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Microsoft E3 round-up: Halo 4, Minecraft, Dance Central 2 and more

Microsoft’s E3 press conference has just come to an end and if you were watching with us, or kept an eye on the site, you’ll probably know most of the news by now but just in case you don’t, we’ve put everything in here.

The show opened with a Modern Warfare 3 demo, which showed a level from the game, ‘Hunter Killer’, that takes place underwater and in a submarine just outside of Manhattan. This clip lead to the inevitable announcement of timed exclusive DLC, on the Xbox 360.

We also got a look at Square Enix’s Tomb Raider reboot. There wasn’t any news regarding the title, but it was looking awesome, as was the game’s start, Lara Croft. It looks much gritter and realistic than the series’ previous installments and there was even mention of ‘survival instincts’.

Ice T and  Epic Games’ Cliffy B were then playing Gears of War 3 on the stage together, demonstrating the game’s Co-Op mode. The demo gave us a look at some mechs and a ‘pissed’ sea’ creature.  If the stunning visuals weren’t good enough for you, Ice T said the game was ‘badass’.

After this point, the show was very Kinect centered and other than one or two games, it was all about Microsoft’s motion control device.

Bioware came on the stage to announce that Mass Effect 3 would be Kinect compatible, giving players the option to use the hardware’s voice recognition technology to select conversational options and send their squad into battle. It was definitely an interesting use of the device and it seemed to work quite well. The games itself was looking as stunning as ever.

We were shown a glimpse of the new new Xbox Experience, which allows you to operate the dashboard using nothing but your voice. Saying commands like ‘Game’ and ‘Music’ would take you to the menu you wanted and absolutely everything could be controlled with the voice recognition technology. The new experience, which will be available this Fall, is also bringing with it new partnerships and live TV. You’ll be able to surf Youtube using your Xbox 360 and Kinect, as well as search games, movies, music, TV, your console and more using Microsoft’s Bing for Xbox 360 service.

The Live TV service will start in the UK with Sky, in France with Canal + and in Australia with FOXTEL. We were also presented with the announcement of a new UFC service, exclusive for Xbox 360 and Kinect, which will feature live matches, classic fights, interviews, exclusive behind-the-scenes videos and an all new interactive way to view the support.

EA’s Peter Moore announced that four of their upcoming EA Sports titles will support Kinect. PGA Tour 12, Madden NFL 12, FIFA and ‘one more that they’ll announce later’ will support Kinect controls.

The Kinect stories continued, with Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. After an impressive CGI trailer, the firm showed off the game’s new feature, Gunsmith, which will allow for 20million possible weapon combinations. As well as using a standard controller, weapons can be customized using gesture and voice recognition. It was all very impressive, especially when we were shown the ‘Random’ and ‘Optimize’ commands, which show parts flying all over the place to create an entirely new weapon. We were also shown some Kinect gameplay for Future Soldier which… wasn’t quite so impressive. In fact, this came to mind when we watched it.

We then got a brief look at Crytek’s, a Kinect powered historical combat game set in Rome and it definitely looked like one of the better Kinect titles at the show, even though all we saw was a trailer. But you don’t need more than that to know it beats Sesame Street.

Peter Molynuex then took to the stage to talk about Lionhead’s new game, Fable: The Journey, which is powered by Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3. The game is an on-rails combat game that allows players to use Kinect to use weaponry, cast spells, and man horse carriages in the new title, which is presumably a spin-off, rather than a full installment in the series.

Next up was one of the more surprising announcements of the evening; A console version of Minecraft, which will be exclusive to 360 and Kinect compatible. It’ll be out this winter.

We then got to see more childish gimmicks, with Kinect: Disneyland Adventures which recreates the entire Disneyland park and lets children experience the attraction like never before. Rides will take the form of mini games that take place in the world that themed each ride.

We also saw Star Wars Kinect, another on-rails combat game which let players battle their way through a campaign based around all 6 films, using lightsabers and force powers.

Double Fine announced their Kinect compatible game based on the popular Sesame Street, which will be out this fall.

We also saw Kinect: Fun Labs, which uses the Kinect’s impressive technology such as recognition of your body to make an avatar that looks just like you and finger tracking which allows you to draw 3D images. The title went live today and is available to all Xbox Live users.

The conference also saw the announcement of Dance Central 2 and Kinect Sports 2, which looked to be essentially more of the same but improved and with new features and the biggest announcements of the night: Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Halo 4.

Halo: CE Anniversary is a remastered, HD version of the original which features fully remastered multiplayer maps, the same multiplayer mode we know and love, a fully remastered campaign and the addition of co-op.

Halo 4 closed the conference and is the start of a ‘new trilogy’ so we can expect to see a Halo 5 and 6, as well. All we saw for this was a trailer, but it was a stunning one none the less. We’ll upload this, as soon as possible.

Edited On 06 Jun, 2011

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