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Posted by Raine Hutchens on Jun 4, 2012

Microsoft’s Presentation Breakdown [E3 2012]

E3 2012 kicked off this year with Microsoft’s press event right out of the gate. The digital giant unveiled plenty of new plans they’re cooking up, all with the Xbox 360 right in the center. There were no plans or announcements of a new console, just at we’ve been told there wouldn’t be, though the news came well-received to the audience.

Instead of breaking each announcement down into its own small post, we wanted to get an overall breakdown of the presentation for you. With that being said, here’s what was shown at the event:

The presentation started off showing a bit of gameplay from Halo 4. We see the world once again through the internal HUD of Master Chief’s helmet, though things look a bit different. The HUD has been updated, and Master Chief has a few new tricks up his sleeve. He can now switch viewfinders, overlaying things like thermal imaging into his scans of the area. The demo started out with Chief walking through a wilderness setting, much like with the third game. Cortana speaks to him, though it’s not just voice this time. A small video area pops up on the left of the screen that shows Cortana’s face as she’s talking to Chief. This is new, and it adds more personality to Cortana’s voice. It doesn’t just work for her, either. Chief can now pick up on incoming transmissions via this module on his HUD.

After a nice stroll Chief spies a couple of Grunts, a Jackal, and Elite on patrol. He fires upon them, taking each of them out save for the Elite. As Chief goes to reload his rifle the Elite closes in and right before he makes contact he vaporizes into thin air. Chief then walks slowly out into the open, and spots some sort of creature above him. These aren’t normal, living beings. They prove to be the new type of enemy in Halo 4 – a sentient artificial intelligence composed of bio-robotic material. After dispatching a couple of these small enemies (who remind me of the Polyps in Gears 3), Chief is greeted by an enemy that somewhat resembles and insect, though robotic. It crashes upon him, and immediately is met by Chief’s right hand. We see that these new enemies are ruthless and full of powerful weaponry. After a firefight Chief dispatches of the enemy and is able to pick up one of the weapons it left behind. We find out that this weapon is what vaporized the Elite.

We see that these new enemies are very dangerous, and Chief is going to have to do his best to help save whoever may be left on the planet. The overall polish looks great, and while there’s some confusion as to how Chief came across these new upgrades while floating along in space, it does look like it will be a lot of fun. Halo 4 will be releasing this November.

Next up we learned a bit about what Microsoft plans to bring to the Xbox this year. First we’ll see a lot in the television area on Xbox Live. Microsoft wants to give players the opportunity to have all of their favorite entertainment at their fingertips. This means they’ll be rolling out plenty of new content that will appear on Xbox Live. Some new features include:

  • NBA Gametime Live
  • ESPN Live
  • NHL Live

These live-streaming sports networks will help keep you in the game, no matter what time of day it is. You can pick up on all the latest scores and plays right from your Xbox, whenever you need them.

When it comes to TV shows and your favorites, Microsoft has got a plan. Using something they call Kinect SmartGlass, you’ll be able to use integrate your smart phone and tablet into the Xbox Live experience. Tell Kinect to play a show for you, connect your tablet via wifi, and get special stats and features on the tablet while you watch your favorite shows.

SmartGlass doesn’t just work with watching television, though. It helps turn your TV into a smart TV. This fall Microsoft will finally be adding internet capability to the Xbox 360. Internet Explorer will make its debut on the console and you can control it using your tablet or smart phone. There won’t be any sluggish controls using remotes or controllers. Just simply tap and swipe your way around the web with ease.

Next Microsoft touched on music. Using Xbox Music you can listen to your tunes on your time, wherever you are. If you’ve got a smart phone or tablet with the exclusive Xbox Live app, you can sign in and have your favorites at your fingertips. Listen to your music, the way you want it, whenever you want it.

Finally we’ve come to the real fruit of the Microsoft tree – the games. There were quite a few shown off during the event, and many of them were anticipated titles. As I mentioned earlier the event kicked off with Halo 4, and we got to see some gameplay.  This is what fans have been waiting for, and 343 delivered.

Ubisoft made an appearance to show off their new title, Splinter Cell: Blacklist. In Blacklist we see a somewhat new approach to Sam Fisher’s tactics, as this time they’re ballsier. While the Splinter Cell series has always been known for its stealth and covert operations, Blacklist gets players out in the open and up close with combat. Sam uses fluid movement to take down enemies with east, and with an Assassin’s Creed-like takedown, Sam will dispatch unsuspecting targets from above. It’s action-packed and coming spring of 2013.

Next up we saw some footage from a new racer called Forza Horizon. It’s the next installment in the Forza series and looks even more polished that we could imagine. It adds more of an arcade touch to the street racing scene, and will release on October 23rd.

Though it’s not technically a game, Nike announced Kinect Training which will come out this holiday season. With Kinect training you’ll be able to work out, post your results, and track your progress against friends. It will tie in with your Nike FuelBand, adding any Fuel points you earn on the system to what you already have.

EA Sports then took the stage with plenty to offer. First up was FIFA 13 with some great new Kinect features. The game will utilize the Kinect voice command to allow you to make substitutions and create formations based solely on your commands. This means you don’t need to pause the game to manage your team anymore, which is great. You can also make arguments against a referee’s call, though if you use bad language you’ll be penalized.

Madden NFL 13 took some spotlight introducing Kinect voice features as well.  Joe Montana came out and demoed the game’s voice commands for the audience. Using these commands players will be able to make pre-snap calls, such as naming the play, singling out players with orders, calling audibles, and then making the snap. You can also use commands to hurry players along to the line after a play.

We then saw a demo of the new Tomb Raider reebot coming from Crystal Dynamics. The gameplay showed some bow and arrow techniques, dispatching enemies, and some platforming that will need to be used in order to survive in the game’s harsh environment. We saw Lara being thrashed around by river current, swept up in a draft while using a parachute, and slamming through trees in a forest. The game’s first DLC will be available early on Xbox 360, and the game will be releasing on March 5th of 2013.

A new title called Ascend: New Gods was revealed next. It’s an Xbox 360 exclusive coming from Signal Studios. The gameplay demo showed a warrior in heavy armor battling many a beast and man on a battlefield. The warrior climbed atop a giant minotaur and fought him in a way that reminds us of Shadow of the Colossus. The game will be an action-RPG that will launch on Xbox Live Arcade in 2013.

In something that’s reminiscent of the lightcycle race in TRON, Twisted Pixel is bringing us a racing game called LocoCycle. A trailer popped up showing us that assassinations will keep you at the front of the pack and ready to taste sweet glory as you cross the finish line. Aside from this, not too much is known.

Dance Central 3 was announced accompanied by an Usher performance on stage. The game will feature Usher’s song Scream and include everything fans love about the Dance Central titles. It will release this fall.

The fabled South Park game was shown afterwards, revealing a launch date of March 5th 2013. It’s called South Park: The Stick of Truth, and the audience was graced by both Try Parker and Matt Stone’s appearance as they spoke about the game. When creating the game it was the first time both creators actually needed to map out the town of South Park, which came as a surprise. A trailer was shown, and it’s included the farts and jokes fans want in a South Park game.

It’s been talked about over this past weekend, and Gears of War: Judgment showed off its first trailer. In it we see Baird as he’s dragged in amongst the war-torn canvas outside into a large room in front of a tribunal. He looks up at the camera and smiles, all while destruction is taking place on Sera. The trailer looks well-polished, but doesn’t show any more details or gameplay.

Resident Evil 6 showed a short demo, letting players see the future of the survival horror franchise. We were shown hand-to-hand combat, proving that Leon Kennedy can kill whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Grenades in the game now have a line-of-sight reticle that allows players to see where they’re tossing them. The demo also sported plenty of timed button sequences that had characters struggling to survive in some desperate situations. Familiar characters are shown, just as the familiar zombies from days of old return for fresh blood. The new demo makes the game look good.

Once the commotion died down a bit Microsoft wanted to end with a bang. To end their press conference they showed a live demo of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The demo showed a group of soldiers protecting the president in an armored escort. Before we could blink things go to hell and explosions rock the streets before them. Things get real as you get out of the vehicle and start moving down the busted street. Obtaining a vantage point, enemies were picked off one by one with cover fire from above. The game looks very smooth and Treyarch is prepared to provide a brand new experience for players when Black Ops 2 releases later this year.

The press conference turned out well, and Microsoft showed us that they’re prepared to usher in what could be the best year in gaming. With titles like Halo 4 and the new Gears of War: Judgment, the company isn’t taking a backseat to the industry. Stay tuned for further E3 coverage as it happens.

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