E3 Begins – Microsoft Global Media Presentation

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So, the Microsoft E3 Conference is over. And aside a lot of connectivity rubbish and emphasis on bringing media together, what were the biggest game reveals during the hour or so we had in their company? Well, after the jump, let’s run through some of them, shall we? Seems like the thing to do…

 

Well, the first of the major E3 shows is over – Microsoft came, they saw and they delivered copious quantities of trashtalk. From bringing Internet Explorer to the X-Box to SmartGlass, a way to unify all your media devices, there was plenty there that was interesting but, otherwise, quite dull. What we wanted to see were the games. And what games did we see? Here is the rundown;

HALO 4
Halo 4 is probably one of the most hotly anticipated games in the last few years, but spare a thought for the game that the teaser mostly ripped off – Metroid Prime. In fact, the moment Halo 4 was being shown, Metroid Prime became one of the most tweeted phrases of the moment. When your big new sequel is reminding people of something else, you have a real problem on your hands. That said, it was achingly pretty and the CG rendering and animation was top notch.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist
The return of Sam Fisher reminded me a little of Resident Evil 5 – in a good way. And then the game began, with its blend of Resident Evil 5 and Uncharted adventuring sequences, blended together with the slick technology that only Sam could bring along to an international terrorist hotbed. Looking a hell of a lot better than the last offering, this actually looks like it might be a really, truly good game to play.

FIFA ’13
Well, what do you want me to say about this, huh? It’s FIFA, with more connectivity with the X-Box Kinect, allowing you to take control vocally and bark orders from the lines, or put words into the players mouths – even naughty ones, which resulted in a player being given a yellow card. The only not-realistic thing about this was the lack of booing and the violence that would commence after it…

Madden NFL ’13
I want to be clear I am not into American Football, but from what we saw, it is much the same deal here as it is with FIFA – bark orders, commands and take control, devise strategies via the SmartGlass connectivity or just sit back and let things play out. That the commentators seemed to react and comment accordingly to the play ensures that if you like Madden, this will be a far more immersive experience.

Fable: The Journey
There really was nothing in the teaser to suggest that anything that is being feared isn’t going to happen, and when a trailer spends more than a third of its time with a real guy with CG glowy magic effects, that suggests there’s probably something wrong with the content too. Which is a shame because what we saw is pretty, and nice, but it just seems too dark, too serious and too minimal for a decent Fable.

Gears of War: Judgement
I’ve said my peace on Gears of War, and I won’t go into it here. From the outset, this is not a sequel – this is being touted as an origins story, and that is the first thing I worry about. There was nothing in the way of actual gameplay, or what the story entails short of Baird being in chains. What has the naughty boy done? What is going on? Why do the Locust suddenly look a lot less humanoid than they did?

Forza: Horizon
I know from friends and acquaintances that Forza is a beloved racing franchise, so when you take it from the streets and expand it to freeways, motorways and gorgeous vistas in the mountains, lakes and valleys of the world, you’ve probably got the recipe for a very hot racing game at your fingertips. Like most racing games, it looks gorgeous, realistic and I expect if not demand that to carry through to handling and physics.

Tomb Raider
Lara is back, and man is she taking a beating in this reboot! Cutting to the chase here, this is without doubt one of the prettiest games they showed – Lara looks human and the sort of woman you’d like to just hug. There’s a conspiracy going down, human enemies to take out, action-packed setpieces and a sense of breadth and depth to the landscape that would make Nathan Drake blush. Welcome back Lara. Welcome home.

Ascend: New Gods
A brand new multiplayer fantasy brawler, with shades of Black and White and its creature creation, with some God of War-style fighting and an art style that seems cel-shaded and at times also not so. My guess is this is a PvP-focused sort of thing and that is no bad thing, but the studio behind it – they of Toy Soldiers – aren’t the most beloved, and it does look a little cheap and tacky. But that might be its key selling point.

Lococycle
There comes a time when you can’t say much about a teaser. Something to do with a super-sexy futuristic motorbike, about speed and about spy stuff, but with no actual gameplay and not even a hint of what genre it falls into, Lococycle is the sort of brief flash that intrigues for a mere moment before you forget about it, and that’s quite likely a shame because hey, don’t we all want a sentient motorbike?

Matter
When it came on to start with, the first thought that ran through my head was “Portal?”, which arguably can’t be the worst criticism to level at something. Not much gameplay but the trailer suggests that it is a science-fiction puzzle game, with lots of sharp cubes and clean lines and metals and blues and greys. We’ve been starved some good puzzlers in recent years, so Matter is definitely able to check the interested box.

Resident Evil 6
What can you say about this that hasn’t been said before? Resident Evil 6 looks faster, sharper and more solid than ever before, with more ways to move, to shoot and to attack, with fluid and swift transitions in melee combat to very solid feeling gunplay. We saw Leon and Claire trash a helicopter and get stuck in a big chamber packed full of zombies – really isn’t Leon’s day, and that’s a cliffhanger to latch onto…

Wreckateer
Crush The Castle and Angry Birds are 2D and so last year, so here comes Microsoft themselves to fill the gap in the 3D world that few of us were asking for. It’s essentially the same deal as the aforementioned games – castles and buildings need to be trashed, and their inhabitants crushed. There’s a rather medieval sense of humour to the proceedings, and it all looks very safe and very… umm… boring. Sorry.

South Park: The Stick of Truth
When Trey Parker mocks Microsoft in their OWN EVENT, you doff your cap to a man with balls like that. The game itself is very South Park – complete with its anarchic and insane humour and all the characters we love – and love to hate. An epic looking RPG with a nod to the fantasy and a real sense of scale and depth, it’s an impressive achievement to behold. Now we just need to see some more gameplay stuff.

Dance Central 3
Do I really need to explain this? More music, more dances, more Dance Central. There’s nothing here really that will shock or surprise, although I have to admit the surprise “guest appearance” of Usher at the end performing his latest single was kinda neat. I say “performing”, truth is most of the tweets were pointing out he was lip-syncing the whole way through, but I suppose that’s for them to fret over.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
And finally, to what will inevitably be the biggest game of the year. Black Ops 2 is more futuristic, it’s prettier (it actually is prettier! Oh my word did they actually do something to the engine? Pigs are flying!) and will undoubtedly send lots of people into a foaming frenzy. It’s going to be huge, and looks set to break more records. Maybe I’ll enjoy this one too… stranger things have happened!

That was a rundown of the games shown at Microsoft’s E3 conference. Now I need to go eat, shower and have a brief jog before the E3 and UbiSoft conferences in a couple of hours.

Check back throughout the week for more thoughts!

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