E3 2012: Microsoft Presser Kicks-Off With Halo 4, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, SmartGlass App

Microsoft throws down a hot line-up Halo 4, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and tons more at their E3 2012 press event.

Microsoft E3 2012 Media Briefing Image

Here we are once again friends, the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Where once a year the gaming industry touches down on Earth and gives us a glimpse into the future. For Microsoft, this means expanding the Xbox 360 into new possibilities, or for those of you who aren’t fluent in marketing speak, ways to make more money.

It’s a business after all, and with no signs of their next console at this years E3, Microsoft hopes they can squeeze every last drop from the Xbox 360 while they can…

Halo 4 arriving November 6

…so, I guess it’s amazingly good timing that arriving this November 6 is Halo 4, which was first up to bat for the Microsoft media briefing.

Not just with a trailer though, but a demo too. It showed Master Chief in pursuit of a crashed space battleship, exchanging fire against a glowy set of new enemies through a jungle. Take notice of MC’s new in-game visor abilities and weapons, which seem to based on Forerunner tech.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist features Kinect vocal commands

Sam Fisher is back. The master-infiltrator from Tom Clancy-fame is in the midst of a Middle Eastern warzone, trying to track down a new terrorist threat, the “Blacklist.” Helping take down his enemies as kick-ass as possible, are the new Kinect features: yelling to distract guards, command troops, and calling airstrikes.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) won’t be available until spring 2013, but Ubisoft confirmed that Spy vs. Mercs competitive multiplayer will return along with co-op mode trimmings. One thing that won’t be returning is Michael Ironsides, the long-standard voice for Sam is being replaced with Eric Johnson. I hear people care about that kind of stuff, so I thought I would mention it.

Fable: The Journey, Gears of War: Judgment, & Forza Horizon

Fast forwarding past some Kinect demos for both EA’s Fifa 2013 and Madden 2013 (Joe Montana came on stage and played some of the game, pre-written dialogue was spoken, and awkward silence occurred – let’s just move forward, okay?) the crowd at the presser got to see Fable: The Journey, Gears of War: Judgment, and Forza Horizon.

The first, showed off heavy Kinect implantation (hey, I made no promises we were done talking about Kinect), and if I could best describe Journey’s game play, I would describe it as a magical-shooter… if such a genre exists. Players can throw magic spells, fireballs, and lighting with motion-gestures that will no doubt make anyone look like a giant fool in front of others.

Ah, but that’s all part of the whimsy! Something that is super missing in Gears of War Judgment, a prequel title staring a young Marcus Fenix. Unless, you’re the kind of chap that thinks loads of blood and chainsaw-maulings to the face are elements of whimsy.

Forza Horizon served as a flashier mood-lifter though with its time on the stage floor, as footage from the game showed less of a simulator-feel that is usually expected from Microsoft’s own racing franchise, and more of an arcade touch with Burnout-style crashes where all the passengers seem to unbelievably escape unharmed.

Fable: The Journey is currently scheduled to ship this October 9; no game play of Judgment means we probably won’t see it hit shelves until 2013, and Forza Horizon is driving into stores this October 23.

New Xbox Live services, Xbox Music, SmartGlass

Microsoft Smart Glass Image

A whole slew of Xbox Live services were next on the docket, with additional apps from almost every entertainment company you could possibly name – Nickelodeon, Paramount, Machinima, Univision, and tons more content from ESPN on the way.

Microsoft even introduced a new music app called, redundantly enough, Xbox Music. Being the music service the company, quote, “always wanted” to develop (strange they couldn’t that with Zune), the new service will feature 30 million music tracks that will be accessible on the Xbox 360, Windows 8 PCs, tablets and phones.

SmartGlass, meanwhile, is a free companion application for Windows Phones, Windows 8, and portable devices that allows streaming of media between the 360 and whatever else is in sync with it, much in the vein of what you can do with Apple’s AirPlay. There’s even some dynamic interplay between certain games – in Madden 13, for example, you can draw plays using a tablet and use them in-game.

No fixed released date for SmartGlass yet, other than a “fall” launch.

Exclusive games: Ascend: New Gods, LocoCycle, Matter, Dance Central 3

Ascend New Gods Image 1

Rounding towards the end of the presser was bevy of game announcements coming exclusively to the Xbox 360. Signal Studios, best known for the Toy Soldiers series on Xbox Live Arcade, revealed their new project, Ascend: New Gods, a turn-based strategy game with asynchronous multiplayer that works across the console and Windows Phone.

Twisted Pixel – makers of ‘Splosion Man and acquired by Microsoft Studios recently – unveiled their new game starring a Knight Rider-like motorcycle, called LocoCycle. Then there’s Matter, a 2013 Xbox 360 game that has the director of Pirates of the Caribbean, Gore Verbisnki, as its major collaborator. Crazy, I know.

Next, get on your swede shoes, because Dance Central 3 is coming out this fall for Kinect and totes some interesting multiplayer options, including Crew Throwdown. Up to eight players can participate in this mode in two teams of four, which should certainly make for some lively parties (psst, by the way, E3 party at your house).

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 DLC first on Xbox 360

Ending the show was Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The ninth shooter in the mega-selling franchise, Black Ops 2 is the first to have a completely futuristic setting with futuristic warfare tech to match. And speaking of first, Xbox 360 users will be getting first dibs on DLC when the game launches on November 13.

There you have it. Microsoft’s E3 keynote down the bucket. Please don’t stray too far from Walyou, as E3 2012 coverage continues until Thursday we’ll try our best to deliver the latest news from it; game trailers, surprise new consoles, whatever. Oh, and stay around for the host of other geek-related posts – may I persude you to check out a Star Wars’ AT-AT Bunk Bed? Or how about a Lego mystery box?