Microsoft Conference Liveblog

Every man and his dog is liveblogging E3. I’m a man with two dogs, so naturally I’m joining in the ruckus. Words and opinions broadcast [vaguely] in sync with Microsoft’s conference where we’re expecting word on Halo 4, Gears 4, Fable 4 and Forza 5 as well as window-washing, celebrity cameos and footage of Tomb Raider among others. 

19:30 – Let’s take stock, then. Sequels to wonted franchises. Internet Explorer on Xbox. Some TV nonsense and a bit where Usher danced on stage for four minutes. Fucking hell. Next up EA, who could perform a silent, impressionistic dance rendition of Schindler’s List and it’d go down easier than that.

19:15 – One assumes we are to be buoyed by news of timed DLC. I mean, why wouldn’t we be excited that we can play content before other people can play content. As European gamers, we know just how unbelievably brilliant it is to not be able to play games before others!

19:10 – Whir.

19:07 – The beast takes its final breath and, to the relieved cries of thousands, cops it. Microsoft have done the impossible and rocked up with a more stilted, fatigued, completely out of touch show than last year. And there wasn’t even any window-washing. Highlights? Um.

19:04 – Just to slice through the nonsense on screen, Eurogamer have confirmed that Counter Strike: Global Offensive launches August 21. That’s exciting, right? RIGHT?

18:56 – Straight into the single player. Takes place partly in LA, although I’m sure globetrotting is on the agenda. Somebody has been shot. He is bleeding from the face. Shouty people are shouting. The president is a woman. Oh here we go… EXPLOSION! WHOOSH! CRASH! KABOOM! PEW! PEW! PEW! SMASH! VROOM! CRASH! And we’re in. Lots of things still going boom. The wall of noise is deafening and yet, somehow, so consummate that it manages to drown itself out.

Plenty going on in the environment. And we immediately get into some auto-missile turret thingy. Seriously? A turret section? Over in a couple of seconds. SHOUTY MEN ARE SHOUTING SOME! A plane crashes. BOOM! CRASH! WHIR! It’s got Resistance’s shoot through walls gun. Shouty men are shouting things what to do. This doesn’t seem like the most exciting section they could have chosen. The player has been riveted to the same spot sniping people through walls for a few minutes now. Oh okay, they’re skipping ahead a bit… The pew-proper has begun and it looks all things Call of Duty. A tree rolls down an escalator. Take that Battlefield 3! SHOUT. SHOOT. RUN. BLOW SOMEONE’S FACE OFF. SHOUT. DO THIS. DRAMA. EXPLOSIONS. A building fall over. Contrived is certainly the word here. Even the most blinkered fan must be rolling eyes at this point.

18:54 – Here we go then.

18:53 – We’re going to lead out with Black Ops 2. 

18:52 – People clap out of sympathy for Usher. Don Mattrick is back. “At Xbox, we’re ushering in a new golden age of entertainment.” He pauses, as if clocking the terrible joke.

18:51 – On and on it goes. Nice throwback to a year that isn’t 2012.

18:50 – Okay guys, think we’ve seen enough dancing now.

18:47 – Harmonix roll up. Dancing ensues. It’s live, Usher is grooving on stage. He’s advertising Dance Central 3. And here I was thinking they’d be hawking Blitz.

18:45 – Matt Parker and Trey Stone take to the stage. Immediately taking the piss out of Smart Glass. Brilliant. I’m alive! They wanted the South Park game to feel like an episode, apparently, and it does. It’s in good hands. They leave. Sadface. 

18:43 – Cartman’s voice echoes around the room. “We have been betrayed. The peace we once knew, shattered like glass. First came the goblins, then the underpants gnomes, hippies, crab people.” Teehee. “Jews can’t be saviours, remember.” Guffaw. “We ned the new kid.”  Starring (runs through tonnes of custommisable options) YOU.” South Park: The Stick of Truth. It’s Obsidians RPG.

18:40 – Alex Ruiz from the Xbox Live team breaks up the sausage festival. “Imagine a game that combines giant cannons” sounds good. “tons of explosives”, cool. “Massive castles infested with goblins.” Sure. “And the power of Kinect.” Oh. It’s Wreckateer. aka Angry Goblins: £7.50 edition.

18:35 – Well that’s your new IP ladies and gentleman. Rammed into a four minute slot and bunged under the carpet quicker than you say “hooray!” Fellas from Capcom are up demoing Resident Evil 6. Leon has seen better days. So has Raccoon City. Leon just Max Payne dived onto his back and rolled around on the floor a bit while pew-pewing the zombies. Overdramatic much. Visually impressive. Dialogue suitably shit. QTEs on zombies. Leon putting the cover system to good use to peer tentatively around corners. Loads of zombies on screen at once but Leon’s borrowed some of Left 4 Dead’s pipe bombs and makes light work of the rabble. Just twatted a zombie with a hammer. The scale of the city is immense but this is even more action-orientated than Resi 5. Right, so a jet exploded and then THE WHOLE WORLD WAS EXPLODING. Oh Capcom. Moving along at electric pace. Bit o QTE helicopter piloting. It crashes. End.

18:34 – Next! A pokeball is being chased through Tron Land by some cubes. Matter. Made for Kinect. 2013. Developed by Gore Verbinski apparently. As if the Pirates teet has dried.

18:33 – Twisted Pixel are shocasing something called Lococycle… I dont know. Where do they get these names from? They really didn’t show us anything there.

18:28 – Phil Spencer is back. “We’re also investing in new stories.” Could it be? Actual, tangible, new intellectual propety? Signal Studios are up – they made Toy Soldiers franchise remember. Lots of slicey-slicey footage of people lumbering about with big swords and bigger axes making each other bleed. More gore geyser here than in a Tarantino movie. Some howling demons. Giants smashing buildings and pulling chaps apart. Very violent. Kind of looks like Bloodforge. But not shit. Ascend: New Gods. Coming 2013. 

18:24 – Games. Actual video games!!! It’s Crystal Dynamics in the spotlight with gameplay footage of their rebooted Tomb Raider title. It looks a touch on the pretty side. Lara’s killing chaps quietly with a bow and arrow. Hey Fisher, this is how it’s done you old nonce. Oops, maybe not. She reveals herself and a dude knocks over table for cover. Lara bounds about in cover of her own as the world around her literally breaks apart. No QTEs yet. Have I mentioned how goddamn beautiful it looks? Ah lame, big blue QTE on screen. Now she’s setting the world on fire to break cover. Handy. These enemies have definitely been training at the Bond School of Goons. Can’t hit Lara for shit. Oh, she’s gone and stabbed one of them in the throat. Charming. Lara’s parachuting down into the void, not going to well as she pings off trees. Fall. Ouch. Bit of weird platforming-dodging down a river. End.

First piece of downloadable content will be available exclusively on Xbox 360. Great.

18:23 – Control the internet with your tablet or phone. You’re using your iPad to control Internet Explorer on your TV. Don’t bully the middle man.

18:20 – Internet Explore announced for Xbox. Oh dear. Think even Microsoft is in on the joke now.

18:15 – He’s using Kinect to watch Game of Thrones. His phone and tablet are keeping up with what’s going on on the TV, acting as info-companions. Not sure what the point of that is… how the Mary is flipping between a phone, an iPad and a TV screen more immersive than ramming your head into a TV screen and shutting up for an hour?

18:14 – Marc Whitten, head of Xbox Live, is on stage badmouthing smart devices. He’s announced Xbox Smart Glass. “With Xbox Smart Glass movies are more immersive, music is more interactive, games are more thrilling.” Are they? He’s using Smart Glass to transfer the Sherlock Holmes film from his iPad to his TV. Pretty sure he meant “recycling bin” there, but heigh ho. 

18: 13 – I’M SORRY FOR RIDICULING YOU SAM FISHER. COME BACK. COME BACK WITH YOUR INNANE SHOUTY STEALTH AND AK-47 NOW.

18:11 – “Nike + Kinect training in your home”. Man, I’d take some Splinter Cell right about now.

18:08 – Someone from Nike called Stefan Olander is on stage.  Cool history of Nike bro, but you’re talking to a room full of games journalists. “If you have a body, you are an athlete”. That’ll make them feel better. Also, that kind of reminds of the quote from the developer (respected, can’t remember his name) that suggested by killing nazis, you were a nazi! Incredible.

18:07 – Onto music. Microsoft are making “the music service we have always dreamed of making.” iTunes? Spotify? “Xbox Music”. It like… totally lets you listen to music.

18:06 – Montage of people watching TV using the Xbox. It’s kind of like watching the TV with a Virgin Media box BUT ON XBOX. Thrilling.

18:03 – NBA coming to Xbox. Do you love hockey? (three people clap, one woo). NFL coming to Xbox. 24/7 live programming through ESPN.

18:02 – 35 new entertainment partnerships including Nickelodeon (delayed claps), Paramount movies (quiet claps) and Machinima (moderate claps). 

18:01 – Well we got through thirty minutes of sequels but here we are inevitably blathering about how super-awesome Kinect and Bing are. The fella on stage is using Bing to rifle through film genres – that’s the new feature. Now he’s talking in Mexican. Did anyone ask for genre-searching? 

18:00 – Cars are racing. Cars are crashing. Cars go vroom. Dubstep goes wubwubwub. October 23. 2012. No mention of how it differs to Forza proper.

17:59 – Bloody hell. They’re rattling through these games, presumably so we get to all the Kinect gubbins as if that hasn’t marred enough games already. Forza: Horizon up now. Looks like Forza. OH DUBSTEP. Three months late chaps.

17:58 – Straight into Gears of War: Judgement. It’s dark. Hey look, some Gears characters. The focus, as was the case with that Game Informer cover, is on Baird. He’s the protagonist. Out 2013. Um…

17:56 – Phil Spencer takes to the stage. Is anyone going to apologise for that Fable trailer? “At the very heart of Xbox is great games.” Why the hell are you telling me that Phil? “Biggest year for games on Xbox.”

17:55 – Trailer for Fable up now, it’s the Kinect one. “A new darkness threatens Albion”, Peter Molyneux’s ghost? That literally shows nothing.

17:54 – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzhuthuthutzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Who said Pizza Hut? “This brings back some great memories.” Does it?

17:53 – He’s acting like they haven’t rehearsed this four-thousand times now. “Can I call out an individual player?”

17:52 – Straight on to Madden. Joe Montana up now. What’s he, like the rugby version of Messi? Bit awkward already.

17:51 – EA Sports o’ clock. The dude is making managerial decisions in FIFA 13 using Kinect voice control. Now he’s hurling swear words at the ref, the commentary is reacting to him. BREAKING NEWS: OUT THIS YEAR!

17:47 – Fisher’s found himself clasping an AK in the eye of a firefight and he’s just er… called in an airstrike? With Kinect. He’s now tagging people using his trusty optic cable under a door. Cue breach, slow mo entry, slow mo kills in the order of tagging. It’s all bravado and bluster. Fin.

Lot of clapping. Not sure why. 

17:45 – Takes place on the Iran/Iraq border. Sam has to capture and interrogate terrorist leader Mr. Blah-Blah in a desperate struggle to prevent the GOOD OLD WESTERN WORLD from being blown up. Urgh. Can he do it? We see some slow motion run-and-gun gameplay, very smooth but obviously very assisted. It is an action movie, which is the natural progression following Conviction. The dude playing just shouted “hey you” using Kinect and a guard came enquiring. Stealth epitomised.

17: 44 – This looks like Splinter Cell. It’s got Conviction’s crappy pause time tag-to-kill mechanic. Sam Fisher’s going medieval on some terrorist’s ass.

17:43 – That’s enough Halo apparently. Next!  

17:42 –Here comes Don Mattrick. He’s talking about great the Xbox is. ‘Xbox entertainment coming to phones, PC, and tablets this holiday.’

17:37 – Chief’s now shooting everything that moves, naturally. New enemies turn up: artificial intelligence that’s most likely those oft-mentioned Forerunners. Chief’s got himself a souvenir Forerunner gun. It makes things explode. No comedy-lines spewed from the Grunts yet. Teleporting enemies though. Weak.

“An ancient evil awakes.”

17:33 – And we’re off! With a mental live action film. A flipping massive spaceship is crashing straight into poor old Planet Earth. That’s going to hurt. Segues quite comfortably into CGI as Master Chief watches on nonchalantly. I mean, what else is he doing to do? Now old Chiefy’s stomping through the jungle. My, my it looks pretty. Lots of banshees, long draw distances. Chief’s clutching his trusty battle rifle but it’s had an upgrade. Very nice lighting effects as MC trudges through the morass. 

17:29 – “It’s hard to go wrong with Tony Hawk” – glossing over Ride, huh?

17:27 – Deadlight could be this year’s Limbo/Bastion.

17:25 – Microsoft announces the line up to the 2012 leg of Summer of Arcade: Hybrid, Deadlight, Wreckateer, Tony Hawk HD and Dust: An Elysian Tail

17:22 – Another montage. Xbox E3 highlights. There’s a shot of Bill Gates wearing a leather jacket. Lots of Halo. More Halo. Some more Halo. Oh look, Halo!

17:20 – They’re talking about Halo, Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed, Forza Horizon, Borderlands 2, Black Ops 2 (single player and co-op, not multiplayer). Expect to see those, then?

17:18 – Microsoft are broadcasting a “Pre-Media” show with Robert Bowling, Larry Hyrb and a lovely lady I didn’t catch the name of. Oops. It’s “the eve of infinite possibilites” according to Bowling. CONFIRMED CELEBRITIES ON STAGE AND A MUSICAL RENDITION OF SOMETHING FROM SOMEONE!

17:14 – While the prospect of another Halo and another Gears of War and another Fable and another Forza has me blue. I am excited to see what Crystal Dynamics have been up to over the past 12 months. While most seem content finger-pointing at Uncharted, I see more I Am Alive than Naughty Dog’s opus. 

17:11 – Microsoft has just 20 minutes to leak its entire roster of “surprises” onto the internet. Leaving it late this year chaps.

17:05 – Just flicked the Xbox on. Microsoft are airing a montage of last year’s “highlights”: Bing, Youtube, UFC streaming, Disneyland Adventures, Star Wars Kinect, Sesame Street, Dance Central 2, Fable, Ghost Recon, Halo. 

17:00 – Half an hour to go. Heard we might be leading with Tomb Raider. A WOMAN LEADING THIS BRO-FEST? Doesn’t seem likely, surely it’s Halo 4 up first?

16:52 – Let’s not whack our sticks around the bushes like we’re re-enacting scenes from Lord of the Flies here. Microsoft’s conference last year left plenty to be desired. Halo, Gears, Fable, Forza. It’s become a bad joke; a stinging testimony to the health of the company’s catalogue of IP. Are we going to see some new IP this year? Surely, with all eyes on the Wii U, Microsoft has something up its sleeve. 

16:45 – Ubisoft have embraced the spirit of E3 by volleying out some images of Splinter Cell: Black List before they’ve even had chance to announce it proper. Here’s one. Good grief! Reckon it’s safe to say they’re following in the footsteps of pew-bang-arghhhhhhhhh-fest Splinter Cell: Conviction.

16:38 – And lest we allow ourselves to be swept up in a tide of sequels and predictable rehashes, today isn’t just about the leviathans. Microsoft is also set to announce the line up for its annual Summer of Arcade soiree. Last year saw Bastion, From Dust, Toy Soldiers: Cold War, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet and Fruit Ninja Kinect make the cut. This year Tony Hawk’s: Pro Skater HD and Kinect title Wreckateer are heavily rumoured to be in attendance. 

16:35 – Oh and Nintendo head honcho Satoru Iwata took to a, er, room in Nintendo HQ to deliver a rather dreary PrE3 conference about the Nintendo Wii U. It’s HD, comes with an Xbox controller and, finally, embraces that up-and-coming technology known as The Internet Highway. To be fair, it looks like they’ve got some nifty ideas. I quite like the Miiverse. Kind of like Playstation Home but not, well, shit. If we’re being polite.

16:33 – Nary a day has gone past this last week without an eager-beaver letting slip particulars regarding their upcoming game. We were drip-fed details of the People Can Fly developed Gears of War: Judgement and presented with a new Tomb Raider trailer while EA verified the existence of Dead Space 3 and a Criterion developed Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Lucasarts revealed the unfortunately titled Star Wars 1313 and Arkane Studios bestowed upon the world a new Dishonored trailer, starring Mr. Slashy Slashy and his throat-cutter. I wrote about all that and more here

16:30 – Hello! Welcome. Haven’t you heard, it’s E3 2012! Hooray! Or not. If you are in attendance, you have my sympathy. God speed, intrepid warrior, as you wade through a land steeped in ignorance! Mmm tits, flashing lights and dubstep.

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