E3 2011: Sony’s Conference Revisted

After half a year of big game releases, big news, and big controversy, all eyes were on Sony’s E3 conference last night. Many went in with expectations of big reveals […]

After half a year of big game releases, big news, and big controversy, all eyes were on Sony’s E3 conference last night. Many went in with expectations of big reveals and others hoped certain concerns would also be addressed. Here at GxC you may have read some of what to expect at Sony’s conference this year. Well, we had a lot wrong and some things right, this is what we got: Sony’s E3 conference kicked off yesterday a bit after at 5 P.M. PST with a nice 3D (for audience members) montage of PS hardware and both first-party and third-party games to the tunes of house and dance rhythms. Jack Tretton, SCEA’s CEO and President, arrived on stage with a pleasant welcome and got right to the point.

What I figured would be addressed somewhere in the middle of the conference was addressed right at the outset by Tretton, first, with a bit of lightheartedness telling journalists, “You’re welcome” for giving them “controversy and bad news” in regards to the PSN fiasco; but just as smoothly he transitioned into thanking developers, publishers, and loyal fans for their support during the time and assuring all that the PlayStation brand is stronger now than ever before.

Moving swiftly along, Tretton addressed the facts that the PSN is a source of great media functions and that the PS3 is the number one source for people to access Netflix at 30% of subscribers. Another source of media entertainment that Tretton promised to be arriving later this year is a partnership with CinemaNow. After a few other words, the next installment of what may be the defining game franchise on the PS3 was introduced, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.

We were introduced to a new campaign level we had not seen before on a ship. Of course the high-flying cinematic action that is synonymous to Nathan Drake was shown. After the demo a brief overview of the game was given and news that the ENTIRE multiplayer side of the game will be released fully in October. That’s before the full game is even released. As has been seen this year, a huge focus on multiplayer has been made for this new game. After, we went into a story trailer for Drake’s Deception that showed us some new faces and some old ones, that’s right, it’s not just Drake and Sully who are back – So are the girls. Elena and Chloe made their first appearance in the new trailer setting us up for another great story and gameplay to be experienced this Fall.

After Naughty Dog’s demonstration of Uncharted 3, we had a bit of time with Resistance 3 where a story trailer was shown along with some gameplay footage. Of course Insomiac’s popular shooter is making use of Sony’s PlayStation Move controller and sharpshooter, so just like we saw with SOCOM 4, another Sharpshooter bundle is being released this time for Resistance 3 in September known as the Doomsday Edition.

So far the show was pretty decent. There wasn’t too much that we had seen that we did not already know about with the exception from a few goodies like more on Uncharted 3 and the Doomsday Edition of Resistance 3, but that wouldn’t continue for too long. We had heard rumors for a while about PSP remasters and then we had confirmation about them a few weeks ago, seeing more last week with the Konami pre-E3 show. Last night, we saw even more of what will probably a regular trend into the future of gaming consoles. God of War: Origins collection was announced last night, which includes the PSP games Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta remastered in HD and 3D, completely with trophies and the whole shebang. Further, the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus collection was also briefly shown (which will as a matter of fact be released this September). No doubt this venture into the HD remastering and cross-platform gaming will continue to evolve as the industry and technology does as well.

Just as soon as the software portion of the show was lining up, we got a bit of a curve ball when Jack Tretton took stage again and introduced a new bit of hardware for the PS brand. 3D has no doubt become a major focus for Sony both on their TVs and their games. With the PS3 leading the race into 3D gaming, Sony thought it might be fit to complement it with an affordable and advanced 3D monitor to be released later this year. This 24″ PlayStation monitor which will retail for $499 (MSRP) will be bundled with a HDMI cable, a pair of 3D glasses and Resistance 3. It’s good not just for hooking up to your PS3 but also using as a PC monitor, it can be hooked up as your TV, and other HD devices. You can read more about this monitor and its specs here and here.

Next on the agenda to be addressed was the PS Move. You may have read our retrospective on the controller and games in addition to the “what we expect” segment, so you know that we were hoping for a bit more from the controller this E3. If you are a Move owner yourself, you probably want more as well. The PlayStation Move segment of the conference kicked off with 2K games developers taking the stage showing off a bit of NBA 2k12 which will have Move controls. Added to that portion of the show was a bit of star power when Kobe Bryant of the L.A. Lakers took the stage and played around a bit with the Move functions in a game of NBA 2K12 saying how real the game is (except for the parts when Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat made a field goal on him *GO HEAT!* which he joked around about).

MOVEing along with the Move segment of the conference, a new action adventure game was unveiled known as Medieval Moves was demoed. It wasn’t too impressive to say the least. Move support for the UGC section of Sucker Punch’s just released inFAMOUS 2, will also be made available this Fall. Already there are some Move functions with Little Big Planet 2 (more specifically Sackboy’s Prehistoric Adventure) but more in-depth UGC tools with Move were also promised to be available later this year.

The Move section of the conference wrapped up with promises of a lot more to come for the PS Move both for the core and the casual. Tretton promised that by the year’s end, over 200 games worldwide would be available to play on the Move. A collage of titles to incorporate Move was shown on screen which included a few of these titles (and franchises) that were not mentioned before:

  • TransFormers
  • Resistance 3
  • 007
  • Start the Party 2
  • Eye Pet & Friends
  • Family Game Night 4
  • Phineas and Ferb: 2Dimension
  • Carnival Island
  • House of the Dead Overkill Extended Cut
  • Everybody Dance
  • Harry Potter
  • UFC Trainer
  • Little Big Planet 2
  • Cabela’s
  • Spider-Man
  • NBA2K12
  • Medieval Moves

After the main focus on Move had passed, we were shown a launch trailer for inFAMOUS 2, and then a new story trailer with some gameplay for the recently announced game StarHawk. FINALLY, we had a first look at a trailer for what Tretton admitted to be a highly requested game, the next addition to the Sly series (which was teased in the recent HD collection release). Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time was officially revealed with a trailer that showed plans for a release in 2012. If you have not had a chance to play any of the Sly games, you can get the HD remastered collection right now with all three of the first games on one disc. Play it before next year’s big release!

Over the weekend we reported on a rumor, one that particularly interested me because it was about a game I have been keeping my eye on since 2009: DUST 514. As we thought, the CCP console extension of the EVE universe was announced to be a PlayStation exclusive, not only coming to the PS3 (with Move Support) in the Spring of 2012, but also making its way to the NGP (or Vita as it is now named; We’ll get to that announcement), and PlayStation Home. Find out more about DUST 514 here.

Next we had what I felt was a fairly surprising announcement, rather an unlikely one, from 2K games and Irrational Games. Ken Levine creative director of Irrational Games, announced that the new title Bioshock: Infinite will be Move enabled and that a new project set in the Bioshock universe would be coming to the NGP as well (although it is still in its very early stages). So once again another hefty and core title to use the Move with. An added bonus for people who purchase Bioshock: Infinite on the PS3 will be a free copy of the original Bioshock title on the same bluray disc – a pattern we have seen in the recent past with many third-party studios.

Along the same line of thought with PlayStation exclusive content and special editions from third-party studios, Sony went on to announce a few more exclusive deals that they had coming for the PS3. The next partnership was with THQ and their upcoming game, Saint’s Row: The Third which will have exclusive game modes and content added to the game for PS3 users. Next, Paramount and Bad Robot also drew up a partnership with PlayStation that include a Star Trek game based on JJ Abrams next film coming in 2012, and a PS exclusive prequel to the game. Both are 3D compatible and Move enabled games. Another little bonus for those Star Trek fans out there will be a “phaser” accessory for the PS Move.

Still along the lines of PS exclusive content and partnerships, EA (as predicted) will play a huge part in that realm.  A few titles with exclusive content from EA include:

  • SSX
  • Need For Speed: The Run
  • Battlefield 3
Finally the conference hit the point that everyone was waiting on, the full North American reveal on the NGP. Sony’s President Kazuo Hirai took the stage and introduced the official name which we all heard rumored, PlayStation Vita. Vita will be released this year during the Holiday season in two versions and prices.
  • Vita WiFi – $249
  • Vita 3G/WiFi – $299
In addition to a name and price tag, Hirai also announced a partnership with AT&T to provide that 3G service to the device.
More on the Vita, we saw quite a few original titles and not ports coming to the handheld which included:
  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss
  • Ruin
  • ModNation Vita
  • Little Big Planet Vita
  • Street Fighter x Tekken (with inFAMOUS’ Cole as a playable fighter)

What was said about the Vita being a developer’s dream must have had some truth because Vita has support of just about all major publishers worldwide with over 80 titles in development at the moment. With that news, Hirai handed the stage back to Tretton who offered a few closing words emphasizing what he called the strongest days for the PS brand and the best entertainment experience available.

Not all of our expectations were realized and I wouldn’t say that there were too many “wow” factors of the show, but Sony’s E3 conference was surely balanced and well delivered. There was just enough focus on each of their announcements with some good-looking titles and hardware that was shown. What were your thoughts of this year’s Sony E3 conference? Sound off in the comments below!