E3: Xbox Unveils Halo 4, Kinect Fable, Live TV

This morning in Los Angeles, Microsoft promised to show off “the future of gaming,” and their vision of the future clearly looks an awful lot like Kinect. Let’s go over the highlights — and loads of screens & vids…

Xbox always has a lively show, keeping things moving fast from one game to the next, never spending too much time on any one thing. For my money, they typically put on the funnest, showiest, and overall best media event at E3. Sure, it’s Microsoft and they’re nerdy, but at least they have lots of money to throw around.

Halo 4 was announced as the start of a new trilogy starring the Master Chief. A trailer depicted Cortana waking the Chief up from his deep-space slumber to help her escape a dangerous situation that threatens the entire universe. Halo 4 is set for a November 2012 release. In the meantime, that rumored remaster of the original Halo game turned out to be true. It’s called Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, and it’ll be out this November.

A brand new entry in the Fable franchise was announced, but it’s not Fable 4. It’s called Fable: The Journey, the first Fable game constructed from the ground up for Kinect. It’s set 5 years after the events of Fable 3 and uses Kinect’s gestures to cast spells as you fight for the future of Albion. No word yet on a release date.

Mass Effect 3 will use Kinect for voice recognition. That was the big headline from BioWare. ME‘s dialogue trees can now be controlled by speaking directly to the game. It creates a faster, more fluid experience, further immersing you into the game. You can also direct your allies in the actions you want them to take, just by saying it.

The long-awaited Kinect Star Wars game was at last shown off, and it looks like everything in the game is controlled via gestures. Mime swinging a lightsaber, and your on-screen character does the same. Lean forward and your avatar uses a burst of Force speed to run fast to the next enemy character. The trailer shows off what it can do best, so take a look.

One game that’s going to come out of E3 with some new buzz is Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, because it’s going fully Kinect-operable. Future Soldier might just be the full-body FPS Kinect shooter we’ve been waiting for. GRFS provided a genuine “wow” moment when a demo player expanded his arms to explode outward all of the components of a weapon, so he could fully customize all of its inner workings. Movement and firing were also controlled via Kinect, using unique gestures. It looks like it might just be something special.

Kinect Disneyland Adventures is destined to sell millions of copies. It’s exactly what it sounds like: the entire Disneyland theme park in California reproduced — down to precise details — as a Kinect-friendly video game. Your Xbox avatar can enjoy everything Disneyland has to offer, ride all the rides, interact with Disney characters, and even do things you can’t do in real life, like fly with Peter Pan. There will be plenty of challenges and family-friendly activities built in. I know my kids will go nuts over this one.

Kinect Fun Labs, a new Xbox Live service that goes live today, expands the functionality of your Kinect sensor to be able to try out new technologies, such as performing full-body scans and translating the data into a customized avatar for you — complete with your real-world clothes.

Live TV is coming to Xbox Live, though Microsoft was mum on the details. From what we saw, it looked as though MS is partnering with networks to bring live television to Xbox 360 users. It’s an alternative to cable. But we have no idea on pricing or when it will be available.

Minecraft is coming to Xbox Live! It will also be Kinect enabled, to allow for a new kind of interaction with the popular indie game. You’ll also be able to interact between Xbox and PC versions of Minecraft. Xbox 360 has an exclusive deal to have Minecraft on their console, so don’t look for Wii or PS3 versions anytime soon.

Crytek announced a new game called Ryse, an action game set during the Roman Empire, and made for Kinect.

A major new twist was added to the Xbox UI: Bing search. It’s a new, easier-than-ever way to access all of your content, or content you can purchase. Search for “Harry Potter,” for example, and a series of results will come up showing all available Harry Potter movies, video games, and anything else available. Access it all simply by talking to it, using Kinect.

In addition to all this, new videos and previews were shown from Dance Central 2, Forza Motorsport 4, Gears of War 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Kinect Sports: Season Two, Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster, the new Tomb Raider, and more. Enjoy all the screens we could get our hands on, below.

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Robin Parrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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