Halo 4, Kinect and Tomb Raider lead MS E3 presser

Monday, 6 June 2011 06:23 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Microsoft has delivered its E3 2011 press conferencing, with heavy focus on Kinect and confirmation of a new Halo trilogy for Xbox 360.

Microsoft E3 2011 presser

Watch video of the entire conference here.

Halo 4 out next Christmas. It’s the start of a new trilogy.

Modern Warfare 3 and Tomb Raider gameplay demos shown.

Minecraft exclusively on 360 this winter, Kinect support included.

Mass Effect 3 confirmed as supporting Kinect for both story choices and combat.

All future Tom Clancy titles will support Kinect. Ghost Recon was shown using the motion sensor.

The next “Xbox Experience” will launch this autumn, featuring voice-controlled search.

Core titles were kept at the front of the presentation, with Modern Warfare 3 and Tomb Raider leading the show, but Kinect was the main event, permeating the entire presentation, with Mass Effect 3, Ghost Recon, Fable and more being confirmed as using the motion tech.

It was a Modern Warfare 3 demo, though, that kicked off the event with a play of a level called Hunter Killer. It was an underwater diving affair controlled by Infinity Ward’s Rob Bowling.

After dodging some Russian mines, a submarine floated overhead, with the player tasked with dooming it with a mine.

The diver emerged from the water to see New York, with the sub breaching in front of his mask and a group firefight ensuing, divers dropping grenades into the ship itself.

The demo then turned into corridor shooting in the submarine, before leaping forward “in the interest of time.”

After some slo-mo shooting, the assault team stole codes from a dead soldier and launched a salvo of missiles before racing away through aircraft carriers and other ships, attacking boats with automatic weapons.

The burning Manhattan skyline closed out the demo to rapturous applause. It was “not shit”.

Bowling and Sledgehammer’s Glen Schofield then addressed the crowd. The game was described as “absolutely huge”. Sledgehammer has been working on the game for the past year.

Xbox boss Don Mattrick came out, claiming we are facing an “incredible time of growth an innovation,” before moving onto Square Enix’s hotly-tipped Tomb Raider reboot.

Crystal Dynamics head Darrell Gallagher described the game as a “true origin story”.

Gameplay was shown for the first time. Lara was seen limping through a cavern filled with skulls and candles carrying a torch. She was attacked by a man in what was basically a horror scenario, before swimming away.

Lara needs to use her “survival instincts” to escape, Gallagher said, as well as physics puzzles.

She escaped the tunnel after being re-attacked to find a bay full of wrecked ships.

The demo was full of water, grunting and fire, and the game really did look gritty, realistic and just plain fantastic. Without doubt, a highly impressive comeback for Lara.

Peter Moore then emerged to confirm that four EA Sports titles will support Kinect in 2012, including Tiger Woods, Madden and FIFA.

The Halo 4 trailer.

Ray Muzyka was next, confirming Kinect support for Mass Effect 3, taking the “immersion to an even higher level through voice recognition”.

The RPG’s Kinect features were shown, with Shepard being controlled with a normal controller, but choices being selected by simply talking.

Kinect commands also worked in combat, with the player ordering his party by voice.

“Epic, awesome, fun,” the BioWare boss called the demo.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier was next, with Ubisoft president Yves Guillemot coming out on stage after a trailer to shown how Kinect will “enhance” core games with body-tracking and voice.

A Future Soldier system called Gunsmith was shown, with the Ubi rep changing gun parts with both gesture and voice.

He said “optimise for close combat” and the gun on the screen altered with the appropriate parts, and then controlled the game with gestures, opening and closing his hand to fire the gun.

It was confirmed that all future Tom Clancy titles will support Kinect.

“Entertainment”

This was followed by a voice-controlled 360 entertainment demo.

YouTube was confirmed as coming to Xbox Live as a illustration of Microsoft increasing its Live partnerships “by a factor of 10″.

Bing was also confirmed for Xbox, and was shown being used with voice control.

“TV is more amazing when you are the controller,” said Microsoft.

LiveTV was confirmed as coming to Xbox 360 this year, not only in the US but “around the world”. Relationships in the UK and France were mentioned.

The next “Xbox Experience” will launch this autumn.

Gears 3 was shown as a spearhead for 360’s exclusives for the year. Cliffy B and Ice-T demoed the game in co-op.

A “pissed” sea creature that resembled a kraken was shown smashing a ship, with delta squad fighting to kill it.

Silverback mechs were shown in use in a multi-stage boss fight graced with staggering visuals. Incredible stuff.

Ice-T described it as “badass”. The rapper was so excited about the game that he’d got his rock band, Bodycount, back together to sing a song about Gears 3’s Horde mode. We weren’t allowed to watch this on the stream, though.

Ryse was shown, a Rome-based Kinect combat game in which the player threw a knife into a man’s head. This is the Crytek project teased last year. Microsoft moved swiftly on, though, to Halo.

The first announcement was the Halo CE HD remake, “fully remastered” with seven multiplayer maps and full Live co-op.

The game’s called Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary. There was no date.

Turn 10 showed Forza 4, playing a trailer that could probably be accurately described as “car porn”. The developer confirmed Kinect integration, voice control, headtracking and monthly expansions.

Next was Lionhead’s Peter Molyneux, instantly confirming Fable: The Journey, a way to “connect you to Albion like never before”.

A girl was shown escaping a smoke-based monster on a stagecoach. The whole thing was controlled with Kinect and gestures. It was a first-person affair, with the player casting spells by raising his hands, rubbing his hands, and so on. He also fought creatures by swiping at them.

Then a bombshell: Minecraft was announced as a console exclusive on 360 for this winter, Kinect support included.

Disney Kinect came next, demoed by a couple of kids on stage. There was coin-collecting, waterfall-dodging and all the rest, spectacular arm-waving included. It’s out this holiday.

The Star Wars Kinect demo showed spaceships, R2D2, C3PO, stormtroopers, lightsabers, flying creatures and pod racing. An airstrike section featured, with a voice command turning a lightsaber on.

The player was seen using Force powers by raising his hands, and deflecting beams with his lightsaber. The whole thing was gesture-based. The character was moved forward by physically lunging the body forwards.

There was more. Double Fine’s Tim Schafer came out to talked about Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster. Apparently, “your child can learn valuable life-lessons through the magic of Kinect.” Fancy.

Gameplay showed a man and boy playing together, scaring monsters and such. It looked stupidly cute.

And on came Kudo. The Kinect boss, for the record, was wearing his sunglasses. He announced Kinect Funlabs, a “permanent addition” to the Xbox Live dashboard, a place to check out various innovations using Kinect.

A demo was shown in which Kinect created an Avatar, clothes, hair and all the rest replicated.

Kinect finger tracking was shown, with a demo of drawing in the air with fingers. The drawing was “in 3D,” with the man on stage able to draw around an image of his arms with a sparkler effect.

Kinect object capture was shown, with the camera scanning in everyday stuff like plushies. You can then control the object with gestures.

Kinect Funlabs is live today. You can get it now.

There was even more. Kinect Sports Season 2, which includes six new sports, such as skiing and tennis. Big Park’s developing this. Not Rare. It’s out this year.

Golf and American football were seen, controlled with, obviously, gesture and voice controls. The football demo was fairly embarrassing.

Harmonix announced Dance Central 2. Songs from the first game can be carried across to the sequel, which has a campaign, voice controls and “simultaneous multiplayer dancing”: this is basically two people dancing at the same time with two Avatars on screen.

And then, finally, came the inevitable. Mattrick came back on to wrap up and announce Halo 4, the “dawn of a new trilogy”.

A trailer was shown of Master Chief bursting out of a pod into a burning ship flying through space. This got a good cheer. It’s out next Christmas.

And that was that. The Microsoft conference is just the first in a long opening E3 day, with press conferences from EA (12:30pm PST, 3:30pm EST, 8:30pm BST, 9:30pm CET, 5:30am Sydney), Ubisoft (2:30pm PST, 5:30pm EST, 10:30pm BST, 11:30pm CET, 7:30am Sydney) and Sony (5.00pm PST, 8.00pm EST, 1.00am BST, 2.00am CET, 10:30am Sydney) all to follow.

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