What's the skinny?
--The Halo 4 trailer showed off new non-Covenant enemies and settings.
--Splinter Cell: Blacklist is Ubisoft Toronto's new game. It features some Kinect integration, and should ship in spring 2013.
--Fable: The Journey launches this holiday season.
--Gears of War: Judgment comes out next year.
--Forza Horizon is set for an October 23 launch.
--Xbox SmartGlass is an app for PCs, tablets and mobile phones that will let users control their Xboxes remotely, juggle video back and forth, and offer two-screen features to games and movies.
--Xbox 360 is getting a web browser! Internet Explorer, as if there was any doubt.
--Tomb Raider DLC will arrive first on Xbox 360. The same goes for Resident Evil 6 and Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
--South Park: The Stick of Truth comes out March 5, 2013.
The full blow-by-blow:
LOS ANGELES--Nintendo jumped the gun with a Sunday afternoon pre-E3 reveal of the redesigned Wii U GamePad and the system's online social features, but Microsoft today is kicking off the gauntlet of full-fledged media briefings with a 9:30 a.m. PST presentation from The Galen Center in Los Angeles.
While Microsoft said in March that there would be no talk of new hardware at E3, the Xbox 360 maker has no shortage of projects to fill up its allotted time. The list of potential segments for the show includes new looks at Halo 4, Forza Horizon, Fable: The Journey, another round of Kinect games, and a proper unveiling of Gears of War: Judgment. Microsoft also likes to spread the love by featuring big titles from third-party developers; last year's show saw Microsoft devote segments at its E3 conference to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Tomb Raider, Mass Effect 3, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, and Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster.
To watch the Microsoft briefing as it happens, check out GameSpot's live video stream of the event.
[9:07] We're about 20 minutes away from the start of Microsoft's E3 2012 media briefing here in Los Angeles.
[9:22] The scheduled start of the conference is 10 minutes away, and the Galen Center is filling out now.
[9:23] Microsoft has managed to pack the lower bowl of the arena pretty tightly, and the cheap seats in the upper bowl aren't exactly devoid of people, either.
[9:24] Gotye comes over the arena loudspeaker, because nothing gets people ready for video game hype like a scathing breakup song.
[9:24] But you didn't have to reeed riiiing!
[9:25] PA announcement to take seats because the briefing will begin in five minutes. This thing could last 90 minutes, so if you need a bathroom break, now might be the time.
[9:26] As always, GameSpot is your go-to source for advice on when to relieve yourself.
[9:27] No flash photography during the briefing. Apparently it startles the animals.
[9:28] Another reminder to take seats because the briefing is about to begin.
[9:30] As is usual for Microsoft events, the stage and crowd are bathed in green light. There are also a few Xbox 360 systems set up at the back of the stage with spare controllers and Kinects.
[9:30] The lights dim, and we're welcomed to the show.
[9:30] We're starting off with a video, and it's Halo 4.
[9:31] It's been four years since the end of the war. It's a live-action trailer with a voice-over of a commander talking about the culmination of human achievement.
[9:32] The UNSC starship, one meant not to wage war but to discover new worlds, seems to be going down in some sort of catastrophic tragedy.
[9:33] As it makes planetfall, Master Chief looks up from the ground.
[9:33] A spherical ship uncloaks and heads toward the expected crash site. Cortana and Master Chief decide to head that way.
[9:34] The screen segues to gameplay, and it's Master Chief going through a jungle area.
[9:34] He has the battle rifle out, and things are quiet to start. Too quiet…
[9:34] He spots some Covenant and quickly dispatches them.
[9:35] One of them disappears after being killed. Next up are a handful of doglike beasts. Cortana calls them defense AIs, definitely not Covenant.
[9:35] He encounters a bigger non-Covenant with a glowing skull face that spawns a flying helper unit.
[9:36] He kills him and takes the weapon. Cortana says something about it being a Forerunner.
[9:37] Another new enemy type shows up; it winks in and out of existence quickly as it charges the player. Of course, Master Chief kills it before it can do too much.
[9:37] The Chief switches to an alternate view that lets him see heat signatures, then looks up to realize he's surrounded.
[9:37] Another enemy drops down and takes a swing, then it cuts to a few quick video clips.
[9:37] "An Ancient Evil Awakens."
[9:38] Microsoft president of interactive entertainment Don Mattrick comes out to welcome the audience.
[9:38] It's his 17th E3.
[9:39] Xbox 360 is the number-one-selling console worldwide, he says, and thanks everyone who has supported the company.
[9:39] Xbox 360 brings all of your entertainment--games, sports, movies, TV, and social--all integrated in one place with the magic of the Kinect.
[9:39] He name-drops Halo 4 and says they're welcoming new partners to the Xbox 360. This holiday, they're taking Xbox beyond the console to your phones, PCs, and tablets.
[9:40] He walks off and it looks like footage of gameplay is next.
[9:41] A man carries a wounded comrade into a tent where some associates try to save him.
[9:41] Once the men are preoccupied with trying to save their associates, the man quickly dispatches them.
[9:41] Ubisoft's logo comes up. It's Splinter Cell: Blacklist, from Ubisoft Toronto.
[9:42] Now they switch to gameplay, and Sam Fisher is sneaking into an enemy camp at the Iran-Iraq border.
[9:43] Terrorists are threatening the US with Blacklist attacks unless they withdraw all their troops. Fisher takes out a handful of adversaries. "That's killing in motion," says the Ubisoft rep.
[9:43] The demo showcases a bit of ledge climbing as well.
[9:43] Now it's time for a classic Splinter Cell move, "enhanced by Kinect."
[9:44] The demo player says "Hey, you!" in order to draw the attention of a guard to the railing Fisher is hanging from.
[9:44] When he comes over, Fisher grabs the guard and drops him to the ground.
[9:45] More Splinter Cell action, more people being executed, and some slow-mo gunplay follow.
[9:45] The demo player calls out for backup with the help of the Kinect, and gets it.
[9:46] That ends messily, and the demo is over as well.
[9:46] Fisher prepares to breach a door, but first uses a camera slid under the door to see what the situation is.
[9:46] He blows the door open, kills a few guys in slow motion, then grabs a guy to interrogate.
[9:46] That ends messily, and the demo is over as well.
[9:46] The crowd applauds.
[9:47] Blacklist will be the most ambitious Splinter Cell yet, shipping in spring 2013. It will have single-player, co-op, and spies versus mercs.
[9:47] Next up is EA Sports head Andrew Wilson. This year, Madden and FIFA "will become better with Kinect."
[9:48] FIFA 13 will let players control the events on the pitch with voice commands, substituting players with voice.
[9:48] You can also change formation and tactics on the fly.
[9:48] Or call for a pass or shot with voice.
[9:49] When players yell out about a bad call or play, the play-by-play announcers will also respond appropriately.
[9:49] Wilson introduces Joe Montana to talk about Madden 13.
[9:51] Joe says he hopes it will put him back on the field again and make him feel like he's back at home.
[9:51] Montana changes the formation, hikes the ball, and calls for a hurry-up, but there seems to be a delay between him giving these commands and the game reacting.
[9:51] "This is actually pretty sweet," says Montana.
[9:51] He calls for a rush by Frank Gore, who promptly plows his way into the endzone.
[9:51] Montana says it brings back great memories, and says he might have an advantage being an actual quarterback.
[9:52] That's it for Montana, and we're going to a Fable: The Journey video.
[9:52] Another bit of live-action video in there, intercut with some Kinect-powered gameplay.
[9:53] Lots of dramatic music, spell effects, and gameplay that sort of looks like a light gun game.
[9:53] Holiday 2012 is when to watch for that one.
[9:53] Head of Microsoft Studios Phil Spencer comes out next.
[9:53] He says great games are at the heart of the Xbox.
[9:54] "Only the best games are on Xbox."
[9:54] Spencer says he works with some of the best development talent in the world every day.
[9:55] Today, he's providing a new glimpse at an action racer combining the authenticity of Forza Motorsport with the intensity of the open road.
[9:55] But first… Gears of War!
[9:55] It's a video clip showing some COGs being led away in glowing cuffs.
[9:55] Baird smirks, the Locust swarm, and the Gears of War: Judgment logo pops up along with a 2013 release window.
[9:56] Then we go right into Forza Horizon.
[9:56] It's a bunch of really shiny cars racing on highways through picturesque environments.
[9:56] There's night driving, other traffic to worry about, and even a few more organized street races.
[9:57] There's also a little dubstep.
[9:57] October 23, 2012, is the release date.
[9:57] Now its Yusuf Medhi, the head of marketing and strategy.
[9:58] Medhi says Microsoft loves all kinds of entertainment, not just games. He talks about things like Bing voice search making it easier to find things on Xbox Live.
[9:58] This fall, users will be able to search by genre.
[9:58] "Bing Action"
[9:58] "Xbox Killer Elite"
[9:58] The video on screen reacts as you'd expect.
[9:59] This year, Bing voice search is being expanded to 12 more countries, and they're expanding language support.
[10:00] He demonstrates Xbox voice search in Spanish, which gets a nice round of applause.
[10:00] Today they're highlighting four more providers coming to Xbox: Nickelodeon, Paramount Movies, Machinima, and Univision.
[10:01] Time to talk about sports now. Microsoft wants to be your home for every match, every big game, and every championship.
[10:01] He talks about the UFC integration and MLB.TV.
[10:01] Today he's announcing that the portfolio of sports will grow. The NBA is coming to Xbox.
[10:02] NBA GameTime League Pass will be coming, as will NHL GameCenter.
[10:03] Now he's talking about ESPN on the Xbox, saying it will have 24-7 live programming events through WatchESPN on Xbox 360.
[10:03] SportsNation, SportsCenter, The Mike and Mike Show, all live, all in HD, all on the Xbox 360.
[10:03] He leaves the stage as a video shows off the new sports apps.
[10:04] He leaves the stage as a video shows off the new sports apps.
[10:05] Medhi is back to talk about Xbox Music, a way to share and discover music that will be released on tablets, phones, and Xbox 360.
[10:05] PCs, also.
[10:05] He shows another video that highlights some social features and shows a bit of the interface.
[10:06] Medhi is wrapping up his segment with one last announcement.
[10:06] He talks about Kinect and welcomes one of the world's greatest brands to Xbox 360. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the future of fitness."
[10:07] Stefan Olander from Nike comes out to unveil something.
[10:08] He talks about the company's history and its dedication to serving athletes and helping them reach their potential.
[10:09] He talks about Nike Plus and Nike Fuel, a way for athletes to compare and compete against one another regardless of what activities they enjoy.
[10:09] Nike Plus Kinect Training is coming to your home.
[10:09] It will give users access to the same assessments and feedback that Nike gives pro athletes like LeBron James.
[10:10] The Kinect Trainer is there to give feedback, watch form, remind players on their phones when they're due for a workout, and more.
[10:11] Nike Plus Xbox Live will also give you more people to work out with.
[10:11] He throws to a video of Nike Plus Kinect Training, which touts its customization features and Nike's fitness expertise.
[10:11] The game comes out this holiday season.
[10:11] Marc Whitten is out next. He's the head of Xbox Live.
[10:12] He asks if you can imagine life without your smartphone or tablet.
[10:12] But he says that your devices aren't so smart because they don't work together.
[10:12] But today that's going to change. He introduces Xbox SmartGlass.
[10:13] With Xbox SmartGlass, movies are more immersive, TV more engaging, games more thrilling.
[10:14] He talks about watching the Sherlock Holmes movie on his tablet while flying to LA.
[10:14] And then sending it from his tablet to his TV with a single touch and picking up where it left off.
[10:14] Now his tablet has turned into a data repository for the movie with information about the film, cast, and characters.
[10:14] He cues up Game of Thrones using voice commands on the TV. But his tablet is showing a map following the sequence of the show and telling the player where the events are happening.
[10:15] SmartGlass will let creators make multiscreen entertainment. He cuts to a video of concept shots of what game developers could do with it.
[10:16] In Madden, players could call their own plays on a tablet (like in NFL 2K with a VMU), but they could also draw new routes for receivers just before the snap.
[10:17] That's it, just those two examples.
[10:17] He also says SmartGlass will let players use their tech toys as the world's best remote control.
[10:18] Whitten than talks about Web browsers, which have been one of the most requested features for the Xbox 360.
[10:18] IE is coming to Xbox this year.
[10:19] He scrolls through his favorites using voice commands, then goes to the Project Prometheus website for the upcoming movie.
[10:19] He calls up a video clip from the movie. Sorry for anyone hoping for a media blackout on this movie.
[10:20] The clip is mercifully over quickly, and Whitten talks about Aston Martin's Web page on TV.
[10:20] With SmartGlass, players can control the page on the TV with their phone or tablet, pinching, zooming, and scrolling through content.
[10:20] It launches worldwide this fall.
[10:21] SmartGlass works with the phones and TVs and tablets you already own.
[10:21] Presumably, it works with the Xbox 360 you already own as well.
[10:21] Xbox entertainment is also being brought to Windows 8.
[10:22] Whitten thanks the audience and leaves the stage.
[10:22] Two Eidos developers are out to talk about Tomb Raider.
[10:23] It's a live demo of a dramatic sequence from later in the game.
[10:23] Lara takes out a few enemies with a bow and arrow, one of them catching it right in the head as he was talking with a fellow…smuggler? It's not clear why these people are bad and deserve to die.
[10:24] With the baddies dispatched, Lara does her climbing thing to get around an encampment.
[10:25] She fires a flaming arrow into a leaking gas tank to kill a few more probably bad guys.
[10:25] More people on fire, a few shotgun deaths, stabbing a dude in the throat with an arrow…
[10:25] And then she gets stuck in some rapids, takes a drop down a waterfall, grabs onto some debris, and generally gets knocked around by nature a lot.
[10:26] It ends with her falling through a ruined plane's cockpit and parachuting to safety.
[10:26] Look, I'm sorry, there's a lot happening in this clip, and it's tough to keep up.
[10:27] Also, by "safety," I meant she falls through a tree canopy and probably breaks a few ribs if she's lucky.
[10:27] She looks up to see a temple as the logo comes up. The Eidos rep mentions that the first DLC will arrive first on Xbox 360.
[10:28] Spencer is back out to talk about investing in new stories from some of the industry's most creative developers.
[10:28] Twisted Pixel and Gore Verbinski are referenced. The next three titles are world premiere exclusives.
[10:28] The first one is from Signal Studios, developer of Toy Soldiers.
[10:28] It's Ascend: New Gods.
[10:30] A warrior with a bow and arrow climbs up on the shoulders of a hulking giant, who then goes on to slaughter other giants.
[10:30] But there's something bigger and scarier, and we get a glimpse of a boss battle that tries to evoke a little Shadow of the Colossus in the way the character scales the enemy first before the killing blow.
[10:31] Next is a shot of a motorcycle in shadows, LocoCycle from Twisted Pixel games. A voice-over talks about it as a woman proficient in combat, and it's coming in 2013
[10:32] Next up is the Verbinski project, which involves a sphere traveling through an ever-shifting landscape. It's called Matter. It's made for the Kinect and comes out in 2013.
[10:32] Capcom's Resident Evil 6 producer and director are out now to show the latest on the game.
[10:32] It's a video clip with Leon waking up and grabbing a gun in a ruined street with zombies crawling around.
[10:33] He has Elena with him, but quickly seems to ditch her as he ducks down an alley and goes through a building.
[10:34] He kills a few zombies, one with a shotgun blast to the stomach, and then blows up a horde of them with a grenade.
[10:34] There's a cover mechanic shown off, as well as a close-quarters combat bit that has him finishing off a zombie in style.
[10:35] Another zombie gets the drop on Leon and takes a chunk out of his shoulder. He dual wields pistols and kills a few more, than a plane falls out of a building almost on top of him.
[10:35] Look, this is what's happening. If you don't believe it, watch the streaming video of the show.
[10:36] Leon races from an explosion swallowing the street and makes a last-second jump to a helicopter. He's not safe yet, as the chopper nearly crashes.
[10:37] He manages to safely crash the helicopter into another building and out the other end.
[10:38] Then he and Elena fall from the cockpit and into the middle of a crowd of the undead. "Not my lucky day," he says. Again the DLC will be first on the Xbox 360.
[10:38] Alex Ruiz is out to talk about Wreckateer, a Kinect game with a fantasy setting.
[10:38] It will be an Xbox Live game.
[10:39] Looks like players control a slingshot ballista to destroy castle fortifications and towers.
[10:39] Beyond simply launching the cannon balls, Ruiz adds spin to them postlaunch, uses a power to split them into four different cannonballs, and even spreads her arms out to control one as it flies.
[10:39] Now it's the South Park game from THQ.
[10:40] A Cartman voice-over talks about the trouble facing the town of South Park, and the need for a savior to undo what has been done.
[10:41] Kyle says he'll do it, but Cartman says, "Jews can't be saviors," so instead they need to rely on "the new kid," which will be the player's created character.
[10:41] Clips show plenty of familiar characters and references to the show. The game is called The Stick of Truth, and comes out March 5, 2013.
[10:42] Trey Parker and Matt Stone are here, and they get the biggest applause yet.
[10:42] Parker mocks the super-connected approach Microsoft is taking, and then they start talking about the game.
[10:43] Stone said they wanted to make it feel like players were in an episode of the game, and talks about how much work it was for Obsidian to come up with the technology that would make the game look right but still have that same crappy feel as the visuals in the show.
[10:43] They quickly talk about the development, then say they need to leave to go work on it right now.
[10:43] Next up is a video for Harmonix's latest, Dance Central 3.
[10:44] Usher is working with the team to design choreography for two songs based on moves used on his tour.
[10:44] Usher comes out to the stage to demo it.
[10:45] Oooh, baby baby.
[10:46] The audience is suddenly awash in the glow of cell phone screens as people snap pictures.
[10:46] Usher and eight backup dancers are making use of the entire stage.
[10:46] There are no images of the game being shown or anything like that. This is just an Usher intermission.
[10:47] Oop, there it goes. The big finish shows some of the game choreographed along with the dancers' moves.
[10:48] A barrage of lights and smoke machines concludes the songs. The crowd applauds as Usher leaves.
[10:49] Don Mattrick is back out to thank the crowd for coming out. He says the Xbox 360 is ushering in a new era of entertainment.
[10:50] He's ending with Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
[10:50] Once again, all new DLC for the game will debut first on the Xbox 360.
[10:50] It's the super-grizzled voice-over guy saying nobody ever asks what happens when the enemy steals the keys to our robot army.
[10:52] It's a group of soldiers and suits in a convoy going through LA to the Bonnaventure Hotel.
[10:52] Terrorists have apparently struck the city during a G20 global conference with all the world's leaders present.
[10:52] A helicopter wrecks, the convoy is flipped, and the player crawls out of the wreckage to shoot things.
[10:53] The first thing the player does is enter a turret sequence to shoot down drone planes.
[10:54] One of those suits they're protecting is the president.
[10:54] A Blackbird comes by to provide support, and then the player gets on foot to continue down the ruined highway.
[10:54] "Get the president down there while I provide cover fire."
[10:56] There's no shortage of stuff blowing up and cars wrecking. The player takes a sniper position and shoots a dozen or so enemies through cover like signs, trucks, and cars.
[10:56] X-ray vision meets X-ray bullets?
[10:56] Once the path is clear, the highway the player was perched on collapses. "In the interest of time," we fast-forward a bit.
[10:56] It's now a mall shootout.
[10:57] While Black Ops seemed to emphasize up-close and personal kills, Black Ops II seems to be more about sniping, calling in support, and having tech toys do the killing for you. At least judging by this demo.
[10:57] A drone crashes through the mall plaza, more chaos and shooting ensues.
[10:58] This may be the LA Live complex, as the player emerges to see something that looks a lot like the Staples Center, which is adjacent to the LACC, where E3 is held.
[10:59] A skyscraper collapses, one of the AI yells at the player to get out of the way.
[10:59] The player of course stands perfectly still to watch every last detail of the destruction.
[11:00] Next the player jumps into one of the futuristic planes and takes off.
[11:00] The objective is to follow and protect a car. The player hovers behind a convoy, briefly spewing bullets at threats here and there.
[11:01] Another helicopter crashes into another building. Perhaps we have this year's theme of E3.
[11:01] Next up is a little dogfighting, then the demo ends.
[11:01] That's it for Black Ops II, and for the Microsoft show.