Tuesday, June 7, 2011

E3 Day 1 - Sony: Apologia et Vita (or Something Like That)

Sony's press conference was exactly how I thought it would be in terms of tone, but that's a good thing. No Kevin Butler this year to joke it up with the crowd. a lot of announcements, a lot of exclusives, a re-naming of the NGP and even more solid-looking games for the new handheld. Jack Tretton was almost sheepish in laying out Sony's apology to gamers and publishers who've been suffering with all this hacking nonsense since April. But after the frowny times for a minute or two, things got rolling with plenty of first-party power.

Absolutely gorgeous Uncharted 3 and Resistance 3 live demos wowed the crowd, Infamous 2 didn't need to be shown at the event as it's in stores NOW (go buy it). Twisted Metal (which I caught a live demo of a day earlier) is visually mind-blowing, period and should do fantastically with fans while raking in new players with its intricate car combat. Move stuff was a focus here that while not as heavy-handed as Microsoft's Kinect-fest yesterday, showed that Sony isn't abandoning the peripheral any time soon. Medieval Moves: Deadmund's Quest was fast paced, intuitive and cool, but no Sorcery at the event made me a bit annoyed (I liked the look of it a lot better). Still, the 1:1 responsiveness and cute art style in Deadmund's Quest should help it do well.

Speaking of Move, Resistance 3 is getting a cool SharpShooter bundle with a complete Move setup and a copy of Insomniac's FPS for a mere $149.99. Sony also lowered the entry bar into 3D gaming with a cool 24" monitor and a new lower-priced pair of 3D glasses. Of course, that pair got the bundle treatment as well, with a copy of (what else) Resistance 3, all for $499.99. While I can't afford either of those deals at the moment, both price points are supremely attractive and I expect many gamers looking to enter both the HD and 3D experience will be drawn to these bundles.

A few surprises for the online crowd came in the form of Dust 514, a PS3 exclusive FPS linked to the popular MMO EVE Online and Starhawk, an amazing third-person action/RTS from the makers of Warhawk. Both games look incredible and both should keep gamers glued to the tube for ages.. provided PSN isn't hit again. That was the 800 pound gorilla lurking in the room that I hope would have been addressed more at the event, but Sony doesn't want to tickle the noses of the naughty ones making trouble. I say send Sweet Tooth after them and let whatever happens happens.

In more likable bad guy news, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time was announced with a nice teaser, but Sucker Punch's name wasn't seen at all in the trailer (unless I blinked and missed it). I'll have to see who's making this new installment, but I'm hoping whoever gets the gig can do it up tight as a button. Star Trek got a quick teaser based on an alpha build and was revealed as a co-op centered action shooter with a bit of shuttlecraft flight in one section. Early, but nice-looking. While Sony has more key first-party exclusives than Microsoft and Nintendo, they also managed to leverage some nice PS3-only content for cross-platform releases. Bioshock Infinite gets the original on the Blu-Ray disc, Saint's Row The Third will have some PS3-only content and some of EA biggest upcoming releases such as SSX, Battlefield 3 and Need for Speed: The Run will all feature PS3-only content.

HD versions of classic PS2 games were hits, and those will keep coming. The big one for this year is of course, ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection, remastered and with 3D support. Konami is bringing its PS2 Metal Gear Solid games, both Zone of the Enders and at least two Silent Hill games out as HD versions, all of which I plan to grab even though I own all the originals. Not to be left out of the HD remix party, both God of War PSP titles are hitting Blu-Ray as God of War Origins, but I think Sony should consider a dual disc pack with God of War III as a budget-priced bonus (and a little incentive for those who have yet to be crushed by Kratos' charms).

Oh yes, the formerly known as NGP got its new name: PlayStation Vita and was definitely the hit of the press conference. While no firm release date was set, the unit will launch in two SKUs. $249.99 for a Wi-Fi enabled model and $299.99 for a 3G model. Unfortunately, AT & T is the EXCLUSIVE carrier, so if you hate that part, you'll have to suck it up and maybe think of only using your Vita as a gaming system (ha ha).
As for the Vita's features, well, it's certainly extremely impressive, that's for damn sure. Dual analogs, front and rear cameras, front and back touch screens and so forth and so on. There's little doubt that Sony is losing a LOT of money on the hardware at the price point they've chosen to go with. However, this might help move a few units to the skeptics or naysayers once they see how well it all works.

As far as games, over 80 are currently in development, but the ones shown weren't the rushed out crappy launch-ware we're tired of seeing. Uncharted: Golden Abyss was amazing with either touch or dual analog controls. ModNation Racers showed off a SUPER easy to use and fast track edit function that looked like a dream to tinker with. The reality of the current roster of millions of PS3 and PSP ModNation user tracks that can be used with the all new Vita version makes this one a must-buy when it's launched.

As for other titles, Capcom is making a version of Street Figher X Tekken for the unit that will feature Cole from Infamous as a playable character (the quick demo shown was lightning fast and fluid), and it seems I was wrong about Sony not thinking about cross-platform play. The action RPG Ruin can be played on Vita, paused, saved and transferred to a PS3 where you can resume right where you left off. Ruin is an isometric view hack and slash (one of my favorite sub-genres), so I'll be needing to see more of that gem soon. There's a LOT more Vita stuff to babble about, but I'm going to shut up here and rest my bones for the next day's ton of games. I'll update with some videos and such over the weekend and into next week.

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