E3 kicked off today with the Microsoft Media Briefing, where gaming fans and hopefuls alike filled the LA Galen Center to hear about the gaming juggernaut’s next big thing.
The conference opened with a bombastic Halo 4 trailer, showing stunning gameplay of Master Chief as well as new weapons and enemies revealed. During the demo, it appeared that players used what appeared to be a kind of Detective Mode (similar to the Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City games) to identify enemies and use during combat. Developer 343 appears to have been able to take the beloved Bungie series and put their own interesting spin on this latest installment.
The next major game announced was the Gears of War: Judgement trailer, a new game in the series by developer People Can Fly. Though the trailer was short, it was able to impress as it showed Damon Baird, one of the characters from the original game’s Delta Squad, in shackles amid images of Locusts and COG soldiers fighting in a burning city. The game takes place 15-years before the original trilogy and opens with Baird in shackles while being tried for treason. Though details are scarce, it appears to be more of what Gears fans love about the series.
Another highpoint of the conference was the reveal of a new Splinter Cell title, Splinter Cell: Blacklist. The game takes place on the Iraq/Iran border, and gameplay-wise is reminiscent of an Assassin’s Creed game without the crowd hiding mechanic and more guns. Way more guns. After the reveal of the game demo, Ubisoft was a floodgate of information, promoting trailers and screenshots mere moments after the reveal. It’s easy to assume that more will be shown on this game during Ubisoft’s own Press Conference later today.
Other notable game demos were Tomb Raider, which featured Laura battling her way through a muddy environment, in cinematic gameplay that was very similar to the Uncharted franchise. As well as Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, which wrapped up the conference with an extensive demo centering on a squad trying to evacuate the President from downtown Los Angeles. Interestingly enough, this is Call of Duty game with prominent ladies, incidentally. Female president and Anderson, the jump jet pilot.
However, games were not the main focus of the briefing, as a good chunk of it was spent on updates to Xbox Live and how Microsoft is hoping to create the console into a means of converging media. Microsoft announces new media sharing app SmartGlass for Xbox 360, which is a tablet that the company hopes will immerse the way people view their media, by bringing cross-platform functionality. To be blunt, it appears to be Microsoft’s reaction to Nintendo’s Wii U tablet, but promises that the app will work with “all the devices [users] already own.” Kinect was also showcased, but now mostly for its voice commands in EA Sports games like Fifa 2013 and Madden 2013. Again, seeing is believing and it appears that the more peripherals Microsoft tries to tack on to the console, the more clunky the console feels.
They also Internet Explorer coming to Xbox Live, as well as NBA and NHL game packages. More channels are heading to console as well including Nickelodeon, Paramount, Machinima, Univision and a lot of ESPN integration.
All in all, the conference didn’t announce anything that was particularly exciting. It’s not surprising that Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 were received well, but when the bulk of a company’s announcements are forgotten the moment Trey Parker and Matt Stone step on stage to talk for a minute on the newest South Park title, it’s obvious you have a snore fest. Not even the sudden Usher Concert brought upon by the Dance Central 3 announcement was enough to bring the energy of the conference up.
The next of the Big Three to have their conference is SONY, who will be presenting tonight after Electronic Arts and Ubisoft and will (hopefully) have more games to discuss during their game conference.