Microsoft’s session was all about big franchises and the Kinect. We saw footage from some major sequels and heard about some interesting new technology. Here’s the breakdown.

Opening Comments & Halo 4
The conference kicked off with some epic cutscenes and gameplay footage from Halo 4. In the video, the UNSC Infinity crashes toward the surface of the the same planet Master Chief is on. He travels through some dense jungle on his way toward the ship, and fights off some new, inorganic enemies along the way. The trailer ended with the tagline, “An ancient evil awakens.” Halo 4 is set to release November 6th. Check out the footage below, courtesy of IGN.

After the Halo 4 footage, President of Interactive Entertainment Don Mattrick gave a short speech introducing the conference before Ubisoft showed off the newest entry in the Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell series.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
The footage showed a setting on the Iran/Iraq border, and the folks demoing the game described the Blacklist as a “terror ultimatum of escalating attacks on U.S. interests.” The demo jumped straight into the action as Sam Fisher took down enemies with guns and melee combat in his effort to locate a terrorist leader. This title will take advantage of the Kinect’s voice recognition capabilities. For example, you will be able to speak aloud to draw in enemies from a distance for surprise attacks. Splinter Cell: Blacklist will hit stores in Spring 2013.

EA Sports & Kinect Integration
Andrew Wilson from EA Sports detailed the Kinect controls for Madden NFL 13 and FIFA 13. FIFA 13 will allow you to substitute players, change formations, etc., using your voice. Wilson also highlighted a referee feedback system that will track how you react to calls. EA brought in Joe Montana himself to demo a bit of Madden. The former quarterback used voice commands to make calls, tell individual players what to do, etc. FIFA 13 comes out this Fall, and Madden NFL 13 will be available on August 28th.

Random Trailers #1
A few quick teasers followed the EA Sports report. The video for Fable: The Journey showed plenty of bloody battles, and it looks like Kinect controls will have you moving around your hands to cast spells. The Gears of War: Judgement trailer came next, noting that the game will come out in 2013. The block of trailers ended with a short one for upcoming racing title Forza Horizon.

Talking Tech #1: Voice Search, New Entertainment Services, & Xbox Music
Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing officer for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, showed off Bing’s voice search capabilities. He noted that you will be able to search for movies by genre, and any video providers that operate through the Xbox 360 will be included in results. Microsoft is also adding voice control for more languages. Mehdi then announced four new entertainment providers that have signed on with Microsoft to bring videos to the 360: Nickelodeon, Paramount Movies, Machinima, and Univision. Also, sports lovers will soon be able to watch NBA and NHL games through the 360. Shows from ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, and ESPNU will be available as well. Mehdi ended his talk with Xbox Music, which will allow you to listen to millions of tracks on your Xbox 360 or Windows 8 device.

Nike & Kinect to Try Fitness Training
Stefan Olander from Nike was up next, and he announced a new fitness title called Nike+ Kinect Training. He said that the program will provide the same assessment training, methods, and feedback that major athletes receive, plus it will be able to send you phone reminders when it’s time to work out. If you’re one of those people who likes the social aspect of going to the gym, Nike+ Kinect Training has you covered. You will be able to find other users to challenge and work out with through the Xbox 360. Nike’s announcement ended with the tagline, “Get athlete fit,” and listed Holiday 2012 as the release date.

Talking Tech #2: Xbox SmartGlass Integration with Your Smartphone/Tablet
Mark Whitten, the head of Xbox Live, came out next to demo Xbox SmartGlass, a new system to connect your console with your “smart” devices for a more immersive entertainment experience. Whitten started off by showing that you can begin a movie on your tablet, pause it there, send it to your 360, and continue watching on the television. As he watched the movie on the TV, information about the cast, characters, etc., appeared on his tablet with SmartGlass. Whitten also revealed that for series like Game of Thrones, it will be possible to use your tablet view a map showing where in the fictional world events take place as they happen on screen. As for games, it looks like Microsoft took a note from the Wii U, allowing SmartGlass users to control certain aspects of games from their tablet. One other big reveal was the arrival of Internet Explorer on the Xbox 360, which is slated for this year. Users will be able to navigate the browser with voice commands, scroll through pages with a tablet or phone, etc. The emphasis for all of the SmartGlass-related announcements was the fact that you’ll be able to do all of this with devices you most likely own already.

Tomb Raider
The folks from Crystal Dynamics provided a real treat with some footage from Tomb Raider. Things started off with Lara Croft using a bow to take out some enemies. She then ran through some kind of wreckage, jumping and zip lining across some crazy chasms and killing more people along the way. Finally, our heroine was swept along a debris-choked river to a waterfall, nearly plummeting to her death in a forest below. Tomb Raider is set to come out on March 5, 2013, with DLC to be available on the Xbox 360 first. Here’s the trailer from IGN.

Random Trailers #2
Another brief trio of trailers followed the Tomb Raider footage. First up was Ascend: New Gods from Signal Studios. Twisted Pixel’s LocoCycle was next, followed by a new Kinect game called Matter. All three titles are set to release in 2013.

Resident Evil 6
Hiroyuki Kobayashi and Eiichiro Sasaki from Capcom introduced some gameplay footage from Resident Evil 6 after the second trio of shorter trailers. The video followed Leon Kennedy on a mission to find survivors. It showed Leon killing enemies, dodging explosions, and doing a very small amount of sneaking around. The scene ended on a helicopter escape straight into a massive group of monsters. Resident Evil 6 certainly looks like it will have some action, but let’s hope it has more of the horror/survival aspects that the series does best. You’ll be able to pick it up on October 2nd.

A nifty looking new Kinect game called Wreckateer took the stage after Resident Evil 6. As the title might suggest, Wreckateer seems to be all about destroying things. You’ll use Kinect controls to pull back a catapult, launch projectiles at buildings, and select from various ammunition types, including a flying shot that you can pilot straight to a target by spreading your arms.

South Park: The Stick of Truth
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, talked about the upcoming RPG based on their hit TV series. In South Park: The Stick of Truth, you play the New Kid, who is trying to become the fifth member of Cartman, Kyle, Stan, and Kenny’s group. The boys have determined that the New Kid has a mysterious power, and that he/she is the only one who can save the town. Parker and Stone said that they were pleased with how much the game looks like the show and noted that for the first time, we’ll be able to see where various South Park locations are in relation to each other.

Closing The Session: Dance Central 3 & Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
The Microsoft press conference ended on two more big franchise titles, starting with Dance Central 3. There was a brief video showing some of the new dance moves, and a performance by Usher Raymond followed. After the Dance Central 3 trailer came some footage for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. It opened with a group of soldiers transporting the president through a chaotic future Los Angeles. There’s a war on, and this video shows the player using all kinds of weaponry to protect the president. Next, the trailer skips to a scene that has the player running and fighting through a shopping mall, culminating in a section where you pilot a fighter. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 comes out November 13th.

Between the tech and game news presented in this session, looks like Microsoft is really pushing Kinect titles and integration with other Windows devices. Which of these announcements has you most excited?

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