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E3 2012 Day One Recap

by Jeff Cork on Jun 04, 2012 at 04:25 PM

E3 2012 kicked off today in Los Angeles, and companies including Microsoft, Sony, EA, and Ubisoft showed off what they have in store for games in 2012 and beyond. If you were expecting something significant, like a next-gen hardware announcement, you were probably disappointed. Otherwise, the day was packed with news and first looks from a variety of incredible-looking titles. We've compiled the highlights in our day one recap.

Microsoft started out the day with a look at Xbox 360 exclusives Halo 4 and the newly announced Gears of War: Judgment. From there, the company highlighted some of the new functionality that's heading to the console this year. The Xbox 360 is getting a Web browser this fall, which naturally supports Kinect. It's powered by Microsoft's Bing search engine, and the company says it's designed to make browsing videos easier than ever. We'll have to wait and see if safe search is locked in the "on" position. A new music service is coming, too, which looks substantially more robust than the anemic support for Last FM.

Microsoft seemed especially proud of its new SmartGlass system, which allows players to connect their existing phones and tablets to the 360. That includes devices that run on Windows Mobile, iOS, and Android, so you won't have to buy any additional hardware. That is, you won't if you already have a supported smartphone or tablet. The tech allows viewers to see related information while watching a movie, for example, or expanded sports statistics while watching a game. If your tastes run more to the active side of things, Nike announced a partnership with Microsoft, which adds its Nike+ fitness system to the console.

Aside from those announcements, Microsoft shared the bulk of its time with its third-party partners. Those included extended gameplay demos of Tomb Raider, Resident Evil 6, and South Park: The Stick of Truth. South Park creators Matt Parker and Trey Stone couldn't resist taking a jab at SmartGlass, saying it's great that people can now play games connected to their tablets, which are connected to their computers, which are connected to their ovens, all from inside their refrigerators. It was funnier when they said it. Ubisoft also revealed the latest entry in the Splinter Cell saga, Splinter Cell: Blacklist. It supports Kinect (of course), so you can attract a guard's attention by yelling something along the lines of "Over here, clownface."

Microsoft's press conference wrapped up with a look at Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. In keeping with tradition, Activision will be delivering DLC on the Xbox 360 first in another set of timed exclusives.

For a complete wrap up of Microsoft's press conference, check out our reaction story.

Electronic Arts had a few announcements of its own, including Dead Space 3 and its co-op mode, a new Criterion-made Need for Speed title, and the fact that Star Wars: The Old Republic will be free to play (up to level 15). The publisher also revealed that it had acquired the UFC license (which THQ most recently held), though aside from an appearance from the hulking Dana White, there wasn't anything to see. Shooter fans can look forward to Crysis 3 and Medal of Honor: Warfighter, which both got a fair amount of time on stage.

[Next Up: Ubisoft and Sony show off what they've got]

Nintendo's press conference is tomorrow morning, but that didn't stop Ubisoft from showing off a pair of games for Nintendo's upcoming Wii U. First, they gave an extended look at a new Rayman game, which includes new levels and gameplay exclusive to the Wii U. Judging from what they showed, including a fast-paced platforming section with action that cleverly synched to a shredding metal song, the additions are more than just tacked on to the core game. There was also a look at Zombi U, a mature-rated game with a trailer that was heavy on style and shy on actual substance. Ubisoft also flashed a screen with other Wii U games that it's developing, and it included a few surprises. The publisher reaped the rewards of being an early supporter of the Wii, and it's clear that it will be taking a similar approach with that system's successor.

Far Cry 3 and Assassin's Creed III also got plenty of stage time, and after seeing both games in action it's clear why. Far Cry's demo started off with a gyrating (and topless) woman, and ended with a surreal walk down a path of TV monitors. Seriously. Assassin's Creed III showed how well the series' traditional wall-scaling action translates to a completely new setting: Revolutionary War-era America. 

Ubisoft saved a big surprise for last, revealing a completely new IP. Watch Dogs is set in the near future, where a central computer system compiles a startling amount of data on citizens. The player character (or characters) is able to hack into this system, allowing him to infiltrate areas by scrambling cell-phone signals, causing traffic accidents by manipulating traffic lights, and more. It looked great, even generating some chatter that we were looking at a bona fide next-gen game. We'll see.

Sony wrapped up the day with its presser, and they had plenty of great stuff to show off. It started with a look at Quantic Dreams' new game, Beyond: Two Souls. Actress Ellen Page plays the role of Jodie Holmes, a young woman who has a disturbing relationship with a what appears to be a ghost. David Cage says players will be able to interact with Holmes throughout her life, and if they play well enough they may even get a glimpse at what happens when people die. Or at least Quantic Dreams' interpretation.

We'd already seen Assassin's Creed III and Far Cry 3 at Ubisoft's press conference, but Ubisoft saved a little bit for Sony. The company demonstrated Assassin's Creed III's naval battles as well as live gameplay from Far Cry 3's four-player co-op campaign.

Sony naturally made a big push for the Vita during its presentation, revealing that not only is PlayStation All Stars: Battle Royale coming to that platform, but that it is fully compatible with the PS3 version of the game. The Vita is also getting its own Assassin's Creed game, Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, and a new entry in the Call of Duty series, Call of Duty: Declassified. If your tastes run more to the old school, news that PS One Classics are coming to Vita should be welcome news.

Younger players may get a kick out of Sony's new Wonderbook line, particularly if they think that reading stinks. The series combines interactive storytelling with augmented reality. In a particularly long demo, Sony showed off the Harry Potter-themed Book of Spells, which was developed in collaboration with author J.K. Rowling. If you've ever wondered where that Wingardium Leviosa spell came from, you may get the answers you've been seeking.

Sony had already showed off God of War: Ascension's multiplayer component, but we got to see the single-player action for the first time. Kratos fought some goat men and a guy with an elephant head.

Finally, we got to see a live demo from Naughty Dog's the Last of Us. It's as gorgeous as it is brutal, and considering we saw a guy's skull bashed in against an end table, that means something.

Those were just the highlights from Sony's press conference. Take a look at our reaction story for the complete details.

[Next up: The rest of today's news]

Now that you've checked out the major news, take a look at what else happened today. Whew!

EA Sports Puts Kinect In Madden & FIFA

Counter-Strike Hitting Consoles, PCs August 21

Spec Ops: The Line Reveals Cooperative Multiplayer Details

Microsoft Announces Matter For Kinect

Twisted Pixel's New Game Is Lococycle

Dance Central 3 Announced, Usher Joins The Team

Zeno Clash II Coming Early 2013

Atlus Introduces Brawler RPG Code Of Princess

Swearing And Violence In Devil May Cry's E3 Screens And Trailer

A Fast Look At Forza Horizon

SimCity Social Headed To Facebook

Free-To-Play Madden Social Game Announced

Battlefield 3 Premium Announced

Madden Addresses Some Crucial Areas

EA Sports Details FIFA Social Network Updates

Video Recap: Microsoft Press Briefing

Ubisoft's Avengers Battle For Earth This Fall

Ubisoft Gets Into ESports With Shootmania

The Developers Behind Toy Soldiers Show Off Ascend: New Gods

Dust 514 Beta Starting June 29

Maxis Shows Off New SimCity Screens

LittleBigPlanet 2 Getting Cross-Platform DLC With Vita

Sony Announces Assassin's Creed III Bundle

Minecraft XBLA Passes 2 Million In Sales

HTC Bringing Out PlayStation Phone