ultimatum to the USA, and it falls to Sam Fisher to find the ringleaders and take them out. The gameplay looks very akin to that of another Ubisoft franchise – Assassins Creed – with a far more agile and wiry Fisher pulling off some incredible moves and attacks.
    Kinnect voice recognition will be used to help you distract enemies, and give orders to a support team during missions.
    Co-op play will be available as well.
  • EA Sports showed two games – Fifa 13 and Madden NFL 13. Both will get enhanced Kinnect play. With Madden NFL 13 you can give the team or individual players orders so you can interact with the members of the team operated by the computer in order to get to the goal and win the match.
  • Fable: The Journey will be very Kinnect focused with movements enabling you to perform magic attacks. It was described as a “new direction” by Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Studios.
  • Other trailers of forthcoming games include: racer Forza: Horizon (announced for release on 23rd October 2012 in the USA) and shooter Gears of War: Judgement. 
  • Yusuf Mehdi, head of marketing and strategy, informed the audience that there would be enhanced Kinnect capability with bing voice search. He said that it will now be able to search by genre, and more languages will be enabled. He also added more channels will be added to Xbox and Xbox Music will be implemented across consoles, tablets and phones. One big question mark is whether this increased number of channels available will spread beyond the USA.
  • Kinect fitness regimes will be part of your living room as Nike+ Kinect Training will be coming. It looks like it will go a step further than Nintendo’s already established Wii Fit, apparently bringing more personalised, and more accurate measurement via Kinect.  There will also be reminders sent to your phone when you are due for another workout, and you will be able to compete with others, including your friends, over Xbox Live.
  • The biggest news of the conference came from Marc Whitten, head of Xbox Live. First, he announced Xbox SmartGlass, a software tool that will enable you to link your television, phone, and tablets together so as to enjoy a more immersive gaming experience. Examples of its use include being able to start watching a film on your tablet or phone while travelling and being automatically able to continue where you left off as you arrive home.

    This will also bring enhanced gaming capabilities such as being able to use game inventory menus via your tablet, as shown with Halo 4. This will work with any smart device and not just Microsoft brands, so iPhones and iPads will be applicable.

    Marc Whitten then followed up with a jaw-dropper: Internet Explorer will be coming to Xbox 360, incorporating a combination of Kinect voice recognition and SmartGlass to allow you to browse the internet from your living room. Tablets and smartphones will, via SmartGlass, allow you to scroll, pinch and zoom, and click-links on any website shown on your television. Whitten insisted that this will work with all the devices you already own (assuming you already own Kinect…and a tablet/smartphone).

  • Crystal Dynamics showed gameplay from the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot. Use of bow and arrow was prevalent in the footage shown, but conventional weapons were also given a fair showing. Bullet-time will be included, and you will be able to use the environment to your advantage to defeat your enemies. You will be fighting for survival in a jungle environment, and it looks like young Lara Croft will be in for some really bad luck. Her voice will still have an English accent. The first downloadable content will be coming exclusively to Xbox 360.
  • More games got the trailer treatment, with fantasy violence and gore from the team behind Toy Soldiers in Ascend: New Gods, Twisted Pixel’s Lococycle got a cryptic trailer that didn’t say much beyond it involving a bike, and Matter, a Kinect based puzzler.
  • Capcom showed off some footage of Resident Evil 6. As Leon and co fight for survival.
  • Wreckateer was shown off. Gameplay is heavily dependent on Kinect functionality as you coordinate some special cannonballs with your moments to do some serious property damage to castles. Will be launched over Xbox Live.
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth was given a trailer. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone took to the stage to inform the audience that they and Obsidian worked hard to get the game to look exactly like an episode of the TV show. You will be a customisable character and “the fifth of the four boys”. Parker and Stone said that for the first time since the show began, they had to physically map the geography of the town that the show takes place in.
  • Harmonix showed off some footage of Kinect dance game, Dance Central 3
  • The press conference concluded with Don Mattrick showing off some footage and gameplay from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 as you have to escort the President to safety in downtown Los Angeles, where terrorists have taken control of America’s fleet of unmanned drones. Flight and vehicular sections were shown.

Sources: Xbox Live, e3expo.com
Reporter: Dean Simons

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