Microsoft kicked off their conference in style with a trailer, then gameplay, of Halo 4. It showed off Master Chief fighting his way through a jungle-like environment displaying great looking visuals. Along-side Chief’s new armour comes new weaponry in the form of a light rifle and scattershot (shotgun), which were picked up from the new enemy types in the game. They had an odd orange glow and came in a few different forms, including a hovering bug-like creature that caught Master Chief’s grenades and threw them back.
Next up was Ubisoft announcing Splinter Cell Blacklist along with some gameplay. It took place on the Iran/Iraq border and showed Sam Fisher utilizing similar tricks to Splinter Cell Conviction, however he didn’t seem too stealthy in his actions, or maybe that was just the way it was played. They announced a launch window of Spring 2013.
FIFA 13 followed closely by Madden 13 were shown, boasting Kinect integration as their main ploy. In FIFA it was used to change substitutes and change your formation during gameplay while in Madden it was used to verbally call out plays and individual names to pass the ball to.
3 Microsoft exclusive trailers were shown of Fable: The Journey (release window of Holiday 2012) followed by the recently announced Gears of War Judgement (release window of 2013) and Forza Horizon with a release date of October 23rd 2012. Fable: The Journey showed a little bit of gameplay but nothing new, the other two trailers were gameplay-less.
Microsoft then focused on entertainment, announcing partnerships with Nickelodeon, Paramount, Machinima and Univision. They also announced a new ESPN Xbox experience in the form of 24 hours a day/7 days a week ESPN coverage which sounded like live streaming all of ESPN’s TV channels through your Xbox 360.
They then showed off their new music service: Xbox Music. It’s a service that will have 30 million tracks from launch and will range across Xbox 360s, Windows 8, phones and tablets. To me, it sounds like the Zune name is so weak they need to re-brand it.
Nike + Kinect training was announced as a new training ‘game’ for Kinect that can be used in conjunction with your phone to remind you when it’s time to work out.
Following that was Xbox Smartglass. The idea is to link all your devices together so you can, for example, watch a movie on your tablet while out and about then pick up where you left off on your TV when you get home.They then showed it integrating into gameplay with the tablet bringing up Halo Waypoint and information on Halo 4 while it was being played, which made it seem a bit like the Wii U.
Then came the announcement of a web browser coming to Xbox 360, Internet Explorer. They exhibited it’s integration with Kinect and Bing and the fact it could use Windows 8 tablets to scroll through web pages.
The conference steered towards games again with gameplay of Tomb Raider. Gameplay consisted of bow and arrow attacks, a parachute section and a few classic quicktime events. Lara’s gritty reboot is shaping up to be an interesting survival/action game to say the least. Crystal Dynamics then announced that timed exclusive DLC will be coming to the 360.
3 original XBLA games came next. Ascend New Gods by Signal Studios had a trailer that showed a man scaling a large titan of some kind, God of War style. LocoCycle by Twisted Pixel talked about a female motorbike in its trailer and Matter by Gore Verbinski had a mysterious trailer with plenty of floating shapes scheduled for 2013.
Capcom took the stage and showcased Resident Evil 6 gameplay of Leon traversing through the streets of Raccoon City. It didn’t look very Resident Evil-ish but it looked good, nonetheless. They also announced timed exclusive DLC for the 360.
2 more XBLA titles were shown off. Firstly, Wreckateer which is a Kinect game where you have to try and destroy castles by using a giant slingshot with different types of rocks, gameplay seemed like Angry Birds with a third person perspective. Then South Park The Stick of Truth got a trailer presentd by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park.
The stage was then taken over by Usher showing a dance routine featured in Dance Central 3. Apart from new songs, nothing else was announced for the third installment.
Wrapping up the conference was Call of Duty: Black Ops II. A gameplay segment consisted of an attack on Masons squad and him having to make a decision on whether to snipe from atop the bridge and cover his team who were transporting the president or rappel down and cover them from the ground. This gameplay clip was actually pretty cool and a nice way to top of the presentation.
In my opinion, this media briefing was better than their performance last year but still seemed like they were drifting away from games and more toward Xbox 360 being an overall entertainment center which worries me a bit. I just hope they don’t lose sight of all the gamers that made they’re brand as big as it is.