Living LIVE News Report 06.11.12
Welcome everyone to another issue of the Living LIVE News Report, and as always, I’m your host for the evening, Trace Aber. Two days ago I graduated from Wright State University, beginning my year-long sabbatical from academia. To celebrate, I’ve started a new character on Skyrim, and within the last day alone put 15 hours in. Turns out you have a lot more free time after finishing college.
E3 has come and gone and, well, it was pretty disappointing to be honest. There were no details on a new console, no shocking game reveal, and a lot of talk about apps and Kinect. Each year I become less and less interested in E3, and this year did nothing to break that habit. Some may argue that E3 isn’t for the consumers, which is fine and all, but if that’s the case why tell all of us consumers to check out all the great new footage at E3? Blah, either cater to the press or the gamers, but not both. It doesn’t work like that. Anyways, let’s see how Microsoft did, shall we?
Microsoft E3 Rundown
Microsoft broke tradition this year by showing off Halo 4 as opposed to the latest Call of Dutygame, which was a nice change of pace, I suppose. They kicked things off with a life action trailer, though part of me had hoped it was actually Durango being showed off. A man can dream, right? We find out some peace missions turned out rather deadly, and it’s up to Master Chief to set things straight. The trailer turned into gameplay footage, and the game does look beautiful. That being said, the age of the 360 is really starting to show. I think the graphical peak has been reached, and reached a long time ago. They showed off some new locations and enemies, and this ended up being one of the bright spots of the conference.
Microsoft then showed off some gameplay footage of Splinter Cell: Blacklist, focusing on the stealth gameplay you’ve come to expect from the Splinter Cell series. The game features smooth animations, badass kill animations, and, you guessed it – Kinect support. You’ll be able to shout actions using your voice, ranging from calling out a guard to distract him or calling in aerial attacks. The game is being worked on by the unproven Ubisoft Toronto, and focuses on more set pieces than other games in the franchise.
Racing fans were given good news in the form of Microsoft’s premiere racer, Forza: Horizon. The game looks ridiculously realistic (what is it with racing games having the best console graphics?) and should bring more countless hours to racing enthusiasts. Sadly, Microsoft couldn’t avoid using dubstep, which seems to be a disturbing trend in gaming trailers.
Fable Journey was given the spotlight, and as a fan of the series this just looks utterly depressing. Albion is under attack again, and the game is heavily focused on magic. The gameplay shown off makes it look like a gallery shooter, which is worse than an on-rails shooter. Fable has always been on the cartoonish side graphically, but there was just enough grit to make it something special. In Journey, it’s hard to be drawn into the landscape because it all looks so fake and plastic. I was hoping for a killer Kinect game and instead we get this mess:
They also showed off FIFA 13, Madden 13, and Gears of War: Judgment. Microsoft announced a more robust version of Bing search on the console, with 12 new languages being available on the Kinect. This includes more search features including the ability to search for films but genre and title while searching through multiple apps like Netflix or Hulu. NBA and NHL games would be streamed on the console, as well. I’m not a sport fan by any stretch, but this is a pretty cool feature to have.
And then Stefan Olander came out, who’s Nike’s President of…Digital Sport. That’s a thing. Olander was there to announce Nike+ Kinect Training, which is Nike’s answer to the training game market. The slogan pushing this game is “if you have a body, you’re an athlete,” which is clearly inaccurate. Nike is using their training methods used for top-level atheletes along with Kinect’s tracking abilities to create a one of a kind, social-gaming experience. You can challenge other players to exercise goals, and track you progress along the way.
The Xbox SmartGlass was officially revealed, though we predicted it would be in last week’s preview. The idea is if you’re watching a movie or playing a game, relevant information will pop up on your SmartGlass device. So if you’re playing Madden you’ll be able to pick plays from your tablet or phone, or start a quest in Skyrim and have a walkthrough pop up on your phone. While it’s a cool feature, this got more time than many of the video games did. And, in fact, that was a theme throughout the show – apps getting more time than games.
Speaking of apps, Microsoft also revealed the Internet Explorer app. I’m a Chrome user myself, but some people pretty adamantly support the idea that IE is actually good. I’m happy to see SOME sort of web browser come to the 360, as it’s long overdue and one of the few things Microsoft is completely behind on. Perhaps they’ll be the first console to feature a competent browser, as the PS3 and Wii browsers are clunky and inefficient. To make navigation easier, you’ll be able to use SmartGlass to control the web with your tablet or phone.
Resident Evil 6, Tomb Raider, Loco Cycle, Matter, and Ascend: New Gods were all shown off, however briefly. Thankfully Trey Parker and Matt Stone came out to save the show. They were given a proper amount of time to promote South Park: The Stick of Truth. It’s looking to be the game the show has deserved for years, and captures the intelligence and humor perfectly. The game features turned-based combat similar to Super Mario RPG, which is a great game to mimic. The two didn’t read off teleprompters and mentioned the struggle to find a company willing to make a game look like the “distinctive, crappy South Park look.” Both are working on the script but noted that it was the first time they had to map out the actual town of South Park. Sounds awesome! I’m looking forward to this more than any other game shown off at E3, but I’ve been a huge fan of the show ever since episode one.
For some reason they had Usher dance to promote Dance Central 3, which included Usher saying “Dance is central to my life.” This was awful.
Microsoft closed the conference with what they normally open with, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The game looks and plays like you would expect a Call of Duty game to, but that’s not to say it wasn’t impressive. They showed footage from a level in the future timeline of the game that showed the player shooting enemies down with rockets and sniper rifles. They also showed off a moment where you could choose which path to take – running in and going Rambo or sniping off enemies from a perch. Everybody has strong opinions about the Call of Duty games, but I figured it was a decent, if not overly safe, option to close the show. Oh, and 360 owners will get all DLC first.
When you read the recap it sounds like Microsoft gave a lot of time to the games, but that simply wasn’t the case. The true star of the show was SmartGlass, which tied into all of the other features they announced. Even though I’m looking forward to many of the apps, including the browser, I think more time should have been spent on the games themselves. It’s a tired complaint I’ve been making since last year, but that just seems to be the focus nowadays.
Finally, and this wasn’t even announced during their press conference, the Fifth Annual Summer of Arcade games have been announced. Check out the full listing below;
“Deadlight” (Tequila Works/Microsoft Studios). “Deadlight” is a puzzle platformer, where the player must take advantage of the main character’s agility to solve obstacles, and dodge zombies, manipulating the many interactive elements of the scenery. With more walking corpses than bullets, the feeling of danger is constant.
“Dust: An Elysian Tail” (Humble Hearts/Microsoft Studios). As the mysterious warrior, Dust, your action-packed journey will take you from peaceful glades to snowy mountaintops and beyond. Battle dozens of enemies at once with an easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master combat system, and uncover the story of an ancient civilization on the brink of extinction as you fight to uncover your own past in a gorgeous hand-painted world.
“Hybrid” (5TH Cell/5TH Cell). “Hybrid” is a pioneering third person shooter set in the near future, where global conflict exists between a species known as the Variant and a rebel human faction known as the Paladins. 5TH Cell strives to give players a completely new gameplay experience never seen before in the genre.
“Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD” (Robomodo/Activision). “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD” takes the best elements of the classic “THPS” games and gives them a fresh update to create an all new skateboarding experience. Tapping into fans’ muscle memories, and combining sharp visuals with the best controls ever in a Tony Hawk game, the feel is cutting edge yet timeless.
“Wreckateer” (Iron Galaxy/Microsoft Studios). “Wreckateer” uses Kinect to put you in control of a massive castle-wrecking ballista. With the help of Wreck and Tinker, travel the land and destroy 60 castles using six magical projectiles, and explore the infinite ways you can wreak havoc with “Wreckateer’s” fully-dynamic destruction.
In another announcement, Microsoft revealed 35 new content partners launching over the next 12 months. Partners include Comedy Central, GameSpot TV, Nickelodeon, Machinima, Paramount Movies, Rhapsody, Weather Channel, Univision, and more!
Random News and Notes
-For what it’s worth, another Mass Effect 3 leak hit the internet, this time for future multiplayer DLC. The tipster, who has been pretty accurate about prior DLC leaks, posted a description for what’s being called Mass Effect 3: Earth; The fighting is fiercest when it’s your home at stake! Mass Effect 3™: Earth adds mods, gear, and new maps for Rio, Vancouver, and London. It features 3 new weapons: Piranha assault shotgun, Acolyte pistol, and Typhoon light machine gun. Six new human N7 classes are also available: Destroyer, Paladin, Demolisher, Slayer, Shadow, and Fury!
-Sega has announced the closure of Phantasy Star Universe‘s online servers, set to shutdown September 7. Sega promises “there is more news yet to come for Phantasy Star, and there will be much to be excited about in the coming weeks and months.”
-Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will be released on August 21 for $15.
-Skyrim: Dawnguard is set for release on June 26, 2012. Xbox 360 owners get it first. Have those of you that signed up for the beta last week heard anything back? I haven’t, and becoming very sadden by it.
The Digital Downloads
Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown (1200MP)
Bang Bang Racing (800MP)
Mad Riders (800MP)
Games on Demand
Deepak Chopra’s Leela ($29.99)
Ninja Gaiden 2 ($44.99)
411 on Twitter!
That does it for me this week. Be sure to check back next week as we discuss all of the latest Xbox 360 news, including releases, rumors and reviews! Also, don’t forget to bookmark 411Mania! And a note to all of the Indie Game developers out there – if you have an upcoming title that’s going to be released soon drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. I’ll write a full review of your game to be posted on 411Mania.com, which is a great way to get your game promoted!