In case you've been living under a rock, deprived of Internet, then it may surprise you to learn that E3 2012 is now less than a week away. As with E3s past, Monday marks the unofficial start of the entire convention, with Microsoft kicking things off in the morning and setting the wow factor bar about as high as money can buy. Titled "Xbox: Entertainment Evolved," this year's event looks to cover a broad scope of content.
Yet Microsoft has spent the last couple of years cultivating a certain image that not everyone is keen on. No one can argue that broader audiences lead to heavier profits, but since 2010, the industry giant has used E3 to really push the Xbox 360 as an all-in-one entertainment system, not to mention that cool little Kinect peripheral. Not that I'm completely uninterested in either functionality, but like many of our readers here, my primary interest lies in the 360's more "traditional" games. You know, the kind that use controllers.
Microsoft is known for their strong third party lineup, and we'd really like to see them stick to that -- just refocus on core games again. Two years ago, presenters eagerly laid out all the new features and services we're getting with the ever-evolving LIVE network, and last year, the Kinect took center stage. This year, however, we're hopeful that the Microsoft press conference will mark a return to core games; a balance, at the very least.
2012 marks new installments to two of the largest shooter franchises of all time: Halo and Call of Duty. Both Halo 4 and Black Ops 2 are being released in November, and we anticipate both titles will headline Microsoft's keynote. In 2011, the company teased a new Halo, then (likely purposefully) showed Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition during their conference, leaving quite a few fans confused or disappointed. Just before the show ended though, they dropped the Halo 4 teaser. We're fairly certain that our hopes of seeing more Master Chief goodness this year will be fulfilled.
Additionally, with Activision's Call of Duty timed exclusivity agreement with Microsoft winding to a close, this year may see a renewal for that contract, ensuring the 360 maintains first dibs on all COD downloadable content.
Continuing on Activision and Microsoft's long-standing mutually beneficial relationship, the publisher's other major titles -- such as Transformers: Fall of Cybertron and The Amazing Spider-Man -- will no doubt make their appearance as well at Microsoft's keynote. Here's hoping the former definitely gets a spotlight, however brief that might be.
Given the success of War for Cybertron, we can't imagine why Acti wouldn't flaunt Fall of Cybertron during the 360 keynote.
Then we have THQ, who happens to be publishing one of the most anticipated action games of 2012. They won't actually have a booth on the show floor this year (bummer to that), but THQ's lineup will still be present whether behind closed doors or through other first party activities. The 360 conference seems like the perfect event for THQ to showcase their titles, particularly Darksiders II.
Similarly, LucasArts might benefit from the exposure Microsoft's keynote can provide. Granted, they've already planned their new Star Wars reveal for May 31 (as a SpikeTV exclusive, even), but that certainly doesn't mean they can't also show the new franchise at the 360 conference. A gaming network for bros is pretty big, but it certainly isn't nearly as big as E3's opening keynote.
What we can confirm is that next Monday will entail world premiere content from Capcom, THQ, Ubisoft, Square Enix, and Harmonix.
Assassin's Creed III might be the obvious conclusion to jump to when hearing Ubisoft's name mentioned, but another Splinter Cell certainly wouldn't break our hearts. Let's not forget the French company's affinity for motion games either, and it's possible that Ubi will be flexing their Kinect prowess through Rayman or Raving Rabbids.
Square Enix could very well be showing more Sleeping Dogs, their unofficial successor to True Crime. Harmonix's Dance Central has always been one of the Kinect's top sellers, but a new Rock Band would be pretty cool too.
Can you imagine if all the aforementioned publishers announced Kinect functionality for their biggest upcoming titles? Yeah, we can't either.