Man, Sony took their sweet time at their presentation, didn't they? Two full hours! However. I am not complaining. How could I? Sony definitely did their homework for this year, as compared to the last. Of course am sure many were also left wanting, but hey. You can't please everybody. And although they did get a major bulk of their announcements preemptively leaked, they still did have that shocker that got the nods of most of the attendees, if not all.
Okay, to have at least a semblance of organization here, I will be laying out this recap article in three parts: first would be the items for the PS3, and then the ones for the PSP, and last but not least, their new programs announced . It's gonna be quite a ride, but I assure you it is worth it.
Again, just in case some of you mistake this as the actual coverage, see title, please: Post-Game Report. This entails that apart from recapping the presentation, we will be grading them as well. For the actual coverage of the Sony Press Conference of E3 2009, check this link out.
Here we go.
Jack Tretton walks up to the stage, looking very friendly in a smart casual suit. He opens with the line "Thank God you guys showed up." He was referring to how there wasn't really much of their "surprise announcements" left, thanks to this industry's ability - or lack thereof - to keep secrets.
Suddenly, flashbacks of the million rumors that circulated the Web in the days running up to the E3 2009 event prodded me in the back of my head. If it is true that the rumored leaks left practically nothing for them to announce as a surprise anymore, it follows that those rumored leaks are all very, very true.
So what is left to surprise us with? Was their "more shockers at E3" announcement merely a rhetoric to keep the hype up for their presentation? Could there really be more? But that is to be answered later on.
And then he went on to acknowledge the important people sitting way up in the balcony. But although those people he mentioned are very VIP people, the most pressure comes from trying to do justice to all 364 games that are coming out to the PlayStation platforms this year alone, so he said.
We found Jack to be a very amiable host, garnering laughs and cheers. But more importantly, he looked and sounded so pleasing during the presentation, it's like we're compelled to just believe in everything he has to say wholeheartedly.
But we'll see about that.
1) Uncharted 2: Among Thieves:
The Naughty Dog team brought along with them a single-player gameplay demo, which perfectly showed how well the development is going for the sequel to Nathan Drake's adventures. The graphics looked solid, and people were obviously impressed as the demo was met with thundering applause.
Announcing that the multiplayer beta goes live tonight was going live last night sure as heck didn't hurt either.
From the start, Naughty Dog has promised that their Uncharted games will make Sony proud, and gamers satisfied. With this new sequel, I do tip off my hats to them. With its release later this year, PS3 sure is to have an edge.
Nothing shocking here, and new per se, but it was good, nonetheless, to have a carrier title open up the show with a bang.
Meanwhile, the Zipper Team came on stage to show just how massive their PS3-exclusive title, MAG, will actually be. And it really can be described by no other adjective. They promised 256 players all at one game, 256 players they did show. A release window of Fall this year was announced.
It's quite intimidating to see that many faces looking down on you from the E3 stage screen all at one time, and knowing full well that they are all out to shoot at each other. It was intriguing, nonetheless, particularly as to how they will take care of the lag time. There was an odd moment in the demo too when there was no one on the game screen. For what it's worth, thank goodness the respawn time is immediate. We were kidding around here that if you die in the battle, you'll have to wait for the whole game to finish before you can join in again.
From Rockstar North, Agent will be exclusive to the PlayStation 3. It features an agent going across the "shadowy world of espionage and assassins". The setting is in the 1970s. No other details given out.
It was merely mentioned in passing, but given that it's from Rockstar, it would be safe to expect a GTA feel to it.
4) Assassin's Creed 2
Ubisoft also brought along with them a gameplay demo, one which wasn't shown at either the Ubisoft presentation or at Microsoft's. The demo showed rich environments and graphics, and gave out some more information about this sequel's diversity.
We already know that it begins where part 1 ended and that it is set in Italian Renaissance. Additional information reveal more about character progression, in particular, that Ezio (pronounced as Eh-tsiow) was not an assassin straight from the beginning. Rather, he only turned into one later on with the help of his friends, one of which is the master himself, Leonardo Da Vinci. Ezio takes control of Leonardo's inventions such as the flying machine, and cruises above the city.
As for the weapons, it was said that there are more than 30 different weapons for you to use in the game, plus six more that you can unlock by playing the PSP game and then connecting it on the PS3.
The new footage was a definite plus, and there's no doubt in mind why Sony hails this as one of its AAA titles. But it's still not the shocker we're waiting for.
5) Final Fantasy
Square Enix came out with a new video for Final Fantasy XIII, which only upped the anticipation further for the game. But right on its heels is the thunder-stealer, Final Fantasy XIV. (Conveniently?) Taken out of its introduction is the operative term "Online".
Yep, it'll be an online release, and they're making room for it in 2010. Exclusive for the PS3.
We had to do a double-take when this was announced. After all, Final Fantasy XIII is yet to be released, much less to have a definitive release date. And yet here they were, pronouncing a next Final Fantasy title, and with a release window set for next year to boot! Then again, if it is an online iteration, although it could be a standalone title, it is possible that they can finish this that quick, especially since this is gonna be only for the PS3.
This one's from United Front Games, and is also known as the "Play Create Share" racing game. The demo video was exhaustive, showing the audience how to customize racers and create their own tracks.
Can also tweak animals, houses, even the sun's location. Track upload and download options also available.
Announced for a 2010 release.
It was a very comprehensive demo, with the presentors apparently enjoying it, that they soon realized their time was up and the had to finish the track in a few minutes. The Track Editor admittedly looks really, really good. Impressive.
7) The Last Guardian
Yep, it was the game video that was leaked last week, only not in its entirety. The LBP teaser also finally made sense. A lot of running and jumping around with the little boy, as well as his humongous flying pet. Dramatic soundtrack.
Really, really beautiful graphics. Could have not expected anything less from the team who brought us Shadows of Colossus. Is sure to make non-PS3 believers into one.
8) Gran Turismo 5
The first look at the game in action. Also seen in the video is the new damage modeling.
Cars are looking good, but I wish they'd set out a release window at least. Game still at a very vague TBA date.
9) God of War III
Stig Asmussen walks up the stage to present the live demo of God of War III. He calls it the "final game in the series". They promised gut-ripping visuals, and they did deliver. New grappling system also shown, with Kratos grappling a harpy and using it as leverage to swing himself from one platform to the next. QuickTime Kill also shown.
It is, simply, looking good. More new information.
10) Other games announced
- Holiday offerings: LBP, MotorStorm: Arctic Edge, SOCOM, Monster Hunter, Hannah Montana, Harry Potter
- Lost Planet 2 also confirmed for the PS3, 2010 release
- PSN: Final Fantasy VII coming out on the PSN TODAYyesterday
- DLC: Infamous, Buzz, SOCOM all coming Home
The first thing that Jack uttered as a manner of introduction for their PSP offerings was that there will be more games and TV content delivered for the handheld, with special mention of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. And then he went on to introduce Kazuo Hirai to the stage.
Is it time to Go?
1) PSP Go
Taking the stage, Kaz Hirai addressed the crowd and smoothly took out from his pocket the redesigned PSP handheld that caused much stir the past week. The PSP Go, he said is their "worst-kept secret" (we're looking at you, Dave Perry). He gave a quick rundown of the features of the said handheld, and stressed on the fact that it will NOT replace the 3000, nor will it replace the UMD.
The PSP Go, he said:
- is specifically designed for the digital lifestyle
- will carry a price tag of US 249 (US), 249 (Europe), and 28,600 (Japan)
- will come out in US and Europe on October 1, and for Japan in November 1, 2009
- carries built-in WiFi
- M2 for even more memories
- plus the slide-out controls
A hands-on demo was then made available on their booths as well.
This one didn't really come out as a surprise anymore, given the QORE leak that occurred last weekend, but it was nonetheless co****ting and relieving to see it being officially acknowledged by a Sony bigwig. At least their "No Comment" catchphrase took the backseat for a while there.
Of course, not everyone is expected to go all gung-ho over this new design, but it does appear that with the presentation of Kaz, it did make other people reconsider their stand regarding the new look of the PSP. As to whether or not it will deliver in functionality is yet to be seen, but we won't have to wait too long before we can find out about that.
2) Gran Turismo PSP
Polyphony Digital's big man, Kazunouri Yamauchi, then took to the stage, along with his translator, to begin the presentation on Gran Turismo. As was expected, Yamauchi-san took the time to show off their PSP Go launch offering, Gran Turismo PSP.
Accompanied with a video presentation, he gave us the following specs for the game
- full scale running at 60 FPS
- 800 cars
- 35 tracks
- Single player mode: races, time challenges, drift challenges, licensing mode
- Ad-hoc mode to race with four players
- GT PSP Go video
Having a GT game on the PSP is really good news. Heck, having a new GT game is always good news. And I think it would go well with the PSP Go as a launch title. However, I cannot help but feel dejavu'd about it somewhat. Weren't Gran Turismo 5 supposed to be a launch title as well for the PS3? We're halfway in 2009 now, and we've yet to hear an official release date for it. Just saying.
Also, the video trailer wasn't so much as a teaser for Gran Turismo PSP per se, as it was promotional video for the PSP Go, with the "special participation" of the GT PSP cars. It was cool and all, but I wish we saw something more GT-centric at that point. Here's to hoping we'll see more of the game soon.
3) Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
The man with two Lifetime Achievement Awards in this single lifetime goes up the stage, much to the excitement of the crowd. Hideo Kojima has always been a crowd-pleaser, and that's what he set out to do at the presentation yesterday.
Without further ado, he went on to announce that Snake is coming back to the PSP via the new title, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Basic information on the game tells us the following:
- set 10 years after MGS3 (1970s)
- a "real sequel" to the MGS franchise
- main MGS4 team will be participating in the game development
- this stars Snake once more
The trailer had a dramatic "Monstrous foes incapable of feeling pain!" tagline, and showed Snake in various actions, such as zipping through lines, hanging from under bridges, having for of them attack enemies -- four of them? Yes, this story apparently touches on the Snake clone angle, although no further explanation was given by Kojima about this bit.
Again, any Metal Gear title is a welcomed addition to the gaming world. It should be interesting to see how this story pans out. The cardbox box at the end of the trailer was also a nice, sentimental touch. All in all, it was a beautiful trailer.
Curiously enough, Kojima made no mention at all of the MGS title announced at the Microsoft conference the day before, Metal Gear Solid: Rising. There was, however, no word made on Rising being exclusive to the Xbox 360, and was in fact announced later on in presswires that it's also coming out for the PS3 and the PC. Maybe Kojima and Sony wanted to focus only on the titles that were exclusive to them at that point?
4) Resident Evil PSP
There was no presentation video for it, but Jack did say that the RE PSP game will have a whole new game design, specifically made for the PSP platform. He also mentioned that it will be slated for a 2010 release.
Not much to work on here given the very sparse information.
This deserves a section of its own simple because it holds the "shocker" that fans all over have been waiting for. New services were announced for both the PS3 and the PSP, but one of them will stand out from the rest.
1) Media Go
Media Go is made specifically for the PS Store on PC and is meant to replace the current Media Manager. Essentially, it will be taking care of content transfer, and promises to hold a much more intuitive surface.
It is simply described as a new music app for the PSP.
3) PSP Tool Kits price cut
This one carries with it some great news. Sony is cutting a HUGE chunk off its price tag - 80 off to be exact - for the PSP Tool Kits (take note of the emphasis, lest you misread it for a PSP price cut).
According to Sony, this is certainly a great way to encourage more developers to develop their softwares on the handheld.
They also made mention of an upcoming video delivery service, but did not give out any particulars apart from the announcement of the product.
4) PS3 Motion Controller
Now THIS is the big shocker that people did not expect. Okay, the PS3 Motion Controller presented by Dr. Richard Marks and Anthony Mikahailov was just in its prototype stage (stress on "engineering protoype"). Therefore, it is in no way the final look as it may still change. If you did not see the prototype, it looked like a bulkier Wiimote from afar, or a shift stick, if you will.
But again, this is just the prototype, and after seeing what it can actually do, shift stick image or not, it certainly did not matter.
The demo showed the Motion Controller (there are two separate wands actually), a seemingly evolved version of the Waggle controller whose patent surfaced last year, working with the PlayStation Eyes, and that it nicely puts you in a virtual world where you can hold anything in your hand. It is also described as being the "foundation of the ultimate sandbox", allowing the user to utilize the controller not only for games but for creation as well, via the Pencil Tools, Spray Paint Tools, etc. Not only that, the Drawing Tools can also be used to lay out a path of objects.
They said it's gonna be ready for launch by Spring of next year.
The PS3 Motion Controller was very, very impressive, despite being just in its prototype stage. The team apparently did their homework and really prepared for their presentation. The most impressive thing about it (for us) was the accuracy of the thing, especially with the handwriting and paint sloshing demo (hold your accuracy vs. Natal technology demo debate, guys).
Dabbling into graphics works ourselves, the one-to-one accuracy of the presentation had us all floored and oooh-ing and ahhh-ing in our seats. Admit it, after the Wii Motion Plus presentation of Nintendo, and Microsoft's controller-less Natal technology the day before, you'd think Sony would be hard-pressed to come up with something that could be at par.
In that aspect, they did not fail.
Being the last of the press conferences among the big three, I wouldn't say that E3 necessarily saved the best for last, but I do admit that Sony did a pretty good job at this year's event. As I said in the introduction, theirs was really jampacked, and considering that it already took them two hours to put out everything, it seemed that somehow those two hours still weren't enough.
There were some portions that felt kinda rushed, and some games that weren't given more attention as we would have liked, ie. Gran Turismo PSP. And although there were a lot of rumored leaks which threatened to leave Sony with no more surprises for E3, there were still a couple more that they did not acknowledge at all.
First, they did not say anything at all about the PS3 price cut, despite the many speculations that there will be something said about the matter at E3. Second, they did not address as well the PS3 Slim issue. The only other explanation for this silence is that the leak was actually a fake, and so the possibility that it was a bootleg version of the PS3 by the Chinese company is given more credence.
It was also baffling how come other big-hitting titles like Heavy Rain did not make it onstage, as well as the much-awaited Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time. We did see something, but for the most part, it was in video montages only.
We do appreciate, however, the comprehensive demos that they did, as in ModNation and the PS3 Motion Controller. We felt that this was really the clincher because since it's the technology that you're trying to sell, it is but right that you showcase just exactly what it can do in front of a live audience.
Plus points for Jack Tretton's closing statement of "I hope you agree, this is gonna be one of the biggest years in PlayStation history. Other companies ask you to imagine the future of gaming, and it's our pleasure to show you the future of gaming."
I would have to point out, however, that while Sony is hammering the notion that this will be the year of the PS3 and the PSP, most of the goods they announced that day were slated for a 2010 release.
Announcements that made us sit up and listen extra hard would be:
- Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
- Final Fantasy XIV
- The Last Guardian
- God of War III
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
- PS3 Motion Controller
The boys here were saying that Sony didn't really have much new things brought to table with them in their E3 2009 Press Conference. However I argued that I don't think we should penalize them as heavily because of that since their supposed surprises were leaked before the event, which is (or at least should be) not by their own fault.
And so with much deliberation and haggling, we have settled the score:
4 out of a possible 5 shining cardboard boxes.