E3 2012 – Microsoft Conference Recap and Review

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E3 kicked off this morning with Microsoft’s press conference. With dancing, fitness, montages, speeches and pretty colors, did they have what it takes to stand out in the biggest gaming event on the planet? Well, the verdict for the other conferences aren’t in, but we’ve got the recap and review of Microsoft’s debut for you right here. The title for each game’s section will link you to the relevant footage, so be sure to check all of those out! Enjoy!

Halo 4

As expected, this was probably the highlight of their conference. Showing some actual gameplay footage from the campaign during the show, Microsfot definitely hit a heart string with fans. The game looks beautiful, cinematic, and action-packed. Cortana seems to be a lot more vocal and involved than usual, and the montage/clips of the story at the end hint at a pretty interesting story line that is sure to keep gamers engaged. Hopefully the details will continue to roll out for Microsoft’s big hitting franchise, and 38’s debut effort.


Splinter Cell: Blacklist

The fantastic debut trailer for this game showed the classic stealthy gameplay that fans of the series have come to know and love. With dramatic kill sequences and fluid animations, the game is shaping up quite nicely to be another worthy entry in the franchise. New to the series as well is the ability to perform actions using your voice with Kinect. The demonstration showed the player calling out to a guard to gain his attention, or calling in an air strike on a target using your actual voice. Hopefully more details on this game come out soon!


Forza Horizon

Microsoft may not have a ton of exclusives to show off, but the ones they do have are typically pure quality, and it’s no different with this game. Sporting some of the best visuals seen in a game to date, this new entry in the popular racing series promises excitement all around. Sources say it will employ a more open world approach, but maintain that same realistic gamepaly and style fans love the most. Keep an eye out on this one for more information as well.


Resident Evil 6

As one of the most hotly anticipated games of the year, this was another standout highlight of the conference. Microsoft showed off a good bit of gameplay footage showing some nice movement while shooting and lots of zombie slaying. The game is looking quite good so far, and the urban setting will be a nice change of pace for the franchise.


Fable: The Journey

Microsoft continued to show lackluster footage of this Kinect-only Fable experience. Given Molyneux’s history of empty promises, I cannot be anything other than skeptical. The video shown at E3 didn’t really show any true gameplay, displayed disappointing visuals, and a truly gimmicky montage of a kid throwing fireballs. Maybe this will eventually turn into something else, but as of now, an entirely Kinect controlled Fable game is anything but excited.


Tomb Raider

As expected after that fantastic debut gameplay trailer, Crystal Dynamics followed up by showing more beautiful footage of the game in action. Lara looks grittier and more realistic than she ever has, making her sexier than ever. With lots of action, excitement, and suspense – it looks like it will be competing directly with Uncharted for cinematic and engrossing gameplay experiences. My excitement level continues to rise for this sure to be gem of a game.


Gears of War: Judgement

This game promises to be more of the proven third-person cover-based shooting Gears fans love. Unfortunately there was not an actual demo of the game at the Conference, but they did have a great new trailer. The game takes place 15 years before Gears 1, starring Cole and Baird. Keep an eye on The Koalition for all the details!


South Park: The Stick of Truth

This was my personal favorite moment of the Microsoft conference. I love the show, and seeing Trey Parker and Matt Stone out there showing off their game was just a dream come true. This is shaping up to finally be the game that the show has always deserved – with art that 100% reflects the show, voice acting by the creators, and a story line created directly by them, it may finally happen. You should definitely have this on your radar!


The Other Games

This category is for all of the other games shown, whether they be smaller titles, or just teasers of stuff that no one really knows much about yet. First off, we had a trailer for an unseen game called Ascend: New Gods. You can check out the trailer here, as it appears to be some sort of action game based in a fantasy setting. Not enough information exists to make a real judgement, but it exists and looks to be a 360 exclusive.

There were teasers for two games called Loco Cycle, which seems to be a game about some type Tron-like motorcycle. The other teaser showed a game called Matter, which could be anything from a Portal style puzzle game, to a physics based game in the vein of Super Monkey Ball or Hamster Ball. No details on these games exist as of yet, but they are worth mentioning.

Finally, the Kinect had its own set of games to show off. While these first two can be played fine without the Kinect, these features were highlighted. First off were details surrounding Madden 2013. They brought Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana out on the stage for a “demonstration.” He could call out actual plays for audibles, call out formation changes, and even say “Hike!” in order to snap the ball. Whether these features will actually work as well as shown in the demonstration is yet to be seen, but doubtful.

Next up they showed off some Kinect enabled features for Fifa 2013. The Kinect allowed to player to select menu options, call formations, perform substitutes, and at one part even got called on a penalty for mouthing off to the referee. While realism is the ultimate goal for sports games like this, you have to stop and think whether or not something like that might be pushing it a little far…time will tell.

Finally the Kinect set of games rounded off with the announcement of Dance Central 3, followed by a performance from Usher. Before his performance, he made sure to be as corny as possible and worked in the phrase “Dance is central to my life.” While I’m sure Harmonix and Microsoft appreciated the reference, it made me cringe a little bit. The conference itself then ended with a Black Ops 2 trailer, as is expected given recent history.


What Else Happened?

If you think that was all that happened, you are sorely mistaken. While these are some of the key highlights, the fact of the matter is that many of these gameplay demos or teaser trailers went by awfully fast. The majority of this conference seemed to focus on the next set of features I’ll explain. All of these discussions happened somewhere near the end/middle of the conference, with some games surrounded for padding and to disguise the real focus of the meeting.

The first big addition is Smart Glass, a new feature or integration for Xbox Live. This feature was explained as an integration of Xbox into the rest of your social and entertainment life. They used examples of the introduction of Internet Explorer and how it functions with Bing on your Xbox, as well as Kinect. They showed how tablet and smartphone devices can be used to control the cursor on screen, as well as interact with entertainment modules on your Xbox. Overall, this looks like the overarching goal Microsoft has been building towards: connecting an entire household, while having the Xbox 360 as the entertainment hub.

Additionally, they unveiled a Kinect-only game/fitness portal titled Nike+. With Nike+, it can track your entire range of body movements. They showed how it could be used to track your fitness progress, measure your body, check the angles on your stretches and exercises, and much more. There is even a digital fitness coach that watches your actions to make sure you are exercising properly. This seems like a great addition, and has the support of a company like Nike, which is always a good sign.

Finally, Microsoft also unveiled certain television partnerships as well. They will bringing NBA and NHL coverage to the 360, to go along with their current offerings. In addition to this, is a 24/7 ESPN service that promises complete coverage. They also announced the ability to watch a movie on your phone on a plane…then resume from where you left off on your 360 once you get home! Great new feature!…



If you watched the press conference, you will probably understand what I mean by disappointed. While they did show off Halo, had a couple teasers of upcoming exclusive titles, and some cool and shiny new Kinect features – the fact of the matter is that there really wasn’t a whole lot to sink your teeth into. The majority of the games they showed are multiplatform and if not, are just new entries in stale franchises.

As a company, Microsoft is probably making the right move. They are future-proofing their brand by expanding into the entire entertainment sphere. People use 360’s for gaming sometimes, but it quickly becoming the entertainment center of many living rooms, with all the features you would want right at your fingertips – and if you have the Kinect, just by speaking the word. With all of that being said however, as a gamer, I came away severely disappointed. It doesn’t look like the core gaming audience that helped make the Xbox 360 what is is today has much to really grasp onto at the moment, and that is quite a shame.

Did you see Microsoft’s conference, or just want to chime in? We encourage you to leave your comments below, and keep an eye out for recaps of all of the other conferences right here at The Koalition!

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David Jagneaux Senior Editor
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