Just like that, we’re all out of E3 conferences. Sony and Nintendo both had impressive showings that really put Microsoft to shame, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out which conference we’ll be putting our focus on. I expected to have quite a few more misses, if only because I was nervous about Move after the terrible showing Kinect had at Microsoft’s show yesterday. Turns out that Sony’s keynote ended up being rock solid throughout, so I can’t make any snarky comments I spent all night writing.
Enough talk, though. Here’s what went down.
3D all up in your kitchen… or living room
The sequels on display weren’t a surprise to anyone — we’ve been hearing about Killzone 3, LittleBigPlanet 2, Infamous 2, and MotorStorm: Apocalypse over the last few days and weeks. The most interesting thing about many of these titles is Sony’s aggressive push towards 3D technology.
The Killzone 3 pre-alpha gameplay shown was impressive in its own right, but the audience on hand were shown the footage in 3D, a feature that will ship with the game (along with Move support). Other games confirmed to be 3D capable by Sony were Gran Turismo 5, MotorStorm: Apocalypse, and the just-announced Sly Cooper Collection. Third-party games said to be coming 3D are NBA 2K11, the new Mortal Kombat, Crysis 2, and others.
Whatever your feelings on 3D technology, Sony is making sure their hardware is worth keeping an eye on.
PSP gets a major marketing boost
The PSP has always had a strong gaming library, but it hasn’t had the same success as the DS to show for it. Quite frankly, marketing has played a huge part in that. Barring blockbuster game releases, when was the last time you’ve seen a PSP commercial?
Well, Sony are finally doing something about that with their new “Step Your Game Up” campaign featuring a young kid named Marcus. The first ad will feature Marcus being hired onto the PlayStation brand by Kevin Butler via his own “Dear PlayStation” clip, with subsequent ads featuring him answering questions about PSP games a la KB. This gives the PSP a face much like Butler has done for the PS3 and injects some much-needed personality into a handheld that deserves more positive attention than it gets.
PlayStation Plus is a huge minus
The announcement of PlayStation Plus wasn’t a surprise at all, and initially it seemed to be exactly as expected. For $18 for three months or $50 per year, subscribers get early or exclusive access to game demos and betas, as well as free themes, avatars, and downloadable games. Most importantly, online multiplayer will remain free for everyone. Great, right?
Eh, not quite. For whatever reason, and only Sony knows why, it was decided that the games they let you download are only playable for as long as you subscribe to the service. The moment you stop paying, the games you essentially paid for are no longer yours to play. You’re leasing game, basically.
Again, no one knows why Sony thinks this is a good idea, but I know more than a few people were turned off as soon as Jack Tretton said the words “for the duration of your subscription”.
Exclusive content up the wazoo for multiplats
Several major upcoming multiplatform games are receiving exclusive content when they release on Sony’s machine, and it comes in several different forms. Most importantly, it’s all worth getting excited about.
EA showed a couple of PS3-exclusive collector’s editions in the form of Medal of Honor and Dead Space 2. Medal of Honor will come with a remastered version of Medal of Honor: Frontline, while Dead Space 2 will come with the former Wii-exclusive Dead Space: Extraction. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood will have a PS3-exclusive multiplayer beta. Mafia II will launch with day-one DLC.
But the most important content of all came in the form of …
Gabe Newell eating his words for Portal 2
The head of Valve has made zero secret of his feelings for the PS3 over the past couple of years, so to see him on Sony’s stage to reveal that Portal 2 was coming to the system was a pretty big shocker. Sweetest of all Newell revealed that the PS3 would see the release of the best console version of the game, a relief to anyone who played The Orange Box on the system.
When the game releases in 2011 it will feature Steamworks functionality that PC users enjoy. This means cross-platform multiplayer, which is great if you want to play the game’s new co-op mode with a buddy using their PC or Mac. Steamworks also includes Steam Cloud, which allows you to save your games on Valve’s servers and pick up where you left off on a different machine.
A big deal, to be sure.
PlayStation Move didn’t suck
This wasn’t the most exciting part of the show, but it was definitely the biggest relief. While the technology still isn’t mind-blowing, the most important thing is that it simply works.
Sony revealed a new game built specifically for the new hardware titled Sorcery, which made excellent use of Move’s one-to-one motion tracking. The game had a Harry Potter look and feel to it, with the use of a Move wand to cast spells and drink potions and the use of buttons to navigate the game world. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 made excellent use of the controller to determine the power of your swing — simple flicking of your wrist won’t work. Finally, Sony revealed a new game titled Heroes on the Move, an action-adventure mash-up featuring Ratchet, Jak, and Sly Cooper.
The approach Sony’s taking is definitely a good one. It’s hard to say if there’s a “right” way to do motion gaming, but there’s definitely a “wrong” way.
Sony end the keynote with a bang
To say the very least. During the closing minutes we were given two huge nuggets of news — both a long time coming, if for different reasons.
Of course, I’m talking about Sony (FINALLY) giving Gran Turimso 5 a release date that you can actually circle on your calendars and revealing a new Twisted Metal game for the PS3. While I won’t believe any GT release date until the disc is spinning in my disc drive, it’s nice to see. As for Twisted Metal, David Jaffe has been denying his involvement with the game for a while now. Now that the game has been unveiled, there is plenty of reason to be excited and we can’t wait to see more over the next couple of days.
Were you surprised by how good Sony’s keynote was? Are you still unimpressed? Let us know below, or in our lively forums.