Well Microsoft’s Xbox Presentation has ended less than an hour ago and, like every year, it’s given us a good look at the coming months on the Xbox 360. There were a range of new games showcased, along with new features for Xbox Live and mobile devices so check after the jump and we’ll take you through the highlights of this year’s presentation all easily assembled for your perusal.
First up is what will undoubtably be the biggest game of the year, Halo 4. Introduced with a lengthy gameplay demo that showed off not only the new locale Master Chief finds himself on, but the new UNSC ship Infinity and some of the new weapons and enemies on offer. The game looked like everything we’ve come to expect from the Halo franchise though we personally couldn’t help but feel there was a certain Metroid Prime flavour to the whole thing. Luckily you don’t need to just rely on me telling you what the gameplay was like and can instead check out the video below
Next up was Splinter Cell: Blacklist, continuing Sam Fisher’s one man stealth war on terror. It looks. or in fact sounds, like long time Sam Fisher voice artist Michael Ironside has been replaced by the ubiquitous Nolan North. The new game seems to build on elements of the last title Conviction with target marking and execution playing a big part in the gameplay being demoed along with free-running and climbing segments. The free running seems an odd choice at it will mean comparisons with Ubisoft’s other stealth blockbuster series Assassin’s Creed. Another element that was stressed was the use of Kinect Voice to distract or lure enemies by speaking to your 360 which proved to be somewhat of a theme with this year’s presentation.
EA Sports announced that FIFA 13 and Madden 13 would rely heavily on Kinect Voice integration for calling plays, management and formations in both titles. Kinect was also featured in both the upcoming Fable: The Journey which used the motion controls for spell casting and combat and Wreckateer which could best be described as Angry Birds Kinect with catapults and castles.
We were then treated to a playthrough of next year’s Tomb Raider reboot which showed off Lara’s new combat skills. This is a much more visceral experience than previous outings, with Lara wielding a bow and arrow at first picking off enemies before getting a hold of a shotgun, sliding down ziplines and parachuting off cliffs. The game looks fantastic and while there was a worrying moment showing the return of the dreaded quick time event. That gameplay misstep aside, Lara’s newest outing looks like it will be one of the best things out on the 360 next year.
Now that we’ve covered the gaming highlights, we should talk about the big innovation for Xbox Live. Microsoft unveiled SmartGlass, a new service that works on tablets and smartphones using Android, iOS and Windows. SmartGlass displays relevant data for the game you’re playing, lets you continue watching movies from where you left off on your console and will even let you control the new Internet Explorer web browser coming to the dashboard later this year. It definitely seems like Microsoft trying to answer the second screen of the Wii U controller.
So those were the highlights of this year’s Xbox E3 briefing. There were of course other things announced: Call of Duty Black Ops II, which looked like frankly more of the same, Trey Parker and Matt Stone showing off their new South Park: The Stick of Truth title and a live performance by Usher doubling as a gameplay demo for Dance Central 3. Kinect and sports dominated the briefing this year which left some of us feeling a little left out but there was still plenty on offer for the more traditional gamers among us.