Microsoft at E3 2011: Halo 4 out 2012

Microsoft at E3 2011 - plenty of new games to please the hardcore gaming crowd, in addition to some intriguing new Kinect experiences
Microsoft at E3 2011 - plenty of new games to please the hardcore gaming crowd, in addition to some intriguing new Kinect experiences

Microsoft has kicked off E3 2011 in style in Los Angeles today, with a slew of new announcements and demonstrations of exclusive games and services for Xbox 360 and Kinect. And, as was expected and hoped, a final reveal that Halo 4 is on the way soon.

Following a momentous opening marked by a demo of Activision's forthcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and a demonstration of the forthcoming new TV and voice search features on the way to Xbox 360 later in 2011, Microsoft gave the hardcore crowd exactly what they were hoping for.

Loads of decent new games

The Xbox 360 maker is the first of the three major console manufacturers to lay its cards on the table at this year's massive gaming industry trade event, opening E3 2011 in some style, and with an almost confident swagger.

A solid range of developers took to the stage to demo loads of new and exclusive games set to arrive on Xbox 360 and Kinect later this year and next, including (in no particular order) the aforementioned Halo 4 and COD: Modern Warfare 3 along with Gears of War 3, Forza 4, Fable: The Journey, Minecraft (yes!) and a ton of other new triple-A content.

Firstly, following a quick UFC for Xbox Live announcement to please the wrestling fans, and a first look at Crystal Dynamic's new Tomb Raider title (due late 2012) Microsoft Studios Phil Spencer took to the stage to assure the audience that every single game they were showing from this point onwards in the presser was an Xbox 360 exclusive.

Starting with one of the biggest and most highly-anticipated 360 games of the year, Epic Games' CliffyB took to the E3 stage to give the latest demo of the next version of much-loved muscle-men sci-fi shooter Gears of War 3.

The Epic rep gave rap legend Ice-T a run through some of the new aspects of the co-op gameplay in the game. Nothing really new seemed to be on show in terms of the gameplay demonstrated, but why fix it when it's clearly not broke (and hugely popular)?

Following the latest Gears demo, cutting edge developers Crytek were next up to show off a title called Ryse, which will let you use Kinect motion-control for melee combat.

After that short demo, the new HD remake of the original Halo: Combat Evolved, with improved graphics and new Xbox Live maps was shown off, to the requisite whoops from the series' many fans in the crowd.

Halo: Combat Anniversary is set to be released on November 15th. A must-buy game for anybody that never got to play the original (and, most likely, a must-buy game for a large proportion of those gamers that did play the original as well).

Kinect'ing with the hardcore

Following that slew of sci-fi shooters, the latest demo of every Xbox-360-owning petrolhead's favorite Forza 4 is shown off, with the announcement that the demo was all in-game footage causing jaws to drop amongst many in the audience.

Plus, as rumoured, Kinect voice control and head-tracking features are also confirmed for the new Forza, in addition to full 16-player online multiplayer and an impressive list of 80 car manufacturers all signed up to the game, which releases on October 11 later this year.

Next up, as expected, Lionhead boss (and Microsoft Gaming Studios' creative director) Peter Molyneux took to the stage to introduce his next major Xbox 360 game, Fable: The Journey.

Kinect control is clearly going to play a major part in Molyneux's new game, as he demonstrated the games' young protagonist controlling a gypsy caravan and casting spells merely by hand movements and gestures recognised by Kinect. The impressive new Fable demo draws cheers and applause from the appreciative crowd.

Finally, just to confirm that Kinect is being developed firmly with hardcore gamers and games developers in mind, Microsoft announce that PC gaming favourite Minecraft will be heading to the Xbox 360 with Kinect support later in 2011. A very savvy - and very cool - move indeed.

Adam Hartley