The Average Gamer

E3 2012 – Microsoft Press Conference Summary

Microsoft held their E3 media briefing today, revealing footage from new games, new video channels coming to the dashboard and, of course, plenty of Kinect features shoehorned into core franchises.


Halo 4 – We saw a blend of live-action and CG footage of a giant hulking UNSC ship. Commissioned to bring people together, not to wage war, the ship inevitably comes under attack and slowly, gracefully sets on a collision course with some mountains. We see Master Chief in the jungle, making his way towards a large floating metallic sphere. The jungle is thick. So thick, in fact, that you can’t simply cut your way through the foliage with your powered suit and . Yup, even in the wilderness, Halo is as corridory as ever.

The Covenant are nowhere to be seen. Instead, Chief is accosted by part-mechanical drones; buzzing flies that shoot flame-like pellets, insect-like humanoids and more.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 – The sequel to CODBLOPS was confirmed with a live gameplay demo. We watched a squad escort some injured VIP civilians in an armoured bus through an attack on LA. Drones swooped dramatically through the skies, blowing up police helicopters, cars and motorcycles, eventually destroying the freeway.

Our intrepid protagonist took on a sniper rifle, providing cover for the team to escape by using a scope equipped with some form of X-ray technology to snipe enemies through a container truck. A later section saw our man shoot some other men in a shopping arcade with quadcopter drones hovering at head-height for additional fire support. It’s all very technologically fancy and dramatic and also remarkably grey. Let’s hope they add some blue and greens in the coming months. Maybe even a red or yellow if they want to get fancy.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist – Sam Fisher is back (again). This time, terrorists are running something called the “Blacklist”. It’s a countdown of terrorist attacks and the attackers have demanded that the US withdraw troops from their countries or they will “bring the war to you”. Fisher has been taking lesson from Ezio and can now scale rocky cliffs, hang from balconies and assassinate unwary guards. You can even use the Kinect microphone to draw the guards near by shouting from a hidden position.

Killing In Motion is the marketing term that Ubisoft have adopted to refer to a new ability – shooting anonymous henchmen in slow-motion. We’ll find out how that works when Nick checks out the Ubisoft booth on Thursday. Blacklist will feature three modes: Single-player, co-op and Spies vs Mercs.

Gears of War Judgement – “Leaked” last week, today we were shown a short trailer for the game featuring a city in flames and a man in chains. This prequel to the Gears games follows Damon Baird, Augustus “Cole Train” Cole and two new squad members, Sofia Hendricks and Garron Paduk. Together they make up Kilo Squad and we’ll play through the immediate aftermath of Emergence Day, the beginning of the war that destroys Halvo Bay and ultimately, the planet Sera.

Resident Evil 6 – In this short demo Leon rises from unconsciousness in a burning street and immediately charges into a destroyed building full of zombies because he needs to save some BSA agents. After shooting a bunch of slow-moving zombies with a shotgun, he blows up some fast-moving zombies with a grenade, decapitates another with a fire-axe and then mashes the brains out of yet another with his bare hands.

Instead of finding the agents, he dodges a bunch of exploding cars, leaps into a QTE-powered helicopter and flies away, stopping to shoot another zombie in the head because it climbed into the chopper before they escaped. It’s very action-packed and doesn’t bode well for people who want to see more survival and horror moments.

Tomb Raider – Lara sneaks and leaps her way around destructible environments. She uses a bow and arrow to shoot people in the head and a shotgun to destroy struts and send barrels rolling onto her enemies. Later sections include falling down a waterfall and piloting a parachute through trees. There was a suspicious lack of tombs and raiding. I’ll see this on Wednesday so expect more info later in the week.

Dance Central 3 – this was a very brief reveal announcement. Basically… it exists! And Usher was involved! I’ll be touring the Microsoft stand tomorrow evening so will get more info then.

Forza Horizon – We saw car pr0n. All of the car pr0n. Forza Horizon takes you away from the tracks and onto the open roads of Colorado. It includes mixed surface and dirt tracks, street races and festival events and a 24-hour dynamic lighting system that introduces night racing to the franchise.

FIFA 13 and Madden NHL – Both these games now have Kinect voice commands. Instead of having to deal with pesky menus, you can just shout “Substitute 13. Substitute. SUB-STI-TUTE THIR-TEEN” like a real manager.

Fable: The Journey – Despite looking more and more like this game is definitely on rails, I’m still interested. Two years in and we still haven’t seen a decent implementation of gesture-based magic on Kinect. All they showed during the conference was a trailer of monsters and flames but if there’s anything playable during this E3, by the gods I will bloody well play it.


More voice commands – You can just say the names of films now, instead of going “Play 1”. You can also browse by genre. Apparently this is new?

Nike+ Kinect Training – Nike have been doing digital fitness for a good few years now. Nick’s been using the Nike+ iPod running tracker for a long time, tracking his running speed and distance with vocal feedback and encouragement from sport celebrities like Paula Radcliffe. Nike are now moving into Kinect with a new title that provides fitness workouts and integrates with Nike+ Fuel’s existing tracking and motivation system. More info on the Nike+ Kinect Training website.

SmartGlass – The SmartGlass system is Microsoft’s response to our habit of looking at phones andtablets while watching TV or playing games. Games like Madden NFL can be supplemented with a tablet, using its touch-screen interface to set up plays more easily. When watching supported shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones you can see supplementary info – in this case, a map tracking where the action takes place across Westeros and beyond, as you’re watching the show. I don’t know how well-supported this will be in the UK but it’s an interesting concept.

SmartGlass will also let you watch shows across multiple devices, much like Netflix does right now. Watch half a film on your tablet while on the train, pick it up where you left off through your Xbox when you get home. I don’t know if this only applies to streaming or whether it uses some form of local server to watch across multiple devices and your home network. Might look into it.

New Titles

Ascend: New Gods – This is an action-RPG on XBLA, from the developers of Toy Soldiers. You play warriors known at “Caos”, who serve the gods and fight the giant Titans as they try to destroy your castles. Or something. All we saw was a couple of minutes of big monsters swinging axes at buildings and each other but apparently you can fight on your mobile phone as well. I’ll look into this.

Matter – This game is apparently the vision of Gore Verbinski (director of Pirates of The Caribbean). The clip showed a shiny ball rolling down a shiny floor with spiky balls hovering overhead in a menacing way. Uh… okay, then.

LocoCycle – A voice-over proclaimed that something called I.R.I.S. has been trained in over 44 forms of armed combat, fluent in over 50 languages and customs and blah blah some kind of spy-boasting stuff. But cunning twist… it’s a motorcycle. Buh?

Wreckateer – This Kinect game seems very much like a kids title. You play a ballista operator, using gestures to load, aim, fire and guide projectiles into castles to destroy them. It looks a little like a 3D Angry Birds/Crush The Castle type game. I can see children getting very excited about waving their arms in circles to spin the projectile after. Adults will get bored (or tired) very quickly.


This year seems to be about linear action shooters. I’m initially apprehensive but perhaps they were all just demos designed more for spectacle than representative gameplay? The survival horror game appears to have no horror. The tomb exploration game appears to have neither tombs, nor exploration. The linear shooters remain linear shooters, so I suppose that’s all right.

I would have expected more info on the new titles – all we got were teasers, but none really teased enough to give an idea of what the hell kind of game each was. Still, we’ll find out more on Tuesday night.

I don’t really see the point in “SmartGlass” as a consumer. If you’re trying to flog your OS platform across loads of devices then yeah, great. But a lot of the features shown are already available in some form or another through apps we already have. Lots of nice-to-haves but no killer feature that would sell me on a Windows Mobile phone or tablet.

The Nike+ Fitness thing is okay but ultimately, it looks to me like just another fitness title. Nice if you already use Nike Fuel on other platforms but what I really want is an integrated fitness tracking API available for multiple titles. I play Dance Central or UFC Personal Trainer or Your Shape Fitness Evolved, depending on what mood I’m in. These all feature fitness trackers but none give the complete picture. Solve that problem and Kinect will be the ultimate fitness tool.

Which games do you want to learn more about? Let me know, I’ll be sure to ask lots of questions about them tomorrow.

Catch up on all our E3 2012 coverage here.

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