Thanks to Playtech, I’m lucky enough to be at E3 2012, and today being Monday in the USA was the day the media conferences take place. Now don’t get me wrong, these are really interesting to go to, but by no means are they a true reflection on what E3 as an event (and a week in one’s life) really stands for. The press conferences are manufactured set ups for the main part (EA less so than the others) but they all serve a purpose, and that is to globally tell the world that E3 is on, and that games and gaming related hardware is on show for a week.
Many developers tie their release schedule to ensure they have content to display or unveil at what is often touted as the biggest gaming event on the calendar, and although the event no longer holds the surprises that the media conferences once provided due to social networking giving reporters and related industry individuals the ability to instantly update the world on what is happening, the E3 event now holds a different type of prestige and information.
Enough with the introduction to E3 though, this morning was all about XBOX, and Microsoft’s development of this now 6 year old console gaming platform. I use the word gaming loosely because although that was it’s original release purpose, the XBOX 360 has evolved massively. The conference started with the literal poster child of XBOX 360 gaming – the Halo series.
The gameplay looks very nice, and is very similar in style to that of it’s predecessor. No details were given on any element of multiplayer or co-operative modes which I know is on the mind of many competitive gamers out there (particularly in NZ). As a lead off to the conference, this was definitely a highlight, and the lead up trailer combined with the game play was very nicely worked.
Following the impressive start with Halo was Splinter Cell: Blacklist. One of the biggest features shown off was the “Killing in Motion” which is effectively a bullet time feed in Max Payne style – a very cool feature that I don’t think you can get sick of. Splinter Cell in the past provided a great mix of action like any other shooter game (3rd person perspective is how the Tom Clancy series love to roll) and also of espionage, and at first glance, Blacklist looks to be following in it’s footsteps quite solidly. Definitely a game to look out for and with Co-Op mode to go along with the Single Player it will have a lengthy play through.
A little bit of Kinect integration was shown off in the Splinter Cell: Blacklist demo, and was shown off even more so in the Madden 13 demo which popped up next. Joe Montana took the stage and in a very scripted fashion gave us the idea of what Kinect integration would do through the ability to call plays instead of having to choose them, run audibles instead of pushing from a limitation of buttons, and even hike the ball using voice recognition. I’m not wholly sure why you’d want to yell “hike” at your TV in a game of Madden, but hey, the feature is there, so someone will use it.
Gears of War popped in with a trailer next – absolutely nothing was given away here, so we’re hoping to see more tomorrow at the start of E3. We were whisked off to Forza land, as the roar of a variety of engines further took our hearing to pieces – Forza Horizon will be the name for this dubstep rocking game. A variety of cars were seen from old school, to new racers through to the tried and loved supercars.
Following this was all the XBOX dashboard features, the bullet points of which will save you from what frankly turned in to around 30-40 minutes of boredom:
- Bing Integration – allows you to search using the command Bing with voice integration – appears to be locally only.
- New Dashboard applications – a host of new dashboard applications. It is very likely Oceania will see none of the featured ones due to licensing for some time, if at all.
- ESPN 24/7 – Pay TV to XBOX Dashboard also – pretty sweet if it can be obtained down under, but again given licensing, don’t hold your breath.
- Smartglass – painfully detailed as to how we will be able to integrate our smart devices (phones and tablets) for any platform (iOS, Android and of course, W7 Mobile) to watch programs, movies and the likes, as well as integrate with games (albeit this was shown in a concept capacity only). Looks interesting, and if you’re a hardcore XBOX media centre type of person this will appeal no doubt.
- Internet Explorer – finally XBOX gets a browser. For me, this pretty much tops the list of features the platform lacked against it’s opponent in the form of the PS3.
- XBOX Music was also in amongst this. Personally I think this could be a particularly huge thing, as of any corporation around the world, Microsoft and XBOX have the ability to take on the behemoth that is iTunes. This was very much glazed over as just another feature in the conference, but I will be keen to delve more in to this with a Microsoft rep tomorrow.
Nestled amongst this list was also the introduction of Nike+ Kinect Training. Another option in the evergrowing Nike+ electronic integration that is taking the sporting and fitness markets on it’s own. The Kinect Training will be very good for those who like this sort of thing, and will be much much better than any previously seen options from the likes of the Nintendo or Playstation platforms just based on what minimal detail was seen in the excerpt given by Nike’s Stefan Olander.
Once the list above and the Nike+ pieces had finished, we moved on to games again. Tomb Raider was the first on the final stretch, and although it looked good and different, it felt like just another 3rd person shooter style game. There were no features to give it any flamboyance like some of the other titles on show (i.e. no Kinect integration, no slow motion shooting etc.).
A new game came next with Ascend: New Gods. A lot of noise and indiscernible graphics came together with clunky movement of the avatars on screen. Thus, nothing special in the trailer, and on we moved to Resident Evil 6 as Japanese developers from Capcom popped on stage to introduce it. Gameplay looks the usual Resident Evil style, and the storyline looks to be in the vain of what we are coming to expect with zombie shooters – movie style and linear in nature. The bizarre segways continued as we then transferred in to a kids game called Wreckateer – fully Kinect integrated with the objective being to fire boulders of various types at a wall to….. well…… wreck the wall……. Cute, quirky, and looks good for a kids game – I’m sure they’ll love it.
Next was none other than Trey Parker and Matt Stone on stage for the South Park game that is currently in development. A great comedic interlude that was definitely needed in an otherwise very stiff, scripted presentation – a definite highlight for everyone I spoke to. The South Park boys were followed by Dance Central 3, and Usher performing Scream and the dance moves to the song for DC3 on stage! Great stuff from a great artist.
Everything was the rounded out with Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 gameplay footage. I’m a big CoD fan, but once again, this feels like just another foul attempt of the developers to push the franchise for the sake of sales. The twist is to the future, so we see hover jets, powerful guns, Xray vision sights, and generally a lot of loud noises and things are blown up, shot or destroyed in some form or fashion. If I seem unenthusiastic, it’s because I see this title as a rip off of a few games that have previously been published (Battlefield: 2142, Frontlines: Fuel of War to just name a couple) – call them inspiration, or call them flattery for using features, I just don’t see the CoD franchise as the big amazing beast that it’s sales show it to be. Either way you look at it, the XBOX competitive gamers will be once again tested with a new title to pick up, while the PC gamers will enjoy a single player storyline before they shelve the game and hop back to CoD4 for another 12 months.
And that was the XBOX Media Conference. If you have any questions, comments or want to know anything more, then please let me know below or on my Facebook page so I can find out answers!
Craig "Arseynimz" Nimmo is a gamer and shoutcaster from New Zealand who spends his spare time looking in to the hour glass of competitive and general gaming. When not travelling the world on game commentating adventures, he can be found observing life idiocy, or general industry excitement...... Craig is a Senior Shoutcaster for Gamestah, PC Head Admin for CyberGamer, and a part of the Vox Eminor eSports Team.