Monday, 4 June 2012

E3 2012: Microsoft conference round-up

Microsoft kicked off E3 2012 in earlier with a disjointed and slightly dull conference, that focussed strongly on the multimedia future of Kinect and the Xbox 360, but left a little to be desired when it came to games coverage. The show started promisingly, with footage of the upcoming Halo 4 showing off some of the gameplay from the single player campaign. There was also a look at the new direction for the Forza series, with the latest title Horizon bearing a resemblance to more action-oriented racers like Need for Speed and Burnout.

Much of the conference was taken up by announcements for the Xbox's multimedia offerings, with an enhanced entertainment range including more sports and music highlighted. Kinect integration was on the agenda as well, with Microsoft adding new features to its Bing voice control search, and a long-awaited web browser boasting voice interaction. Perhaps the most interesting announcement was of a new service called SmartGlass, that connects your Xbox with smartphones, tablets, and other similar devices. It allows you to share content between the hardware, and utilise it in interesting ways. For instance, you can watch a film from your ipad, pause it, then continue from the same point on the Xbox. More in-depth and creative uses were confirmed, with an interactive map related to Game of Thrones shown. 

Those hoping for a focus on games were left disappointed

Fitness was also on the agenda, with Nike fitness software for Kinect given prominence. Bearing more than a little resemblance to Nintendo's Wii Fit, Nike + Kinect Training promises professional standard training programmes for you to enjoy in your living room. Dance Central 3 was also demoed, with an exuberant Usher popping up on stage to urge the assembled journalists to “Get up out of their seats”, before popping out some dance moves. 

For those in the audience starting to wonder whether Microsoft had forgotten to bring any games, demoes of the latest Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, and Splinter Cell titles were shown. South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker were rolled out to talk about the upcoming RPG based on the show, before they were hurried off stage after mocking Microsoft's SmartGlass reveal from earlier. It was a welcome moment of humour in what was an otherwise underwhelming show. It finished with a bang, as an extended demo for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 was shown, but it was too little too late for an audience that seemed to have long since lost interest. 

Kinect integration seems to be key to Microsoft's future plans

One feels that Nintendo stole some of the thunder with their pre-E3 video announcement last night, which was packed with new information about the Wii U. It was an interesting bit of strategy to drum up interest before the conference proper, and Microsoft were going to have their work cut out trying to top it. But as intriguing as a lot of the stuff shown here was, it's undeniable that a greater focus on games rather than multimedia tech might have captured the audience's interest a bit better. With people already claiming that Microsoft has “lost” E3, it'll be interesting to see what Sony come up with during their own conference later tonight.

Via: @VoidBurger

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