E3: Sony Press Conference

Closing up the Press Conference festivities yearly is Sony. Going last usually means that they need to raise the bar a little, as there has already been a lot of great stuff shown. Last year, we saw announcements for Resistance 2, a popular PlayStation 3 exclusive alternative-WWII era shooter; LittleBigPlanet, another massive PlayStation 3 exclusive puzzle game; PlayStation Home, a unique virtual world for PlayStation 3 owners; MAG: Massive Action Game, a still upcoming 256 multiplayer war shooter; and many hardware and software announcements, including the PlayStation Video Store. Sony has some work to do this year, so the following is what was announced at the 2009 Sony E3 Press Conference on Tuesday, June 2, 2009.

– Editor’s Note –

Before I begin, I do want to stop and explain something to my viewers. Personally, I only own a PlayStation 3 and a PC. I do have a Nintendo Wii as well, but I rarely play it, and I do not own an Xbox 360. I do not like to call myself a “fanboy” for Sony, as I like to keep an open mind and a level head for all other games, but I will admit, there may be some bias towards the games that were shown at Sony’s Press Conference compared to others over the course of the past few days. Again, I would like to think that I am a neutral party at this moment, as video games have their own unique properties no matter what system they are being played on, but some of these games may seem to have a bit of bias towards them due to my exclusive ownership of a PlayStation 3. I would like to apologize ahead of time for this, and thank you for your understanding.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Naughty Dog
Release Date: Q4 2009

After the rampant success of the first Uncharted game, Naughty Dog comes back for a second iteration of the game, and brings it home once again. The beautiful environments from the first game continue to show in the gameplay demo, although in this case, the demo took place within a city, instead of in the jungle as with the first game. It continues to have a very Prince of Persia feel to it, with having to jump from platforms and climb around buildings to get from place to place. The one noticeable different was that the AI looked to be smarter. Rather than just sitting behind something and shooting, one enemy actually tipped over a table and used that for cover instead. I expect that Uncharted 2 will continue to show itself off when it releases later this year.

Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Zipper Interactive
Release Date: 2009

In a completely unprecedented event, Zipper Interactive brought together 256 people to play an actual working demo of MAG live on stage for this year’s conference. For those who haven’t heard about MAG, it stands for Massive Action Game, and each match contains 256 real live people, playing in squads of 8 with the highest rank player being the squad leader. They showed that squad leaders can use command abilities, and make orders for their squad to follow through with to help win the match at hand. Every move that is done earns the player EXP, and the higher the EXP, the higher rank you are, and the more likely you are to become a squad leader in a match. They have yet to give a date for it’s release, but expect it before the end of this year still. I am thrilled to see what this game has in store closer to it’s launch date, as I have been excited for this game since last year’s E3.

PlayStation Portable Go
Release Date: October 1, 2009

While the PlayStation Portable Go was actually leaked early, Sony joked around about the leak and took it very lightly while on stage, and officially announced the PSP Go. The PSP Go will not replace the current PSP-3000, but will sell along side it. This new piece of hardware will remove the need to use UMDs, and instead have 16GB memory inside of it, as games for this will be downloadable. All new PSP titles will be released both on UMD and digitally so that both PSPs will be able to play every game that comes out. The PSP Go will have built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a slide open design which reveals the controls, and have the ability to connect to the PlayStation Store to download games, and have access to the PlayStation Video Store to download TV shows and movies. In addition to that, Sony announced that they will be changing the old Media Manager into a program called Media Go, which streamlines that way that you can transfer files from your PC to your PSP. This all comes out at the beginning of October this year. This still hasn’t sold me on the portable systems though, but is a step in the right direction.

Gran Turismo PSP
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Release Date: October 1, 2009

Gran Turismo PSP will release simultaneously with the launch of the PlayStation Portable Go on October 1, 2009. On the PSP, it will run at 60 frames per second and use the fullest extent of the hardware built-in to the PSP. It will contain 800 cars, 35 tracks and 60 layout variations of those tracks, keeping it on par with console versions of Gran Turismo. It will also allow connection to your friend’s PSPs so that you will be able to trade cars in order to further your collection. They showed a quick trailer for it, and it looks just like a Gran Turismo game.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Kojima Productions
Release Date: 2010

I must admit, I was kind of surprised and disappointed when I found out that the final announcement that the teaser site was supposed to make was for another PlayStation Portable version of the Metal Gear franchise. The teaser site showed Big Boss because this takes place ten years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 3, in Latin America. Really, there are no words for what was shown; it was a Kojima-brand trailer, and is worth watching without a doubt. Hideo Kojima announced that he was writing and producing the game himself, with the help of the Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots team, so I expect to see good things from this game, although I personally won’t be playing it.

Assassin’s Creed 2
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: November 17, 2009

After an impressive brand new trailer was shown last night at the Ubisoft Press Conference, Ubisoft continues to impress by showing off actual gameplay footage for Assassin’s Creed at Sony’s Conference. This game takes place right after the first one, but this time you play as Ezio during the Italian Renaissance period. During the demo, they explained that you will encounter people such as Leonardo Di Vinci, who will give you more enhanced weapons and utilities to use throughout the game. Some of these utilities that were shown off during the demo were a flying machine, which allows you to glide around the city in the air, and a smoke bomb, which allows you to make an easier getaway when you are surrounded. This game continues to have wonderful visuals, but this time in an Italian setting. As they promised, there will be more assassination techniques and ways of combat that the first game was lacking. After the first game, I was happy, yet disappointed with how repetitive the game was, and this game should prove to be everything that the first one should have been, and more.

Final Fantasy XIII
Publisher/Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: 2010

Once again, Square Enix impressed the crowd by showing yet another new trailer for Final Fantasy XIII, this time a longer one, and once again with English voice acting and localized menus during the battle scene. While there still isn’t much to say, other than I feel that most of the voices that they chose for the English actors were a good fit, there still wasn’t much to explain about the game itself from this. The trailer was, once again, stunningly beautiful, and worthy of carrying the Final Fantasy name.

Final Fantasy XIV
Publisher/Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: TBA

Yes, you read that right, FINAL FANTASY XIV was announced, exclusively for the PlayStation 3. Even though Final Fantasy XIII isn’t even on the shelves yet, Square Enix has already begun working on Final Fantasy XIV, as they showed off a brand new trailer for it. While this does not mean that production may have even begun on the game yet, they have at least begun the planning stages, and came up with a cinematic trailer to show off what they have so far. Oh, and there’s one more thing to note: it’s ONLINE. This has put me extremely on the edge about this game, as Final Fantasy XI was, in many cases, a flop, and only appealed to a very specific audience. The trailer that they showed was beautiful, no less, but I still wonder if they can pull off coming up with a great game based off of what we’ve seen so far.

PlayStation Motion Controller

The 2009 E3 Buzzword is: “interface”. Not to be outdone by neither Microsoft nor Nintendo, Sony also showed off a new way to play this year. Unlike Microsoft, which used the camera and just your body to be able to track your movements, and Nintendo, which came out with an add-on accessory for their current controller, Sony use a new type of controller, one that was shaped like a small stick with a ball on the end which lit up. Using this and the PlayStation Eye, they were able to demonstrate how the program could actually track your movements clearly and fluidly. They also showed off how you could hold various objects in your hand and use them in the room, such as a gun, sword, whip, flashlight and more. Unlike the other demonstrations, there was sound included with each action made, and the tracking time worked very quickly and efficiently. They also showed off one of the features that I think would be best used, as they had a tabletop with tanks on it, and the demonstrator circled a group of them and moved the wand to tell them where to move to, and then told them to attack. After seeing the trailer for Ruse yesterday, this actually seems much more possible using a controller such as this. I was thoroughly impressed, although I’m still not sure if a new interface is really what we need to play with right now. They announced that this will be available in Spring 2010.

ModNation Racers
Information Unavailable

This game was thought up of after the catch phrase “Play, Create, Share” was coined by LittleBigPlanet. Taking that into account, ModNation Racers was born, which allows you to create everything, from the racer themselves, to the cars that you drive in, down to the tracks that you ride on. It runs on a very casual pace, and has a very Mario Kart look and feel to it, so that anyone can pick it up and play it. The graphics, while cartoon-like, are actually very good for what it’s made for. The environment around you is also very interactive, so everything that you drive by can be either used or used against you. On stage, the demonstrator created a track in no more than five minutes, and while it wasn’t massive, it had enough detail around it to show how easy it was to make something. I actually found this to be quite entertaining, and I’m waiting to hear more information on when it’s going to be released.

The Last Guardian
Publisher: SCEI
Developer: Japan Studio
Release Date: TBA

Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say about this game at this moment, as they only showed a cinematic trailer, but it’s created by the developer who made games such as Shadow of the Colossus. The trailer that it showed had a very similar graphic style to Shadow of the Colossus actually, which was a very beautiful game from the very beginning as well. Unfortunately, all that I can tell from the trailer is that you possibly play as a boy who has a chimera as a guardian, but other than that, the other objectives or story from the game is unknown at the moment. This game looks to be very beautiful, so I’m still interested to see what happens in the future, but with so little information about it, there isn’t much to think about yet.

Gran Turismo 5
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Release Date: 2009

They continued to show just some simple cinematic trailers with Gran Turismo 5 as well, but if you’ve ever seen anything from Gran Turismo, you know how beautiful the game is. Unfortunately there isn’t any numbers of cars, tracks or even a release date, although it’s still assumed that the game is coming out before the end of 2009. For types of cars though, they showed off rally cars, tuners, exotics and a brand new group of cars, NASCAR. Gran Turismo games have had a few NASCAR tracks available for racing on with their own collection of cars, but never before have they actually had a full 43-car field of actual stock cars racing on the track. I’m very interested to see how well the physics are for this, as it could give the current NASCAR games a run for their money, although I highly doubt that there will be any real season mode included.

God of War III
Publisher/Developer: SCEA
Release Date: March 2010

If you’ve played the previous God of War games, you know to expect something big, and in terms of scale, God of War III continues to follow through with that. Huge environments were present during the live demo that was played during the Conference today. The graphics continue to be beautiful on the PlayStation 3’s first taste of God of War, and that extends to the enemies and player character models as well. New battle mechanics, weapons, and even puzzles that use the enemies themselves to be able to solve litter the game. One thing to remember though, this game is rated M, and with good reason, because the signature finishes that the God of War franchise is used to are bloodier than ever before. I’ll admit, this game isn’t necessarily my type of game, but overall, the game still looks gorgeous in it’s own right.

– Overall Impressions –

Sony succeeded in finishing off the rounds of Press Conferences with a very strong performance earlier today. Out of all of the publishers, I felt that it was Sony that showed off the most games in the more prevalent ways to game players. I also felt that out of all of the new “interfaces” that were announced throughout the past two days, Sony’s seemed to work the best, and seemed to have the most amount of uses compared to any of the others. There are a lot of games that have been announced or shown off in the past two days, and it’s amazing to think how many great games that are coming out in the next twelve months. As a PlayStation 3 owner, I am happy to say that I will be kept very happy over the next year with a varied collection of games that will keep me very busy.

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