Monday was Press Day, with all of the major players holding their press conferences in large venues. As in years past, Microsoft held their event at the Galen Center, and kicked off this year’s Press Briefing by marking the return of Master Chief and his assistant, Cortana, in Halo 4, with an announced street date of November 6, 2012. The game demo had much of the same look and feel of previous entries in the series, but introduces some new non-biological enemies.
Don Mattrick, President of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, announced that in 2012, XBOX became the number one selling game console worldwide, stressing that this year will be XBOX’s best year yet.
Microsoft also announced new voice search features with Kinect (including multiple languages), and new content partners Machinima and Univision. ESPN will be expanding their coverage to 24/7, including content from all four of their major channels, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, and ESPN U.
Still trying to break into the music business, Microsoft announced XBOX Music, essentially a rebranding and relaunching of their Zune store, to be available on XBOX and Windows 8 PCs, tablets, and phones. More than 30 milliion music tracks are will be available.
Next up was the announcement of a partnership with Nike. Nike+ Kinect Training, promises full integration with all Nike+ devices.
Marc Whitten of XBOX LIVE introduced XBOX Smart Glass, a downloadable app for iPad, iPhone, Windows Phone, Android devices, and Windows 8 tablets, that allows you to use your smart phone or tablet as a second screen controller for XBOX as well as seamless switching between screens when watching videos. In conjunction with Smart Glass, it was announced that Internet Explorer would be coming to XBOX, and you can use Smart Glass on your phone as your mouse or pointer, or voice commands using Kinect.
Crystal Dynamics introduced a new gameplay demo from their upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, due in 2013. Downloadable content will be available first on XBOX.
Capcom then showed off a gameplay demo of Resident Evil 6, due out this October. Gameplay included attempting to fly an out of control helicopter through a Zombie-infested city in China.
Wreckateer is a cute little game coming on XBOX LIVE, where players hurl projectiles to destroy castles.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker took the stage to introduce South Park: The Stick of Truth, allowing the player to enter the world of South Park as the new, fifth kid. Sure to offend everyone, the game is due out in March 2013.
Not to be outdone, the press briefing ended with a gameplay demo of Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, featuring a terrorist attack on Los Angeles in the year 2025.
Madden NFL 13 features improved passing and animation systems, as well as a new Connected Careers option. Players will now be able to use existing pro players, create their own athletes, or select legendary coaches for their team. Madden NFL 13 hits store shelves for XBOX 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii, and PlayStation Vita on August 28. Also look for Madden NFL 13 Social on Facebook and smart phones this fall.
The Battlefield 3 Premium service was also launched this week. For a one-time fee of $49.99, owners have access to five add-on packs, including 20 new multiplayer maps and additional play modes and weapons. The service is available for XBOX 360, PS3, and PC.
Beginning in July, new members to the BioWare-developed Star Wars: The Old Republic will be able to play the first 15 character levels free of charge. Additional content for the game will be available within the next year.
October 23rd brings Medal of Honor: Warfighter, which expands the first-person military shooter.
FIFA Soccer 13 arrives this fall for XBOX 360, PS3, PlayStation Vita, PC, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo 3DS, PSP, iOS, Android, and even PS2 (where's the Sega Genesis version?).
Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White announced a multi-year, multi-product licensing agreement wit EA Sports.
Sony had an impressive line-up of exclusive titles to announce at its press conference, staerting off with the latest cinematic adventure from Quantic Dream, the developers behind Heavy Rain. Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page stars in Beyond: Two Souls as Jodie Holmes, and players have the opportunity to make decisions that affect her life over a 15-year period.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Metal Gear series, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, developed by Platinum Games, is unlike any other previous entry in the series, focusing on heavy-hitting combat.
One of the buzz words this year at E3 was Cloud-based Gaming. Gaikai is leading the foray into this next generation of gaming by partnering with game publishers and providing the network infrastructure to deliver most games to any PC, set-top box, smart phone, tablet, or smart TV, regardless of the computing power of the device. Gaikai’s major announcement at E3 was partnering with Samsung, who will be adding this service to their 7000 series (and higher) Smart TVs.
Thursday started with a sneak peak at LucasArts new Star Wars 1313 game, where players become bounty hunters within the depths of Coruscant. Named for Level 1313, a ruthless criminal underground deep below the surface of the planet of Coruscant, the game puts players in control of a deadly bounty hunter as he uses an arsenal of exotic weaponry to hunt down his marks and uncover the truth surrounding a criminal conspiracy. Star Wars 1313 emphasizes epic set pieces and fast-paced combat with a hero who uses human skills and gadgets, rather than supernatural Force powers, to make his way through this dangerous world. The technology behind the game combines the talents of LucasArts, ILM, Skywalker Sound, and Lucasfilm Animation.
Majesco offered up a demo of NBA Baller Beats for XBOX Kinect, in what they are touting as the first game to ever use a real basketball (an official Spalding NBA basketball comes bundled with the game). In very simple terms, the game takes Guitar Hero or Rockband and replaces musical instruments with a basketball. The music is your guide as the Kinect motion sensor captures every movement of both player and ball to create an entirely new basketball gaming experience. Master crossovers, pump fakes, behind-the-back, around-the-world and more as you bounce the ball to the beat of 30 licensed tracks that span across decades and genres including hip-hop, rock and old school classics.
See you next year!