After Microsoft’s dismal showing yesterday, Sony seemed poised to pour on the heat, gaining even more momentum as the 360’s image was repurposed for a casual market. While Sony wasn’t able to really wow anyone with their exceedingly long showcase, they managed to avoid any real traps. Over two hours they cover a lot of ground, including new PS3 games, a new marketing push for PSP, the new PSN+ service, but perhaps more noticible were the things that did not make an appearance…
Before the event, a lot of the worry was that Sony would spend the entire show on their pitches for 3D and Move. Smartly, Sony only demonstrated 3D in a single gameplay demo for Killzone 3, followed by a reel of upcoming titles that would support 3D. They also moved quickly through the topic of Move. They had a live demo of a single, unannounced Move game called Sorcery that looked like more fun than all of the Microsoft Kinect demos combined. The game made good use of unique features like 1:1 tracking and the lighted ball that can change color and looked like a cross between Harry Potter and Fable. Another live demo showed Tiger Woods 2010 which will have Move support patched in this fall. It appeared to control very much like the well thought of Wii Motion-Plus version of the game, with Ps3 visuals.
It helped that Sony didn’t trot out an endless parade of employees to overact as they pretended they were having fun, and that they didn’t shy away from announcing prices along side the official release date, September 19th this year at $99 for a starter pack with camera, one controller and the game, Sports Champion. Extra move controllers are $49, and if you don’t actually want Sports Champion, you can save about $10 buy just buying a PS Eye ($40) and Move controller separately. The nunchuk-style “Sub-controller” is $29, but games that require it will also support using a Dual Shock/Six-Axis instead. There will also be a PS3 bundled with Move this fall for $399.
Jack Tretton listed off a bunch of games that will support Move and said over 40 developers and publishers are working on Move games. They ran another reel for Move-enabled titles from first and third parties. Most were known, including Resident Evil 5, Just Dance, SOCOM 4, Toy Story 3, Eye Pet. Some that were news to me included Move support in the upcoming TRON game, Killzone 3 and previously unannounced titles echochrome 2.0, Heroes on the Move (featuring Rachet and Clank, Jak and Daxter and Sly Cooper), and Tumble (think Boomblox).
The show kept moving with demos from EA’s Deadspace 2 and Metal of Honor, including info on PS3 exclusive collectors’ editions of each with free, PS3 enhanced versions of DS: Extraction and MoH: Frontlines, respectively. They showed a preview of Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines multiplayer and announced a PS3 exclusive multiplayer beta. Gran Turismo 5 was shown and dated for November 2 this year. Little Big Planet was shown with lots of crazy game types. Some gameplay footage of InFamous 2 was shown as well. Then they showed another reel of upcoming games. And then another one. And then another one. For about a half hour it seemed like they were just throwing to reel after reel after reel.
Just when it seemed like they should be wrapping up, out comes Gabe Newell of Valve Software to announce Portal 2 was coming to the PS3, complete with Steamworks support for saves and updates. Given his historic stance on PS3 development, this was as close to a MEGATON as we got at E3 this year, but it sounds like he was swayed by Sony’s open network stance. Finally, David Jaffe took the stage to prove himself a damn liar. They showed some live gameplay of Twisted Metal and previewed a second multiplayer mode. Could be cool, but it looked like a PSN game, maybe not a full Blu-ray release.
But for a show that seemed to go on for a really long time, it still felt like a lot of things that should have been featured were missing. The Last Guardian, which made a big impact in video form last year, was a complete no-show. The hoped for Ico/Shadow of Collosus collection was not shown. The long rumored Warhawk follow-up, supposedly called Starhawk didn’t appear. Resistance 3, which was revealed in a billboard from a movie set a while back, still has not been announced, even though Insomniac’s previous release schedule would suggest a launch this fall. The big PS3 exclusive from Rock Star Games, Agent, wasn’t shown. No PSP2 materialized. Not even the rumored hard disk size refresh for the PS3 slim happened.
Perhaps most strangely, thatgamecompany, creators of celebrated PSN game Flower, did announce their next PSN exclusive game today, but it was not shown at all during the press conference, either. It’s called Journey and looks really beautiful in the first screens. There may be some value in leaving the audience eager for more, but it seemed a missed opportunity as well. With so many of Sony’s biggest sequels being revealed in the months leading up to E3 this year, it robbed the show of much potential impact. That would have been fine had Sony blindsided the crowd with a couple really compelling surprises, but in that they simply fell short this year.