E3 2012: Microsoft Keynote Round Up
Microsoft were the first company to hold an official conference outing at E3 this year, and have a big year lined up. Halo 4 is the big one as well as new Fable and Gears of War games are just the tip of what to expect from the Xbox 360 this year. After watching the conference, the highlights and a few lows are condensed just for you!
First Halo, opening the show in style. A mix of live action and in game footage shows exactly what a seven year old console can do. Yes, seven year old console! The trailer showing Master Chief blowing up jungle aliens is a sight for sore eyes. I would have liked to have seen footage of the multiplayer but all good things come to those who wait.
Ubisoft chose Microsoft’s stage time to show the gaming world Splinter Cell: Blacklist. A good looking title that hopes to regain some of the ground lost against C.O.D and Battlefield. Sam Fisher is back and he is kicking ass all over the world.
Oddly Gears of War Judgment and Forza Horizon are shown very little screentime as Microsoft decide to discuss how they are becoming more of a media centre. From what we see of the games, they look good but no real specifics like Halo 4 before it.
Other games get more screen time such as FIFA 13 and Madden from EA and South Park from THQ but Microsoft have chosen to use their time to announce that they will have sports partners on board to provide NHL, NFL and NBA coverage. Nothing about this has been confirmed for outside of the USA. Also Microsoft have announced that Internet Explorer is making its way to the console this year.
The most interesting announcement is that we are being introduced to SmartGlass. An app that turns a mobile device or tablet into an extra screen for extra information while watching movies or maps for games, sort of like the screen in the Wii U gamepad but for existing devices, a controller is still needed but looks good. Microsoft have also announced they will be connecting our tablets to Xbox with Xbox Music. A service like spotify to stream music with the social element of iTunes’ Ping.
The conference finished with a loud introduction to Black Ops 2 – obviously it is going to be the biggest release of the year having smashed preorder records since it was announced, bookending the conference with two exciting titles and not much else in the middle. Overall, the conference from Microsoft was more a strategic plan to battle rivals rather than to show the world what games we will all be playing. Kinect this year it appears will be mainly used for its microphone in shouting instructions to your team in Splinter Cell or squad in FIFA, or perhaps insulting Cartman in South Park.
It is not Microsoft’s worst showing at E3 but not certainly its best. It could have created more of a buzz from Gears of War and Forza instead of announcing media partners left, right and centre. SmartGlass is a surprise but only time will tell if it is just another thing or a serious contender to the Wii U, but the games – the point of E3 after all is the games on show – was almost sidelined to a business plan on how they are aiming to make money out of the gamers who play the console without them buying any games.