June 4, 2012 at 12:15 PM ET
Before we start, let me just note that Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal. But that doesn't mean they give us all the secrets ahead of time, so here we are at their big E3 presentation at Galen Center in Los Angeles.
9:15 - We're in! This extremely exclusive media event is held in the intimate Galen Center, a modest room that holds only perhaps 10,000 people. The line to enter was a mere quarter of a mile long. This will be an intimate gathering. Right now they are waiting for the media stragglers to enter and find their seats.
9:25 - "The briefing will begin in five minutes." Implied: enjoy the smooth sounds of our Xbox briefing radio station a little longer, please.
9:30 - After some technical difficulties on our end, we are live yet again. We've just watched a Halo cinematic and are now seeing footage of Halo 4. Master Chief is going after a downed UNSC ship and traveling through a jungle full of critters and apparently Forerunner soldiers. Thrilling Halo-style action, and VERY loud. As in my ears hurt. It looks very much like existing Halos.
9:37 - Don Mattrick is on stage welcoming everyone. Announces the Xbox is now the top-selling console worldwide.
9:40 - Now a trailer for Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Looks very good, from Ubisoft Toronto. Takes place at the Iran-Iraq border. The usual silenced shooting and gadgetry - and now you can use the Kinect as well for things like calling out to enemies to distract them. Coming in Spring 2013.
9:47 - And now FIFA 13, which uses Kinect to do stuff like sub players. Looks handy, maybe?
9:50 - Joe Montana is demoing Madden 13 - calling out plays and players, setting up the ball - actually looks quite fun. Set hike!
9:52 - Fable: The Journey, looks like a Kinect-powered Fable game. Now you can dance your way to fame with your actual body. Phil Spencer is now on stage talking up the Xbox.
9:55 - New teaser for Gears of War: Judgment. And now a new racing game - Forza Horizon, combining the technical driving of Forza with more of a Need For Speed open road thing. And dubstep, of course.
10:00 - Now you can use Kinect to search for genres and titles, which then gives you several options. So if you search for a movie, it finds the movie and then gives you the ways to watch - Netflix, Hulu, etc. Demoing use of the menu in English and Spanish - "Xbox, musica." Paramount, Nickelodeon, and Machinima have been added as video partners. And the NBA and NHL are coming to Xbox! Great news for sports fans. ESPN is expanding hugely too, lots of new shows and sub-channels.
10:04 - Xbox Music, 30 million music tracks with ways to share and such - for Xbox and Windows 8. And one more announcement, a Nike+ fitness program using Kinect. Stefan Olander from Nike is here to explain. "You can't improve what you can't measure." and "If you have a body, you're an athlete."
10:11 - Head of Xbox Live is on stage berating us for not being connected enough. Xbox SmartGlass is a way for your tablet, Xbox, TV, etc to communicate with each other - pick up where you left off in a movie, save playlists, that kind of stuff. And stuff like IMDB info is automatically loaded onto your tablet while you're watching a movie. Interactive Game of Thrones map? Sign me up. Some concepts now of how you might use it in a game - picking plays in a football game, selecting loadout or maps in Halo 4 or joining a game... could be useful. Guy just said it works with "any device."
10:18 - Internet Explorer coming to Xbox - yay? Browser on TV could be good, but it'll probably take some serious work. Control the page with your tablet. Xbox Music and Smart Glass coming to Windows 8.
10:24 - Crystal Dynamics on stage to demo the new Tomb Raider. Looks pretty on-rails, very scripted, lots of "press X not to die."
10:27 - Phil Spencer back on stage. Three new world premieres in a row. Are you ready?! First, Ascend: New Gods, which purportedly offers gameplay across multiple platforms. Giant bloody god-bots stabbing each other, coming 2013. Lococycle from Twisted Pixel, but what is it? And now a Gore Verbinski production with a sphere entering a world of cubes.... these trailers are very abstract, it is almost impossible to tell what the games are actually about. Could be a new Marble Madness. It's "Matter."
10:32 - Kobayashi and Sasaki from Capcom showing off Resident Evil 6. Everything is exploding, forever! Lots of stick-waggling to survive. Downloadable content for Resident Evil 6 will be coming to Xbox first.
10:37 - Alex Ruiz from Xbox Live showing off Wreckateer, a... rather simplistic castle-destruction game, obviously meant for a younger crowd. Teaching our children to destroy castles that are full of explosives. "Well done, young lad!" says the in-game teacher to our young lady presenter.
10:39 - A South Park RPG?! Where you make your own South Park Character. Sure, why not? And there are crab people. The Stick of Truth is what they are calling it. Matt Stone and Trey Parker are on stage talking about the game - they wanted the game to look "crappy," which they say is actually quite hard, but they've finally gotten it.
10:45 - All right, Usher just got down on the main stage for Dance Central 3. Pretty insane performance with lots of smoke and not a little lying down by the backup dancers.
10:48 - Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 gets its big debut. What happens when the enemy "steals the keys" to the American military-industrial complex? I'm guessing bullets are involved. Looks like ... yes, they just blew up the US Bank tower here in LA. Fighting through the wreckage of the US while protecting the president - very patriotic, lots of room for explosions and the like. Should satisfy that craving.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website is coldewey.cc.