Sony at E3 - Our Future Is So Bright...
We Promise to Have Games
Sony's 90 minute press conference was full of talk about their technology. They bragged about crushing HD DVD and they had many testimonials about how much more powerful the PS3 is compared to the competition. But the real question is - what's in store for PS3 owners?
Are there some? Yes. But most of what we heard had to do with promises of hardware superiority and 10 year life cycles. While we're all for providing games for older systems during an overlap to a new console, at some point you wonder if Sony is just putting out games for the PS2 to keep their numbers high. Most manufacturers stop making games for their older systems as incentive for people to upgrade. Sure, the Hulk game probably still came out for the Commodore 64, but that doesn't mean it is still a viable console.
The big star of the show was Resistance 2. They led off with it and it looks amazing (in an "oh my God, it's full of stars" sort of way. The player was being chased through a city by a huge 300 foot tall monster. The only way to hurt it (it seemed) was to wait for it to pick you up at certain moments and then shoot it in the mouth before it eats you. It would then throw you away which you somehow miraculously seemed to survive. This looked very cool if a bit unbelievable. Sony also announced a version of Resistance for the PSP called Retribution due out in Spring 2009. That should make overseas flights a bit more interesting.
Little Big Planet is probably the most gorgeous and intriguing game we've seen in a long while. It has a cool 2D/3D balance with absolutely lovable characters. The fact that you can co-op play it with your friends and build and share levels is really only icing on the cake. As games go, this one has about as wide an audience as you could ever hope to attract without having to wave your controller at the screen to make it do anything.
Most of the rest of the games were really in either development mode or very far off (i.e. past the holiday season). God of War fans will be thrilled to know that they are working on installment 3, though all they had to show for it was a trailer with no game play. Infamous, where you play a superpowered survivor of a disaster looks to be interesting in a "Force Unleashed" sort of way. The character seems to have telekinesis and/or some sort of electrical powers. The way you play the game will decide if the character is a true hero or an antihero (apparently villain isn't an option).
The most intriguing of the upcoming titles was Jim Lee's DC Universe Online. Interestingly similar to the Xbox 360 Champions Online game also in development (by the same people that brought us City of Heros/Villains), DC Universe Online is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) that features characters out of the DC universe. This means that you'll be able to play alongside Batman, Superman, and others. It looked like the DC characters would all be computer controlled NPCs but would figure strongly in the missions. Being a villain is possible so the game can be played from either side of the line. A little bit of game play was shown but not much. If you've ever read a comic, you probably know that Jim Lee is one of the best artists out there. It will be interesting to see how his input will affect the look of the game. The real winners will be PC users that will have access to both Champions and DC Universe regardless of their console exclusivity.
Lastly, MAG (Massive Action Game) - which sounds to us like a working title probably up for change later on - looked to be the most ambitious game in the pipes. With up to 256 players split up into squads of 8, the online aspects are huge. Details were very thin but it looked to be a war sim that may be first person. Military ranks are provided in order to choose leaders of the squads though it is unclear how the actual teams are chosen. Whether this is an online only game or if it has a story and missions (other than kill everyone on that side of the wall) is also murky. We'll be keeping our eyes on this one.
While Sony's hardware is the most powerful, it is also the most expensive. They have been adverse to dropping their prices but they will be upping what you get for your money. The PS3 will now retail for $399 (as before) but now with an 80GB hard drive. While they were touting all of their exclusive titles, they also mentioned that they will be releasing some "Greatest Hits" for $29.99 including Resistance, MotorStorm, and Warhawk. While not technically a price drop, a new PS2 bundle is on the way with the Lego Batman game and Justice League: New Frontiers DVD for $149. If you are worried about content, Sony promised over 130 games for the PS2 to be released in 2008. Not to leave out their portable platform, the PSP will get a new bundle with Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters
and National Treasures 2: Book of Secrets on UMD
plus extras for $199. They claim that each bundle for the PSP created a spike in sales so look for more of these to coincide with big title releases.
Sony was seriously pushing its Playstation Network. While we've already reported on how they will offer downloads for high definition movies and TV shows, they had quite a few other announcements. Other than games like Buzz! and Ratchet and Clank Future, the PS Network will sport a single login. Much like Xbox Live, this will mean that you can sign in from any computer and send messages to your friends (a heck of lot easier than hunting and pecking with your controller that's for sure).
Sony stressed that while they don't have the greatest number of games on the Playstation Network, their games are quality. This is an obvious jab at Microsoft who was touting the number of games on their network during their press conference.
The most interesting development was that Gran Turismo 5: Prologue will feature GTTV or Gran Turismo TV. Through the PS Network, users will be able to access free and Pay Per View content that is completely auto related. The biggest announcement was that the hugely popular UK show, "Top Gear" would be available as well as other shows from around the world. Whether or not loving a racing game will translate into loving automotive TV shows remains to be seen.
Lastly, Sony mentioned Google in passing with plans to bring real time news and information to users through the Playstation Network. They didn't really elaborate but it does seem like a good fit for the PS3 or really any console that is connected to the Internet. Whether or when this will come about is unclear.
The theme of the Sony press conference seemed to be "we're just getting started." At two years of age and in the back of the pack of the current lineup of consoles, taking a long term "10 year" view is probably a good idea. While Sony is starting to distribute to Latin America which should help their sales figures (at least worldwide), it is by far the slowest start that a Sony console has ever had. Sure, it may be the best technologically speaking and sure it may be the best Blu-ray player on the market, but what is true future of the PS3? Right now, it seems to be full of possibilities. Let's hope they pan out.
This year definitely looks brighter for Sony, and they seemed to have at least admitted they've made some big mistakes. They're still a bit arrogant with Blu-ray, but it's not as bad as past years as they realize gamers don't automatically flock to the Playstation brand.
They still have a lot of work to do though. Playstation network still sucks and games worth playing are still few and far between. Hopefully this year the third party games will run at least as well on the PS3 as they do the 360 (um, EA??).
Little Big Planet looks cool, and i can't wait for God of War 3. And they appear to have a much stronger lineup than last year going into the holiday season. Now if they just dropped to ~$350...
On the other hand, all of the money they continue to make from PS2 at 9 years of age can't be ignored. Do we look at this as financial success, or is it more like the life-jacket that is keeping Sony afloat?
The one game that I think surprised me was Mirror's Edge. I had only seen pictures of it, but that game looks pretty interesting and the graphics were pretty decent. Also, Killzone 2's graphics looked pretty impressive. The one that looks a little disappointing was Prince of Persia. The movements look good, but the "Viewtiful Joe" / "Okami" like look wasn't quite working for me. Resistance 2 looks good and so does RE5. I am still not quite sold on Motorstorm Pacific Rift.
Agreed on all counts. Mirror's Edge looks completely sweet. Hopefully it will be.
I completely missed out on the cell shaded fad so PoP looks interesting to me. Champions and DC are both looking to use a similar technique as well. There isn't a chance I'm NOT going to buy RE5. I haven't played a RE game since 2 and I just LOVED that game.
If you watch both the Sony and MS keynote you see that most of the hyped 360 games out this year are all sequels. I didn't even see one totally new IP in that whole presentation other than the stuff from Square which most Americans don't even care for. Even though PS3 will have some sequels coming out, stuff like Little Big Planet, MAG, and DC online are all new IP's.
You make a good point. There are some new games coming for the Xbox but they didn't make it into the presentation. I'm really interested in Champions Online personally. It is sort of the nature of the beast though. It is hard to get the limelight unless you really have something cool like Little Big Planet. Plus, people are more interested in hearing about sequels so it very well could be that in a year or two the Sony presentation is going to sound remarkably similar.