"This is the culmination of human achievement," the narrator told us as a live action Halo 4 trailer opened Microsoft's 2012 pre-E3 press conference. Of course, this was a diegetic element of Halo's sci fi world, but the message was obvious nonetheless: Microsoft, one of the largest players in the gaming industry, was about to show us what to expect from the future of their company, and thus the industry as a whole.
After Halo gameplay and an enthusiastic round of applause, we saw footage of some terrorist-shooting action with a protagonist that looked quite familiar to us. Oh yes, it was Sam Fisher, showing off his upcoming title Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Stealth action takes precedent here, but we also saw some incredibly cool action moments, with slow-time sequences to allow the player to nail the perfect headshot. One new feature that doesn't surprise us is Kinect integration, with the voice recognition function letting the players shout commands and even distract enemy guards. It looks like Sam is desperate to know what this Blacklist thing is, and, of course, so are we. Unfortunately we won't' find out until Spring of 2013.
And speaking of Kinect, FIFA '13 is getting "Better with Kinect," with its own addition of voice features. But for us Americans, we have a completely different sport that we call Football here. In honor of "American Football," Joe Montana took the stage to play some Madden 13, also with voice features à la Kinect like calling plays.
Then we were taken back to Albion, with some gameplay footage from Fable: The Journey. Again, Kinect was taking center stage here, letting the player wield some magic. It reminded us a bit of Sorcery, that quaint PS Move title that just launched last month, only without the goofy wand.
Next we saw the briefest of teasers for Gears of War: Judgment, with quick shots of Gears in chains and a familiar face: Baird. The conference quickly shifted gears, drilling our ears with dubstep while showing us pretty footage from Forza Horizon.
And then the focus shifted to the Xbox 360 as your one-stop shop for all your home entertainment needs. Bing will soon let you search movies by genre, and this feature is getting support in several new languages. The examples we were shown involved Spanish voice commands, and they seemed to work swimmingly.
New partners were announced for the Xbox's video suite, including Nickelodeon, Paramount, Machinima, and Univision. And for sports fanatics, the NBA and NHL were added, as well as a greatly improved ESPN service which lets you view content from ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, and ESPNU in HD.
Speaking of sports, Nike wants to turn your electronic devices against you in hopes of making you a healthier person. They've already hijacked our iPods to make us trim down, and now they're conspiring with Kinect with Nike + Kinect Training. Kinect becomes your personal trainer, critiquing the way you work out to ensure that you'll get the most out of your workout.
We were then introduced to Xbox SmartGlass, which aims to bring together your Xbox 360 and all your mobile devices. One example we were shown allows someone to start watching the new Sherlock Holmes film on a tablet, then finish the movie on a TV from exactly where it left off while the tablet displays info on the actors and things. Also, this feature will let you learn things about Game of Thrones that you never even thought you wanted to know.