Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference immediately began sucking people in with a live-action trailer sequence that seamlessly transitioned into in-game footage of Halo 4.  With single-player gameplay footage being widely anticipated for this press conference, Microsoft and 343 Studios wasted no time or words before stepping into the action.

Immediately, it was easy to notice the jump in graphical detail – in the effects, environments and creatures.  I also noticed in the demonstration that they focused heavily on enemy intelligence and gun reclamation.  While what they showed in the demo was short, it was exactly what the people were looking to see today.

Ubisoft came on stage to show off the next Tom Clancy game: Splinter Cell Blacklist. Set for a Spring 2013 release, Ubisoft did an excellent job showcasing their use of Kinect, but more importantly, that it is integrated well and doesn’t look too gimmicky.  This was evident by the use of a “Hey you!” shouted at the Kinect and the enemy responding in kind.

Next up was Andrew Wilson from EA Sports to demo the Kinect interface for Madden 13 and FIFA 13.  While the inclusion into Madden wasn’t jawdropping (neither was Joe Montana’s performance), FIFA’s use of your audible reactions to the game in real time being used in the game’s presentation was fun to watch.  I do hope both functions can be turned off.

Before moving onto the Entertainment (read: not games) section of the press conference, Microsoft Studios did briefly showcase a few “small games” like Fable The Journey, Gears of War Judgment and Forza Horizon. I remain cautiously optimistic with Fable, although if I cannot sit down to throw spells, I’m out.  Gears of War Judgment places Baird as the protagonist to continue the series and has a 2013 release. Lastly, Forza Horizon looks to be a Cannonball Run, cross-country driving sim that’s aiming for a crowd…well, I’m not really sure.

The rest of the show was mostly dedicated to proving to you that you want to be connected to your Xbox 360 for everything: searching using different languages, watching your favorite clips from Machinima or catching your favorite programs from ESPN live.  Don’t have enough music services in your life, Microsoft will be releasing Xbox Music, which will allow you to stream and share with all your Xbox Live friends. With no talk of pricing and the demonstration punctuated by having the audio drop out from the presenter, this may be a while coming.  Lastly shown in this segment was the announcement of a partnership between Microsoft and Nike to bring us Nike+ Kinect Training.  Set for release in holiday 2012, they seemed to want to really integrate exercising and fitness into our lives using XBL and our smart phones. I am curious to see more, especially if they have a focus on getting an overweight guy like me off the couch and exercising without making it so difficult that I quit at the beginning.

One of the major reveals for Microsoft today was the announcement of Xbox Smart Glass.  Connecting to your tablet or phone (they included Microsoft/Windows 8, Android and iOS), Smart Glass will interact with what you’re doing on Xbox Live to seamlessly integrate extra content.  The big example was watching Game of Thrones on HBO Go on your Xbox and getting information and maps on your tablet.  They also trotted out what developers thought they could do with the Smart Glass technology (make plays on the tablet in Madden 13 or get up-to-minute info from Halo Waypoint on your tablet – including game invites).  This, of course, looks amazing, but seriously, I can’t imagine the extra work involved for developers to fully integrate this technology before 2014.

Outside of games and apps, Microsoft plans to release Internet Explorer to Xbox and your SmartGlass devices.  The presentation was great because he announced web browser on Xbox and everybody “OOood” then the picture came up for Internet Explorer and immediately the crowd changed to “Oh.” Whether you are a fan of IE or not, it did look fairly seamless, including the ability to scroll and click from your SmartGlass device. This requires a wait-and-see approach.

Things seemed to wrap up quickly after that with game play demonstrations from Crystal Dynamics and Capcom showing Tomb Raider and Resident Evil 6, respectively.  Tomb Raider continues to look amazing, especially with the water elements and effects department.  I also think they may have (thankfully) toned down Lara’s grunts from their E3 2011 demo.  Nothing in Resident Evil 6 looked super new: zombies – check, quick time events – check, maybe not being able to run and shoot still – check. I know this doesn’t bother me, personally, but I know many of you readers are going to freak.  Both did announce that their first round of DLC will be exclusive-first on XBL.

There was also a group of World Premiere Exclusives for Xbox, including Ascend: New Gods by Signal Studios, LocoCycle by Twisted Pixel and Matter, which is a Kinect game that somehow has Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean) involved.  All slated for a 2013 release, I’m guessing this is teasing next year’s Microsoft House Party.

Then there was this odd showcase where I don’t think they knew where to stick these games because there was a short demo for a Kinect game called Wreckateer, Trey Parker and Matt Stone came out to talk South Park: The Stick of Truth and Dance Central 3, which had almost nothing to show, so Usher came out and a music video broke out.  I’m excited to see what Obsidian has up their sleeves for the South Park game, but this segment felt like a lot of filler.

Filler, leading up to the trailer and game play demonstration of the single player of Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. As expected, it looks good and the game play looks crisp and clean. If you’re the one person who hasn’t heard, it’s releasing on 11/13/2012.

Simply a great start to E3.  Stay glued to COIN-OP TV for more E3 2012 coverage throughout the week for all the news, analysis and trailers you can handle.