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Microsoft E3 Press Conference 2012 – Round-Up
Kicking things off with one of their heavy hitters, the first in game footage of Halo 4
Kicking things off with one of their heavy hitters, the first in game footage of Halo 4. While it seems silly to say that it looks to play much like Halo 3, for most gamers watching the livestream that was enough. Master Chief is back and that's enough to satisfy the fans. It's difficult for everyone else to get too excited by yet another Halo game though, especially when this year's E3 would be over saturated by shooters.
The first new game of E3 followed, the next entry in the Tom Clancy franchise Splinter Cell: Blacklist. The game looked to retain most of the gameplay elements seen in 2010's Conviction, though a new voice actor has been confirmed for lead Sam Fisher for the first time in series history. Next up was another of Microsoft's first party franchises; Gears of War: Judgement made its debut at the show. It certainly looked impressive, but much like Halo, there's only so much originality you can see in a new Gears of War.
What followed was a series of everything that isn't games related that Microsoft wanted to showcase. Internet Explorer for Xbox, a music service to replace Zune and most importantly their new Smart Glass technology were all described in detail. Smart Glass is the reaction to Nintendo's Wii U we should have anticipated, where Tablets and Smartphones can interact with your Xbox 360 to display additional content in both games, and services like ESPN and TV. It looked impressive on stage, but obviously it will depend on whether the tablet device you own will be compatible with the service.
Back to games the conference went, with debut gameplay from Tomb Raider and Resident Evil 6 impressing the crowds, even if both were very much inspired by the successes of the Uncharted series in showcasing epic set piece moments interspersed with gameplay. The South Park game was shown for the first time too, the standout for most people watching, the replication of the TV show's style in game form being especially impressive next to the high octane action of the other games.
Kinect was mentioned briefly in nearly all of the demos, but it wasn't until the Dance Central 3 presentation that it took the spotlight. Whatever spotlight was left next to Usher that is, as following an awkward video link about his dance moves being in the game he took to the stage for a full performance with Dance Central gameplay behind him on the screen. It was an awkward moment that would be replicated later in the day at Ubisoft's show, and felt completely out of place given the audience of E3.
To close Microsoft went with an obvious choice, Call of Duty Black Ops 2. Showing COD at an event like this is pretty much pointless nowadays, for the same reason that review copies are never sent out for games in the franchise. Activision will sell Call of Duty without fail, no matter how impressive and ridiculous the gameplay demo shown at E3 is. Black Ops 2 is certainly looking more varied than the first game, but yet again it's difficult to be shocked by COD these days.
This sentiment echoed across the whole of Microsoft's presentation, with Xbox stalwarts appearing left and centre, but no big shocks. Years past have seen Sony franchises like GTA, Metal Gear and Final Fantasy come to Xbox, and though we prepared for it, the lack of any new hardware was disappointing all the same. A weak showing for the leading console in the industry right now, which left the door wide open for Sony and Nintendo later in the week.