E3 2012: Ten Thoughts On… The Microsoft Press Conference
by Sean Madson on June 6, 2012

Of the “Big Three” press conferences, Nintendo is the only one left to take the stage. Based solely on what has been shown thus far, Microsoft was by far the weakest. Much of what was shown was already leaked in some form or fashion prior to the show, and the rest did little to inspire excitement. Here is what I gathered from the Microsoft media briefing:

1. The conference actually opened on a strong note, with a debut of a rather strong Halo 4 trailer. While it’s nice to see Master Chief back in action, it’s hard to dismiss the fact that the game looks nigh indistinguishable from Halo 3 and can be mistaken as such if you weren’t paying attention. On the other hand, Halo 3 is the last title in the series I played extensively, so this could actually be a good thing. There were some new enemies on display as well for those tired of killing the Flood.

2. While I was never a huge follower of the Splinter Cell series, the trailer for Splinter Cell: Blacklist was rather intriguing as it showed off Sam’s ability dispatch foes in a more action packed manner rather than just sneaking around all of the time, though I suspect there will be much of that too. Series vets might not like it, but having less stealth is more of a personal preference for me. It will be releasing Spring of 2013.

3. There was a considerable amount of time dedicated to discussing both FIFA 13 and Madden 13, with the latter being demoed onstage courtesy of Joe Montana. It’s basically what you would expect; same game as last year only, “better with Kinect.”

4. There was a brief trailer shown for Fable: The Journey which again played up the Kinect functionality. It could make for an interesting experience (though sure played it off in a dramatic manner), but the Fable franchise has never been a system seller for me and I don’t suspect I’ll be picking up a Kinect just to play it.

5. The trailer for Gears of War Judgment (not a spelling error) was dramatic and made for a nice teaser, though it was painfully short and revealed very little about the game. From what I could gather, it focuses on the character of Baird and potentially looks to be a prequel to the original game. It is also slated for release sometime in 2013.

6. A good chunk of the conference was dedicated to Nike and discussing various fitness applications that used the Kinect. I could tell by the limited amount of applause that the audience really wasn’t feeling this demonstration. This isn’t to say that Microsoft shouldn’t talk about these features at all. But these segments got more screen time than even the Gears of War trailer, and that seems a bit disproportionate when you consider the audience that is going to be blogging about your conference.

7. Microsoft announced what they liked to call Xbox SmartGlass, which allows you to sink up your phone, tablet, Xbox, and whatever else together so you can start something on one device, and then move it to another. The way they were using it to call up friends lists and interact with certain games seemed inconsequential at first, until you consider that this is the whole gimmick behind the WiiU. I wonder what this will do to shake consumer confidence in Nintendo’s console.

8. Several third party games were shown off, including the new Tomb Raider and Resident Evil 6. Tomb Raider was interesting if only because I was not a fan of previous entries in the franchise and this new reboot had an impressive showing. I’m guessing it’s due to the fact that it looks so much like Uncharted, a series that owes a lot of inspiration to the old Tomb Raider games in the first place. Even Resident Evil 6 looked really entertaining and I don’t even follow that franchise.

9. There were some notable celebrity appearances utilized here, including a demonstration of Just Dance 3 by Usher, as well as Matt Stone and Trey Parker showing off their new South Park game. In the latter, you play the role as the new kid in town (of which I assume you customize yourself) and must play hero amongst all the shenanigans going on in the town. South Park: Stick of Truth will be out March 2013.

10. The conference ended with a lengthy trailer of Call of Duty: Black Ops II. It appears as though the game takes place in a very ruined city of Los Angeles, and it’s about what you’d expect from a Call of Duty game. The official date on that is November 13, 2012.

There you have it. Be sure to stay tuned to Diehard GameFAN for more E3 2012 coverage!




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