So - denying that there'll be a new Xbox this year? Cool marketing move to make the announcement a surprise, or true-fact?
Well, in a little while, I guess we'll find out.
I'm currently at the first big show of E3 2012, the big Microsoft press conference at the Galen Center in Loas Angeles. I might also still be a little... well, jet-lag and martinis is a harsh mix. Honestly, though, with the MS spin about to power up, being a little left of center is likely as good an antidote as any.
As usual the crowd of journos and industry types was around the block, and LA's finest were out in force to help with crowd control - it's always odd to see cops deployed to a gaming event, but that's just the scale of things at E3. As the venue fills up there's media activity everywhere, from folks liveblogging (*waves*), updating Twitter, doing to-camera intros, and generally hammering the free wi-fi that's keeping us all online.
And here we go...
Ah, Halo 4 live action trailer. Awesome.
So, the UNSC Infinity crashes on the eve of its first mission, pretty much on top of the Chief. Now we're in gameplay mode. The Chief, supported by good old Cortana, heads to the crash-site, and takes on some Covenant. But one of them is incinerated by some unknown technology.
And there's the new bad guys - AI driven constructs that spawn drones and have an awesome cool orange glowing effect. Chief picks up a dropped weapon, and Cortana notes that it's Forerunner technology.
Also, ears now bleeding from bass-heavy demo...
Demo ends with the Chief switching to thermal vision, and outnumbered. Halo's looking cool.
And now: Microsoft's president of entertainy stuff. Man, it weirds me out when press applauds.
"Today, it's all about Xbox 360." Yep, I guess that nails it. Nothing new this year.
"This holiday, we're going to take entertainment to your phone, ad your tablet."
Next demo... Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Pretty much a torture sim again. Ubi's now leading this through the game. Our hero's up against an international terrorist threat, the Blacklist. Wow... that's a hell of a knife-kill. Can you say rating issue?
The combat, though, is amazing. Killing in Motion is what they call it, this fluid, fast-motion/slow-motion mix of gunplay, close in combat, and brutal executions.
The game fuses controller driven gameplay and Kinect voice commands, for things like calling in airstrikes.
Head of EA Sports, Andrew Wilson... okay, I can nap now.
Madden 13 and FIFA 13... "Better with Kinect." Fifa 13's Voice interaction with the game lets you set formations, switch out players, and change tactics. Ha - Kinect even tracks your reactions to on-screen action - so, if you cuss it up, the commentators will react. Neat.
And now, Joe Montana for Madden. And we get to watch him play the game, which is kinda odd. But it's got full Kinect integration, too, letting you call plays without stopping the game.
And now, Fable: The Journey. I had totally forgotten abut this one since last year's E3. Here's Phil Spencer, Head of Microsoft Studios. Nice cardigan, dude.
"This will be the biggest year for games on Xbox."
Ah, Gears of War: Judgement - been dreading this one. Nice music in the trailer, though. Forza: Horizon is looking pretty sexy for racing fans. Though, there really is a limit to how shiny you can make a car.
Fuck, here comes the dubstep. And the game's coming October this year.
Now we're talking entertainment on the Xbox. We're getting vocie-driven genre search, which is actually kinda neat. Note to self: really must get my LIVE subscription up and running again. Bing voice search is also expanding its languages into 12 new countries. The demo is in Spanish, which is pretty neat.
And a whole mess of US sports partnership announcements. Nap tiemz again.
Exciting music news - Xbox Music. 30 million tracks in the service, launching on Windows devices as well. "Your music, your way." Essentially it looks like Microsoft is taking another run at iTunes. This time, for sure...
VP Digital Sport at Nike - bringing a new fitness training system to Xbox and Kinect. "If you have a body, you're an athlete." Brave claim there, dude.
Anyway, Nike+Kinect analyses body movement and unifies training tracking across all sports. Activities earn Fuel points, essentially gamifying athletics across console and mobile devices. I'll stick with Fitocracy, I think.
Head of Xbox LIVE, on smart devices, and getting them all working together. Xbox Smartglass, eh? Tying in tablets and smart devices into what you're watching on TV, and letting you switch what devices you're watching entertainment on. Neat stuff - while watching something like Game of Thrones in the demo, the episode's on TV, and a tablet tracks characters on an interactive map of Westeros. That's pretty neat.
Even neater, the demo of Smartglass working with Xbox games, essentially turning your phone/tablet into a controller. That's pretty epic - it's only in the concept stage, but being able to scan, for instance, waypoint data while playing Halo looks really clever.
And Internet Explorer is coming to Xbox. Well, I guess that's one way to increase the install base. Also, way to spoiler, dude. Smartglass does bring a lot to the web experience, as you can use touch to navigate Explorer. It's a pretty elegant solution, and it's coming to all devices.
Ah, Tomb Raider - new content from the "new and mature direction" of the game. There's some brutal combat using bows, firearms, and close-in kills, which seems odd for the game, but it fits in pretty smoothly with the more traditional jumping and exploration.
Also, that's a lot of blood on Lara.
Neat stuff - three new world premiers of new franchises.
So, Ascend: New Gods, essentially a cross between a fighting game and Shadow of the Collosus.
LocoCycle, from Twisted Pixel. No idea.
Gore Verbinski, however, has been working on something interesting - matter.
Moving on from more or less indecipherable trailers, we get to Resident Evil 6. Still relevant? If you like stabbing zombies in the face, yes, yes it is. Of course, all those splattered heads and dismemberments are really going to play well with the OFLC.
New XBLA game, Wreckateer - basically a Kinect-powered Angry Birds clone. And, being that it's a cute game, of course it's presented by a woman, the only game so far.
Moving right along... to South Park. "Jews can't be saviours, remember?" Yeah, this is South Park, alright. Oh wow - Trye Parker and Matt Stone on the stage, which is weird, because it's like having the South Park characters on stage.
And they rip into the whole Smartglass concept. What's really awesome is that these guys aren't working off of a teleprompt. "For the first time in fifteen years, we've had to actually map out the town - where the hell IS Kyle's house?!"
Oh, Dance Central 3. Time to nap again.
Don Mattrick - "With Xbox today, we're ushering in a whole new world of entertainment." Which is clever, see, 'cause Usher was just on stage - get it? Kill me now.
So what are we ending the show with - Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Because what's an E3 without a COD? I have to say, the near future setting and al its cool tech is looking pretty refreshing. And man, it's a busy game - looks like playing it could give you some kind of sensory overload. But there appears to actually be some interesting new gameplay concepts, and, of course, the usual mix of hyper-kinetic FPS combat, flying levels, and entire cities getting the crap blown out of them.
And that's that. Next, EA.