E3 2011 - Sony Press Conference


I’ll be following the Nintendo press conference shortly and will be live tweeting some nonsense. You can follow me at @toomanywiresUK. My Nintendo round-up should be up sometime tomorrow, as I’m not sure I will be able to stay awake long enough to write it up immediately!

Sony’s E3 2011 Press Conference

It seemed to take a while for the Sony conference to get underway, and there was an uncomfortable five minutes of darkly lit crowd shots, during which time I became convinced that the presser had been the subject of a hacking. But no, after a rip-roaring video introduction to Sony, out strolled CEO of SCEA Jack Tretton in a snazzy tie, shirt and jacket combo. Apparently he was the only person on stage last night who had been informed that this is quite a big deal, as everyone else turned up in oversized shirts and pyjamas.

Jack immediately bit the bullet and addressed the PSN outage. He apologized to partners and consumers both, though he quickly turned it into an impressive show of numbers and boasts about the advantages of PSN. Still, he grabbed the bull by the horns and set the tone for an upbeat showing.

Sony were quick to usher out the guys from Naughty Dog who showed the Uncharted 3 demo that we were all looking forward to. Drake is out to sea on an old cruise ship, and it doesn’t take long before the vessel is sinking, but our hero still finds time to snap some necks while making good his escape.  All the key elements were present, including gun-play, melee, clambering and dramatic set-pieces. They followed this with a short trailer which teased a number of further settings as well as showcasing characters old and new.

Sticking with their premier, exclusive franchises, Insomniac were next in line to tell us a bit more about September's Resistance 3. It is August 1957 and the human race is facing extinction at the hands of the Chimera.  The showcase demoed a couple of new weapons, including a beacon which attracts Chimera and spins them round much like water down a drain. Some nasty winged Chimera made an appearance and there was an over-sized boss to remind us of Resistance’s impressive sense of scale. Insomniac added that it would have full 3D and Move support, which would become somewhat of a theme with many of the night's games.

Jack assured us that “our commitment to 3D is unwavering”, and to demonstrate this he detailed the God of War Origins Collection - featuring the PSP GoW entries – as well as the ICO Collection which will both have 3D support. He also confirmed a September street date for the ICO Collection, which drew cheers from the crowd.

3D gaming is not yet for the masses, as price remains a significant barrier to 3D adoption. In perhaps the most impressive announcement of the evening, a PlayStation brand 24" 3D display was unveiled, at the wallet friendly price of $499. Even more impressive was a feature which allows split-screen play where each player, via their 3D glasses, sees only their part of the display and as a full screen. Sony may well revolutionize the split-screen gaming experience with this affordable piece of kit.

There was lots more PS Move to follow, and to be honest most of it was as uninteresting as Microsoft's Kinect onslaught. 2K sports introduced NBA on the Move to NBA 2K12, and it looked awful and completely un-intuitive. It didn’t stop them from bring Kobe Bryant on stage, who refrained from shooting daggers at his developer competition. Medieval Moves was an example of unimaginative, motion controlled fantasy action and was one of the more forgettable moments of the show.

PSN 3rd person actioner Starhawk was next on the menu, followed by a pleasant surprise in the form of a trailer for Sly Cooper Thieves in Time, due 2012, which made the most of its stylish, animated visuals. CCP’s Dust 514, a persistent shooter which shares a universe with EVE, had an explosive trailer which revealed it as a PS3 exclusive.

The show hit its stride once again with a new trailer for Bioshock Infinite. With its distinctive style, vivid colours and striking graphics, it is hard to believe that the entire trailer is made from in-game footage. Kevin Levine followed this by letting us know, in no uncertain terms, of his initial disinterest in motion controls and how Sony have started to win him over.

Before we finally reached the NGP there were some announcements for exclusive PS3 content for multi-platform games. Saints Row the Third, Bioshock Infinite, SSX, Need For Speed: The Run and Battlefield 3 will all come with PS3 incentives of debatable worth.

Kazuo Hirai took to the stage, in someone else’s jacket no less, to finally give us what we were all waiting for: the lowdown on the NGP. Featuring dual sticks and cameras, a 5” touch screen and back touch panel, the NGP now has a name: PS VITA. I know most product names sound bad the first time you hear them, but still, Vita?

Kaz spoke on connectivity, including the inclusion of AT&T network which didn’t go down well with the audience, and preached about voice chat available through Party Room, as well as Near which will be your hub for friends, trophies and the like.

Bend’s Uncharted was the first game to be demoed and, not surprisingly, it was pretty damn good. Touch melee and climbing appeared far more intuitive than I had expected, and they are interchangeable with regular and tilt controls. They also demonstrated  “painting edges”, where you highlight paths with your finger which Drake will then follow, and finished by showing us how not to pick up an M4.

We were introduced to a number of other PS Vita games by an array of middle-aged, out of breath and badly dressed men, but none of them really stuck-out. However, the perpetually happy Yoshinori Ono gave his best sales pitch for Street Fighter X Teken on the Vita, and his enthusiasm was contagious as he introduced Cole from Infamous as a new addition to the roster.

Last of all, PSVita was confirmed for a Holiday 2011 release with a surprisingly affordable $249 price tag for the wifi model and $299 for the 3G version.

In Conclusion

Although there was no word on The Last Guardian, and it would seem that Syphon Filter 4 is a hoax, this was a very good showing from a company that is trying to move on from its darkest days. Uncharted 3 looked spectacular, though I wouldn’t have expected anything less, and we got most of the other games that had been rumoured. Although there weren’t many wow moments, the price announcements for the PS Vita and the PS 3D TV were very welcome surprises and could have a huge effect on the future of home and portable gaming. Sony have clearly learnt from their past premium price points for the PS3 and PSP, choosing to make the Vita and 3D as accessible as possible.

Sony went all-out with what it had and looked to at least challenge the magnitude of what is expected from the Nintendo presser, whereas Microsoft merely yielded to it.

Comments

  1. I loved the Uncharted trailer and demo (surprise!). And I love the Vita and the price. But it lacked surprises. I thought there would be some big PS3 announcement to end the show (like you said a SF or something new from the GoW team), so that was kind of disappointing. They still have a lot of good sfotware coming though, just not any surprises at the conference.

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  2. Yeah, I too was holding out for one last big announcement at the end. I thought the Vita demos dragged on a little too long, so it would have been nice to end them with something big.

    Great pricing on the Vita (struggling to write Vita instead of NGP)

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  3. That PS 3DTV bundle wins my vote for Best E3 Thing this year. That's the first really smart thing I've seen anyone do in relation to 3D since they all started insisting we need it.

    Uncharted 3 did look flashy. I was excited for the Drake people. The Medieval Move game looked cool to me, but I consider Sports Champions one of the ps3's five best games, and that's the same development crew. I'm sure it will support a Move in each hand, and hopefully will continue the awesomeness of Sports Champions Gladiator.

    I will happily buy a PSP2 on launch day, since the PSP has been so good to me, but it will be cold day in hell before I call it, or anything that's not a Portuguese fishwife, "Vita".

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  4. Loved the PS 3D TV, though thinking about it i cant see myself buying one as i have become too attached to playing my games on a 42" screen. Not sure 3D would convince me to downsize. Still, its definitely a step in the right direction.

    Vita is definitely going to take some getting used to, but i'm genuinely excited for its release, which doesnt happen very ofetn with portables.

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  5. sony's conference wasnt too bad. like u said, just wished they could have shown something with the last guardian!

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  6. Hey Mark. I think TGS is probably more likley for a confirmed release date for Last Guardian and, fingers crossed, a playable demo.

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