Sony's press conference was certainly a nonstop blast of excitement and news. Jack Tretton, President & CEO of Sony America opened the press conference by thanking all their fans and then jumped straight into their upcoming titles, all the while reassuring us that the Play Station 3 is still running strong. Right away it was made clear that Sony is trying to keep the Move system alive and despite is obvious lacking success atleast one major title is slated for launch, WonderBook. The topic of discussion weaved in between gaming and the future of the Sony consoles, including talks of two upcoming Sony bundles, one for Vita and one for PS3, both revolving around upcoming Assassin's Creed titles. Sony also seems to be backing Indie games and is looking to add over 200 new games over the next few months.
Sony is also pushing for their console to be the one stop shop for all things electronic entertainment, and compete with Microsoft's already established dashboard system. In addition to adding support for Hulu+ and crackle coming to Vita Sony will be adding countless PS1 titles for download on their new hand held. Speaking of upcoming hand held titles, keep an eye out for both Assassin's Creed: Liberation and a new Call of Duty called Black Ops: Declassified.
The Vita is in the process of becoming not just an independent system but a useful accessory to the PS3. Cross talk support is being added everywhere it seems to fit. For example: AC:L allows players to sync up and unlock new items for Connor in AC3. Systems are also in the works to allow the PSVita to serve as another controller and many upcoming titles will be playable across platforms. Now let's talk some games.
The first title shown off was a new title by the makers of Heavy Rain called Beyond. David Cage of Quantic Dream presented their new project set to the same gameplay style as Heavy Rain. The demo starts out with the protagonist (Jodie Holmes, as voiced by Ellen Page) sitting in a police station talking to an officer. The action picks up as the paranormal elements take over and the station is stormed by SWAT teams clearly looking for Jodie. She escapes before the teams can apprehend her and the demo cuts to a traditional trailer showing off the action gameplay.
Next up was the game we all have been keeping our eyes on, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale. Easily mistaken for Super Smash Brothers this Sony inspired twist on the classic fighting formula. Quick to be pointed out was the fact that this game would feature full cross compatability for both PSV and PS3 versions and a demo proved its capability. Among the roster confirmed are: Sly Cooper, Parapa the Rapper, Sweet Tooth, Helgast Soldier, Kratos, Fat Princess, and a Big Daddy. Gameplay was described as having to build up energy which in turn is used to release special attacks at various levels with different effects (Sweet Tooth's Level three special, for example, transforms him into his ST mech, a devistating ability that wiped the field clean.) As you unleash specials you build points and the player at the end with the most points wins. A simple premise but as we all know from SSB, this is going to be THE party game on the PS3.
Jumping from PSAS:BR we landed into Assassin's Creed 3 and a new reveal in the single player campaign mode. Ship based combat was confirmed as well as dynamic weather and sea swells. Players will take the role of Connor as you command a ship against enemy ships giving you complete control of movement and the guns. The demo starts out in calm, sunny channel waters in the Caribbean sea and once the combat starts, the weather takes a turn for the worse and we're thrown into rough seas and heavy rain. The demo ends with Connor and other crewmen grabbing blades and boarding the enemy ship. AC3 will be launched with a PS3 bundle which includes exclusive DLC.
While Far Cry 3 was shown off earlier at the Microsoft panel the team behind the title made the announcement of four-player co-op that will be separate from the single-player. The demo followed the team as they worked to destroy a bridge. Among the mechanics shown is the occasional requirement for a player to drop their weapons and work on an objective. An example is a player needing to pick up a heavy box of explosives and carry it to the demo point. While carrying the box the player moves slower and needs the other members of his team to provide cover. Of course, anyone who's played a four-player co-op game knows that sometimes we don't always coordinate the way the team did for the demo. The final reveal is the return of Map Editor and that Sony users will receive exclusive content.
One of the more interesting titles was actually the only title shown for the Move, WonderBook. Yes, that's what it's called and it's an Augmented Virtual Reality game that ties directly to a series of books being written for it by the one and only JK Rowling. To keep things simple about this title, you will read the story then interact with it by learning to cast spells such as fire and then utilize those skills against in game enemies. Whether or not this game can restore some faith in the Move is still unclear but it does move the target to a younger audience.
Jumping from the Move back into real gaming we explored the world envisioned with God of War: Ascension, a prequel to previous titles, set just after Kratos murders his family. The game still retains it's trademark fast paced hack n' slash combat against wave after wave of enemy intent on ripping you limb from limb. The demo showed Kratos battling his way through an army of goat-men while solving the occasional, but not too thought provoking puzzle. Mid way through the demo we meet one of the game's boss enemies, the Kraken and a mini-boss, the elephant-man. After slicing to pieces and ripping apart the lesser grunts and defeting the elephant man, the demo closes with Kratos charging straight down the maw of the Kraken blades drawn. And fans would expect no less. With no release date announced fans will just have to wait and be patient while more info pours out.
The final trailer debuted was that of none other than the action survival, post-apocalyptic title we've all had our eyes on for some time now. “The Last of Us” puts players in the shoes of Joel as he and his daughter Ellie navigate through the remains of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, scavenging ammo and fighting for survival. Early trailers showed off two kinds of enemy, infected humans and hostile survivors (Who's motives have not yet been explained but it's a reasonable guess to assume they're desperate for their own survival). The demo shown at E3 however only featured Human survivors and was an example of the kind of tactics you need to use to live another day. Starting with only four rounds for his pistol Joel is forced to rely on other means of defeating opponents such as hand to hand, taking human shields and improvised weapons. The AI in game is relentless, calling for help and reacting to the clicks of your empty gun. A crafting system that allows the player to make items such as molotov cocktails is also confirmed. Fans of the post-apocalyptic survival genre will want to keep at least both eyes on this one.
With no console reveal and a bare boned lineup of games shown the press conference stayed focused on what Sony was there to do; remind us that they're still in this game. And in it they are. “The Last of Us”, “God of War” and “Beyond” should give Sony fans enough food for their gaming cravings to last them quite some time. And with cross play functionality and new bundle deals, new PlayStation owners can find their way into the universe at a reasonable price. Who knows what the upcoming year will hold; more exclusives, new bundles, a new console? Only time and highly invasive journalism will tell but for new we've got enough to keep our needy gaming hands busy.