Wednesday, 6 June 2012

E3 2012 - Microsoft Press Conference

E3 kicked off this year with one of the biggest contributors to gaming rolling out the red carpet, and showcasing some of their latest offerings on the Xbox 360....I am of course talking of Microsoft and there are few surprises to be shown this year....though not as many as we would've hoped.

As is to be expected after the many Kinect games showcased at last years E3, Microsoft continues to push the Kinect and to endorse it as a device that can be used for Casual gaming as well as a useful addition to Hardcore gamers as well.

While most gamers are aware of the motion-sensing capabilities of the device, the focus this year was on the voice functionality of Kinect being utilized. Games like Mass Effect 3 and The Elder Scrolls V : Skyrim have already shown us just how well this can be implemented, and Microsoft looks to continue this trend for quite some time.

One of these titles is Ubisoft's upcoming Splinter Cell Blacklist, which sees the return of Sam Fisher in the latest of this popular series of games.

Ubisoft's development team revealed interesting applications of Kinect within their games, such as the ability to call out to enemy soldiers to distract them, as well the ability to use voice commands to call in an airstrike.

EA Sports also showed off some uses for this with their upcoming selection of titles, including Fifa 13 (allowing players to make substitutions, call plays and even argue with referees) as well as Madden 13 (which allows you to shout commands to players and changing routes for players.)

A less interesting announcement made was the integration of Internet Explorer into the Xbox. Not worth an announcement in my opinion. Naturally Kinect's voice integration was mentioned here, as well as using gestures to navigate.

Next up was a slightly different perspective on interactivity, with the announcement of a feature that Microsoft is calling "SmartGlass". A feature that will be released this holiday season, SmartGlass allows you to use your smartphone or tablet (IOS, Android and Windows Mobile) to interact with Movies, Games and Music.

Particularly interesting to note was the application of this in games, with Madden being the main example on show. Tablet users will be able to call plays in Madden, mixing up things in an interesting way. Never mind that this seems a little too similar to a certain Nintendo device showcased this year (The Wii-U), it may prove an interesting addition to how we use our Xbox 360.

Of course, the Hardcore games were shown as well, and some interesting titles were discussed and shown, such as Halo 4, Gears of War : Judgement (which is a prequel to the original trilogy), Tomb Raider and Forza Horizon. A new title by Twisted Pixel was shown (The studio recently purchased by Microsoft who brought us the wacky and brilliant Gunstringer) called LocoCycle.

Other games were shown as well like Ascend : New Gods and Wreckateer, as well as some inevitable Kinect titles like Dance Central 3 and another fitness game called Kinect Training.

While all in all, Microsoft had a decent conference this certainly wasn't as interesting as their offering in 2011, and no incredible surprises were announced. Although mostly due to news of Halo 4 being revealed at E3 last year, and the recent leak of the new Gears of War, Microsoft would have been better off revealing a decent new IP, as the regular barrage of sequels is beginning to wear a little thin.

There was of course the inevitable appearance of Call of Duty Black Ops II.  

No news was revealed at all on a next generation Xbox, but Microsoft had already made that clear beforehand.

The entire 1hr 37 minute conference can be viewed below

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