Microsoft came out swinging when it kicked off E3 2012 at its annual media briefing this morning. Xbox wowed the audience with a big Halo 4 presentation, the surprise announcement of Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and much more.
Leading things off was a killer look at Halo 4 that showed just how much 343 Studios has upped the ante on the world that Bungie built. Mixing live action video with in-game footage, we got our first taste of combat in the new game, and learned (to pretty much no one’s surprise) that the Forerunners do indeed factor into the plot of Halo 4 in a big way. Microsoft hasn’t released video of the demo yet, but I’ll post it when they do. In the meantime, enjoy these killer screenshots taken straight from the demo.
Next up, the crowd got a very pleasant surprise: a brand new Splinter Cell game! Splinter Cell: Blacklist finds Sam Fisher put in charge of a new “4th Echelon” black ops team, and the game showed off some beautifully fluid take-downs.
Nothing new was revealed about the all-Kinect Fable: The Journey, but we got a new gameplay trailer that showed how Kinect controls are used to cast magical spells.
Gears of War: Judgment was formally announced with fan-favorite Baird as its lead character. Still no idea if it’s a prequel or a sequel.
After a Forza: Horizon trailer and some new Xbox Live advancements, Microsoft announced “Xbox SmartGlass,” a new app that extends the capabilities of your Xbox 360 via your smartphone or tablet computer. For example, if you watch Game of Thrones on your Xbox via HBO Go, SmartGlass gives you a map of Westeros that follows along with the action on the show, showing you exactly where things are happening. It also provides expansions to popular Xbox games. Might Xbox be trying to steal some of Nintendo’s Wii U thunder with this addition of a second, handheld screen for gaming? Looks like.
Crystal Dynamics came out to show more of their incredible Tomb Raider reboot. Every time I see more of this game, the more I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I’ve never been much of a Tomb Raider fan in the past, but this one is near the top of my can’t-wait list, because it’s such a smart new take on the character. The storytelling appears to be top-notch and the survivalist-driven gameplay — forcing Lara to gradually become a hardened, resourceful warrior — just looks brilliant. I don’t understand why I’m not playing this game right now.
After so much talk about major franchises, Microsoft announced three brand new franchises for Xbox Live Arcade. Ascend: New Gods is a God of War style game from the makers of Toy Soldiers. It’s not entirely clear what LocoCycle is, but it appears to star a sentient, “female” motorcycle. And Matter is a Tron-esque game set in a digital world, and it’s got blockbuster movie director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean, Rango) as its creator.
Resident Evil 6 looks set to feed the zombie lovers out there with loads of cinematic, over-the-top zombie-killing action set in a huge metropolis.
Wreckateer is another new Xbox Live Arcade franchise, something of a Medieval Angry Birds kind of thing, controlled entirely via Kinect.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone appeared on stage to talk about their new game, South Park: The Stick of Truth. The game is made to look and feel like you’re inside the TV show. It stars the four main characters on the TV series, but you play as “the new kid in town” — a South Park avatar version of yourself. Looks like it’ll more than scratch the itch for the faithful.
After a live appearance by Usher — where he demonstrated the crotch-grabbing dance moves you’ll be able to pull off in Dance Central 3 — Microsoft’s event drew to a close with a brand new demo from Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The frenzied demo showed a metropolis under siege by bad guys and robotic drones run amok. In the middle of this madness, you and your teammates are tasked with protecting the President and getting her to safety. With this one, Treyarch seems to have turned the intensity up to eleven, and the crowd’s response was suitably excited.
Next up, we’ll see what Sony has up its sleeve for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.