E3 2012: Halo 4, Splinter Cell and Lara lead MS presser

Monday, 4 June 2012 10:51 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Microsoft’s E3 2012 press conference was headlined by Tomb Raider and Black Ops II gameplay as well as the first showing of Halo 4’s campaign and the announcement of Splinter Cell: Blacklist.

MS E3 2012 presser – at a glance

Call of Duty: Black Ops II gameplay was shown. Xbox 360 will have timed exclusive DLC.

Halo 4 campaign demoed.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist was confirmed and shown.

A playable section from the later part of Tomb Raider was seen, looking for all the world like Uncharted. Xbox 360 will get timed exclusive DLC.

Gears of War: Judgment was trailered.

Harmonix announced Dance Central 3. Usher played a track for it.

Madden and FIFA will now have Kinect controls. Madden’s out August 28.

Forza Horizon is releasing October 23.

Xbox Music was announced and demoed. It’s out this year for 360.

SmartGlass, a Microsoft app which syncs iOS Windows and Android tablets and phone with 360 was announced. It’s out this autumn.

Internet Explorer coming to Xbox 360 this year. It can be controlled by phones, tablets and Kinect.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 press conference in Los Angeles today was dominated by a predictable showing of strong triple-A software and the impressive announcement of SmartGlass, an app for synching mobile devices with Xbox 360 and Live.

A Halo 4 trailer kicked off the event, showing single-player action, Master Chief moving through jungle with Cortana talking in his ears.

The first showing of the game’s campaign, the demo saw Chief fight against “defence AIs” that were “definitely not Covenant” and ended up in a tense fight against a non-organic enemy. He ended up using Forerunner tech.

The plot seems to have something to do with an AI being put into service seven years ago and only having a year to live. The demo was greeted by loud cheers.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist, as expected, was confirmed with a trailer. The game’s story sees a group of nations create a blacklist, which amounts to attacking US troops. A section on the Iran-Iraq border was seen, with Sam Fisher killing, climbing and “taking out targets quickly and fluidly”.

A Kinect feature was shown, with the player saying, “Hey, you,” at the screen in order to attract an enemy. Fisher entered a heavy firefight, ordering in airstrikes using Kinect voice commands. Ubisoft described the game as “the most ambitious Splinter Cell yet,” with co-op, campaign and Spies vs Mercs. It’s out spring 2013.

It’s in the game

EA Sports boss Andy Wilson then came onto stage to confirm Kinect integration for FIFA and Madden. Players can talk to other players and even swear at the referee.

Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana showed off the Madden Kinect functionality, speaking to the game to make pre-snap calls.

Madden 2013 is out August 28.

Fable: The Journey came next with a new trailer, showing the fireball-throwing seen at Microsoft’s San Francisco Spring Showcase this year.

“Only the best games are on Xbox,” said Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Studios . “This will be the biggest year for games on Xbox.”

He showed a trailer for Gears of War: Judgment, a touch of CG showing Delta Squad in chains. It’s out “2013”. A Forza Horizon trailer followed, showing Imprezas and other road cars racing to dubstep across an island. It’s out October 23.

A string of service announcements started with confirmation that Bing voice search is to be expanded into 12 different languages this year, potentially reaching another “half a billion people”.

Nickelodeon, Paramount, Machinima and a Spanish video provider were all confirmed as new live partners. NBA and NHL programming was confirmed for Xbox 360.

Xbox Music was announced and trailered, which will add 30 million tracks to Xbox 360. It’s out this year. Nike was confirmed as a major partner for Xbox, in a collaboration described as “the future of fitness”. Nike’s Stefan Olander talking about the sports manufacturer’s digital services before announcing Nike+ Kinect Training, a system which provides a “personalised digital training experience”. You get phone updates every time you’re due a workout, and assessments every four weeks. It also hooks you up with like-minded gamers. It’s a retail product: box art was shown.

There was a nice surprise among all the predictability. Xbox Live boss Marc Whitten came out to show Xbox SmartGlass, which hooks up Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices together. You’ll be able to watch a movie on your tablet, then stop watching and start watching again at the same place on your 360. This was an impressive demo. Whitten’s phone and tablet were feeding info on Game of Thrones to him while he watched it on TV, with all devices synched.

Further, Madden was shown being controlled with a tablet, and Halo 4 Waypoint updates were seen being transferred from game to a tablet in real-time. With SmartGlass, you’ll also be able to control the 360 dashboard using your phone.

Internet Explorer was announced for Xbox 360 this year. Whitten controlled it on the screen using his voice through Kinect, playing Flash movies from the internet on his TV.

“This is the web transformed for TV,” he said.

He moved the cursor around on the screen using his phone. You can pinch and zoom on your mobile device. SmartGlass is out this autumn. Windows 8 integration was also confirmed.

Uncharted waters

Then we were back to the games. Crystal Dynamics showed Tomb Raider in playable form. It was “from later in the game,” and showed Lara using cover and her bow and arrow in a firefight. This looked very much influenced by Uncharted.

Lara was trying to find her friend, Sam, running and jumping over slat bridges and using a rope slide. She used flaming arrows to ignite enemies, swapped the bow for a shotgun and performed knife kills. There was a section in fast-flowing water where she had to dodge obstacles as she was pulled down a river.

She eventually parachuted over a cliff and glided through a forest, falling through pine trees in Rambo-esque fashion.

The first piece of Tomb Raider’s DLC will be a 360 exclusive.

Spencer came back out to announce some exclusives. Ascend New Gods from Signal Studios was shown, a fantasy action title in the vein of God of War. LocoCycle from Twisted Pixel, and Matter, from a partnership with Gore Verbinski of Pirates of the Caribbean, will both release next year.

Capcom showed a playable section of Resident Evil 6, with Leon dutifully refusing to abandon survivors and throwing grenades at the horde. The demo culminated with Leon running away while everything blew up, a helictoper crashed and Leon and companion fell into a group of zombies. Something to note: there were a bunch of QTEs in this.

Alex Ruiz from the Xbox Live team showed of Kinect Live title Wreckateer. This was shown in San Francisco earlier this year. You essentially catapult rocks at castles with your arms. It’s fun.

South Park: The RPG was also seen. This is from THQ and Obsidian. There was a trailer and some gameplay. It looked simple and funny, as you’d expect. Trey Parker and Matt Stone came out on stage and ripped the shit out of Microsoft. The crowd liked it a great deal. They said they needed the game to feel as though you were playing in an episode of South Park, so it had to have a “crappy” look. In the game, you’re the new kid in time and are trying to become the fifth boy in the group.

Harmonix announced Dance Central 3. Microsoft managed to get Usher on stage performing a track. He got a big cheer.

Don came back on with a “wow”.

“That was really great,” he said, saying the Microsoft is “ushering” in a new, golden age of entertainment.

The final game was Black Ops II, obviously. Mattrick confirmed that 360 would, again, get exclusive content. A new demo was shown, this time of gameplay. It started in an APC, with protagonist Mason protecting the president. They were driving down an LA freeway when a helicopter got rocketed, someone shouted “holy shit” and everything turned black.

Gameplay included climbing on top of vehicles and using a futuristic heavy machine gun. Chatter included “sitrep” and “RPG”. There was a sniping section involving rounds which could be charged to be powerful enough to shoot through walls.

The freeway collapsed and the demo moved to close combat in buildings and streets. This looked very much like Call of Duty, so worries the future setting would dilute the formula may well be unfounded. The fighting took place around the Staples Center in LA. A building collapsed and the president was rescued. Mason took off in a plane (an “FA38″) and protected the car driving the president, firing rockets and machine guns at enemies.

Hit this for information on the rest of E3’s Monday conferences.