What a helluva day for gaming. Sure, you can argue that a lot of announcements made on the first day were already outed or spoiled but exciting times nonetheless. How many days out of the year are this steeped in video game buzz?
Sony ended the flurry yesterday with their keynote conference. Taking stage to present was SCEA’s own President, Mr. Jack Tretton. He may have looked physically uncomfortable under the spotlight but he did a tasteful job of maintaining an air of professionalism which was especially welcome after listening to the combo of Aisha Tyler and the LITERAL trailer guy make uncomfortable shift-in-your-seat banter at Ubisoft’s presser.
Sony had their A game face on last night, and there certainly were some grade-A games shown off, but the presentation went soft the moment their peripherals took the limelight. Plus, while we were treated to some visual expounding on previously announced hits, there really wasn’t much in the way of fresh news. Click the jump so we can dig in.
- Quantic Dream’s new IP was the first and – when taking the whole night into account – only big surprise Sony’s conference owned. Called Beyond: Two Souls, Quantic wants to show you what they think happens after you die. We were only privileged to a cutscene showcase but company co-founder David Cage stressed the point that all footage was rendered in real-time using their juggernaut of a new engine capable of capturing life-like motion performances. Despite a several minute reel, we know absolutely shit about this title besides the fact it has a supernatural bent (in contrast to the dreary realism of Heavy Rain) and that Hollywood cutie Ellen Page is the game’s lead (explaining why Ellie quietly underwent cosmetic changes in The Last of Us, Sony’s other beaut).
- Of course Sony didn’t miss an opportunity to put PlayStation All-Stars in the ring. The live demonstration went a long way for me personally after I learned Battle Royale shuns the last-man-standing bouts of Super Smash Bros. in favor of tallying in-match “kills." Interestingly, the game’s director pointed out that while supers look nifty to perform, unleashing them means little if you don’t rake in several kills in one meter. Hearing about the mechanics and tactics behind this sensory overload push me towards it more and more. Sony went on to confirm cross-play between the PS3 and Vita versions of the game as well as – and I can’t wait to say it once more – transfarring (thanks, Hideo, for giving the future words). Oh, and you wanted character reveals? Welly, here’s two: Nathan Drake and the Big Daddy from Bioshock.
- Assassins got some exclusive love with the official reveal of the PS Vita’s Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation starring the series’ first female protagonist. A complimentary narrative to ACIII, you control Aveline (above) in a quest to put a blade in Templar throats roaming the streets of mid-1700’s New Orleans. Jumping from rooftops and mild dubstep ensued. A Vita bundle featuring a crystal white system, a 4GB memory stick, and the game itself was shown (sans a price). Everything that says Assassin’s Creed III on it arrives October 30th. (For the sake of brevity, I’ll quickly mention the main ACIII was demoed, showing us naval warfare that blew my head. Revelations’ tower defense game will forever live in shame now.)
- The PlayStation Suite – Sony’s bid to get their games on your phone – returned, rebranded PlayStation Mobile (I don’t get it). HTC will be the first to provide Sony’s mobile efforts with future partnerships with other service providers to follow. I find Sony’s attempt to control my phone much less invasive than Microsoft’s SentientGlass takeover. After all, Sony’s focusing on the only thing gamers truly give a shit about: the games.
- Naughty Dog came to E3 with The Last of Us. In response, we came. Uncharted’s DNA can definitely be seen coursing through the game, but where it divides in vision from that effort, it fucking conquers. On display was a teeth-clenching firefight between Joel, Ellie, and a room full of weathered scavengers. The results were brutal, realistic, and, given appearances, infinitely playable. A shining moment that had the crowd audibly cheering was when Ellie hurled a brick into a bandit’s cranium, rescuing an ammo-less Joel at a crucial moment and giving him all the chance he needed to turn the fight. Why the cheers? The moment seemed to have been unscripted – at which point we need to bow to Naughty Dog’s AI coding.
- Surely God of War: Ascension was mistakenly lumped in this category? Live gameplay of Ascension’s single-player campaign must’ve been a glowing highlight of Sony’s conference?! Technically, but in name only from my point of view, compadre. The gameplay at hand showed off a very by-the-numbers segment with no context given behind what Kratos was up to and where these prequelized exploits fit in to the established mythos. It came off as rather dull presentation for an excitingly ambitious game. No, siree, I wanted to see the real reason Ascension is on my radar – hack n’ slash multiplayer. Until we see more of that, showing me the familiar dials down my excitement.
- Inversely, Far Cry 3’s uniquely caustic single-player draws the eye while the Sony conference’s four-player co-op debut demo for the game just looked like a confused mess of gunfire and running.
- 60 Vita titles are headed to the handheld this Summer! Two were announced, only one was shown. Call of Duty Vita (now subtitled Black Ops: Declassified) is said to revolutionize the portable FPS…and you’re just going to have to take their word for it, goddamnit.
- In one of the most yawn inducing proof-of-concept’s I’ve ever had the chance to almost fall asleep to, Sony exhibited the Wonderbook, a new book-shaped peripheral that utilizes AR technology through your PlayStation Eye and Move accessories. The lightbulb behind this one is that your kids are able to interact, and even change, stories told through games developed specifically for the device. One such game is the J.K. Rowling collaborated Book of Spells, which derives from her Harry Potter series of novels. While the idea is enchanting – waving your remote around like a wand is why motion controllers were invented – the magic soon evaporated during the glitchy, partially functioning demo that convinced me I’d have just as much fun with a phonebook. I’m told motion controllers and AR technology are here to stay, but watching Wonderbook in action makes the pairing look as if it’s going the way of the Virtual Boy.