Sony held their press conference at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena with over 6000 attendees waiting to see what they had to offer up this year, especially in light of the PSN outage. Though they didn’t drop too many bombshells, Sony did their best to get people excited for the Move and their new handheld, the PS Vita.
As with Microsoft’s briefing, Sony’s show was streamed through a number of online venues including the official Playstation Blog. 3D glasses were also given to everyone there as shots of the crowd revealed – a not-so-subtle gesture that Sony is grasping the technology firmly with both hands with a number of new offerings.
Jack Tretton, the President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA), took the stage and welcomed everybody aboard. Afterwards, he wasted little time in confronting what he called the “elephant in the room”, the PSN outage. He immediately offered up apologies and kept it short, addressing it as Sony had been doing in the past several weeks, and then moving quickly to the meat of the conference – the games. The message was clear.
Uncharted 3 kicked things off with new gameplay footage showing Nate’s harrowing fight and then an escape from a capsizing ship whose halls were filling with water. Also mentioned was a tie-in promotion with Subway for access to the full multiplayer beta in October.
The HD collection of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus were also mentioned.
The first surprise of the show was the introduction of a Playstation branded, 24″ HD display. Not only is it also a 3D display, but it can split the feed through the use of glasses to give two players their own gameplay view instead of splitting the screen. The glasses, a six foot HDMI cable, Resistance 3, and a PS3 are all included in the bundle for the price of $499. It’s slated to come out this fall.
Next came the part of the conference focused on the PS Move which, according to Sony, has sold over 8.8 million units worldwide. NBA 2K12 was shown off using the Move and Kobe Bryant came out to give it a try onstage for the crowd.
Another Move game, Medieval Moves: Deadman’s Quest, was shown next. Developed by Zindagi Games, it’s an action adventure where a player fights with sword and shield against cartoonish enemies like skeletons against a whimsical fantasy backdrop. A grappling hook can open up different paths, an the action looks geared towards the younger crowd though I wouldn’t mind getting a crack at it myself.
Infamous 2, which comes out on Tuesday, also sported a new trailer. Later plans include user generated content such as being able to create new missions as well as Move functionality.
Starhawk was also shown off, and the trailer announcing a new Sly Cooper game, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, had also come out teasing a release for 2012.
CCP, the developers of the PC MMO, EVE Online, then arrived onstage to show off Dust 514. It’s being positioned as an MMOFPS featuring ground combat across different worlds. But it’s also going to tie into the events of the PC MMO, EVE, which was a surprise to hear. That experience will be shared on a single “supercomputer” using Move, a space on PSN’s Home, and even the NGP (PS Vita). A closed beta is expected for the end of this year with a full release in the Spring of 2012. As for how an MMOFPS will influence events in EVE and vice versa, that was left a little vague but I’m sure more details will roll in later.
Next up was Bioshock Infinite from Irrational Games with Ken Levine speaking about Move after the trailer. At this point, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to hear that Move was going to be added to it somehow. What was a surprise was a little teaser on a new Bioshock IP for the PS Vita to expand the universe. PS3 owners will also get an exclusive extra thanks to blu-ray with the first Bioshock included with Bioshock Infinite when it releases sometime in 2012.
The next few games were briefly touched on, such as Saint’s Row 3, the new Star Trek co-op game featuring Kirk and Spock with plans for a custom Move controller designed to look like a phaser, and a new SSX game. NFS: The Run was also mentioned along with special blu-ray only extras in the form of special cars such as the Bugatti Veyron. Pushing the blu-ray wagon even further was the mention of the PS3 release for Battlefield 3 which would also have Battlefield 1943 included on the same disk.
Kaz Hirai, Sony’s Executive Deputy VP, arrived afterwards. He briefly touched on the PS3 outage right before moving into the big hardware announcement for Sony: the PS Vita.
The PS Vita, also formerly known as the NGP, is Sony’s new handheld successor to the PSP. It will feature two analog sticks, front and rear touch sensors, Sixaxis motion, and front and rear cameras. It will be in two models: a WiFi model, and a Wifi model with 3G compatibility. When AT&T was mentioned as the partner that was signed on for the Vita, there were a few chuckles followed by a collective groan. After hearing stories from iPhone users on their AT&T experiences, including my brother’s, it was almost expected to hear that.
The Vita will also have two services – Party and Near, both of which are social tools to help connect you to friends or find new content. After going over some of its hardware and social integration features, the conference moved on to the games focused on it.
A new Uncharted game, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, was shown on the unit along with touch screen-centric commands such as tapping on ledges for Nate to jump towards or “painting” a series of handholds for him to climb along. Tapping on a bad guy caused Nate to either shoot at them or pull them over the edge if he was hanging just below.
A social action RPG called Ruin came next which looked like Diablo/Torchlight for the Vita. Developed by Idle Minds and Sony San Diego, other players can jump into the game which features a “dynamic” battlefield. There will also be a PS3 version of the game, but the biggest surprise here was how a player on the PSP version could stop and then pick up immediately where they were on the PS3. It was like Konami’s Transfarring, only better in how seamless it made things.
ModNation Racers was next, though it was a version designed from the ground up to support the Vita. Cross-platform functionality was also being pushed with cloud saves, online competition, an content sharing. Items such as costumes could be exchanged between the PS3 and the Vita versions of the game, as one example.
Capcom arrived with Street Fighter X Tekken (SFxTK) for the Vita. In a special collaboration with Sucker Punch, the developers of Infamous, Cole’s character will be in the game with electricity-oriented attack styles.
Kaz Hirai finished off this part of the conference with announced prices for the PS Vita. The WiFi only version will be $249, while the WiFi/3G version will be $299. After that, Tretton took the stage again with a few final remarks and ended the conference as the stage opened up to reveal the arcade behind it to sample nearly everything that was talked about.
Sony’s message was clear – they’re moving past the PSN outage and on to what they want to do best with their gamespace on the PS3 and the PS Vita. They’ve managed to pick themselves up off the ground, though there’s still work to be done. But they’re also ready to have fun again.