In: Articles by Edie Sellers7 Jun 2011
I missed the first 45 minutes of the Sony press conference. This was not entirely my fault. What was supposed to be a 25-minute drive from my hotel in Hollywood to the Los Angeles Sports Arena — for which I allotted myself 45 minutes so I could settle in and start the liveblog — turned into an hour and a half Bataan Death March on surface streets.
So, much of what happened at the beginning of the show I took from second-hand accounts. And general opinion from my fellow indy podcasters and writers said that Jack Tretton’s mea culpa for Playstation Network’s month-long outtage was the right tone and enough. Pretty much, it was sorry, sorry, I’m sorry, we’re sorry, Sony’s sorry, Japan is sorry, we are so, so very, very sorry.
This is pretty unusual for Sony. It may be corporate culture. It may be Japanese culture. But when they fall on their sword, they fall all the way to the hilt. And good for them. It was enough. They were contrite, they were humble, and they needed to be.
Once that elephant was sent out of the room, the real information could begin. Sony led off with announcing a new content partner, Cinema Now. Honestly, I’ve not used Cinema Now, so it means nothing to me. Nor have I heard of anyone who uses it. So it means very little.
Then Tretton hit hard and hit big. Straight he went to Uncharted 3 and Naughty Dog. Good choice. If anything can get you off the network outtage, it will be Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, out on November 11.
Our man Nathan Drake finds himself on deck of a wrecked cruise liner not unlike the Titanic. And he sneaks around accosting baddies from behind until he finds the ship is now sinking and he has to fight his way out. Bottom line: It’s Uncharted. Still cinematically perfect and seamless. Still full of near-death action. More of the same is still better than any other game out there. Yes, Mass Effect fans: I said any other game.
What is new is the multiplayer launching on June 28. And you will have access to the full game by going to Subway. What we have to do wasn’t clear. Hopefully not eat one of those sandwiches.
Also new, it will be in 3D. I appreciate that Sony is invested in 3D and wants us to buy new TVs, but let’s be clear: That’s not going to happen this year and likely for most people not in the Playstation 3′s lifetime. So please, stop shoving 3D down our throats.
Next came Insomniac Games, which showed off Resistance 3. Again, a big, fat 3D-fest. In the rain. And it is beautiful. But this is one for Sony hardcores. It offered nothing to those of us who’ve never played Resistance. This is not, and probably was never meant to be, an entry game. It’s speaking to core fans, and for them it’s a treat.
That treat will include a Resistance 3 Sharpshooter Bundle available on September 6, which will bundle the game with a sharpshooter, a Move motion controller, a move navigation controller, and a Sony Eye camera for $150. That’s not a bad reason to get into the Move thing if you’re into Move and you like Resistance. If not, that’s a lot to spend.
As almost a side note, Tretton then offered up two collections of remastered games for 3D: God of War Origins, which bundles Chains of Olympus and Ghosts of Sparta; and a second collection with Shadow of the Collosus and Ico.
Not letting the 3D thing go, Tretton then announced two new 3D hardware products for this fall: A new Playstation 3D display and new active 3D glasses, both of which he says are affordable. The display, which looks like a stylized computer monitor, is a 24-inch display that has the added feature of allowing two people to look at it and see two different images, for competative or co-op multiplayer without splitscreen.
This is problematic in my mind. But let me continue to show how problematic.
A pair of these less expensive glasses will be bundled with the monitor, along with a six-foot HDMI cable and a copy of Resistance 3. The cost of this bundle: $499.
Here’s the problem: If you want to use this multiplayer feature, you need two pair of glasses. I’m not saying this isn’t a good deal. It certainly is. But don’t let the under-$500 price fool you. If you want to enjoy it fully, figure at least another $70 for that second pair.
Then Tretton finally brought in the Move. It stood as a statement of Sony’s confidence that, unlike Microsoft, the entire presser wasn’t about motion control.
The features of the Move were introduced with NBA 2K12. It was really hard to tell, but it seemed confusing and slightly jankey. Even with Kobe Bryant demoing it.
A new title then introduced was Midieval Moves: Desmond’s Quest for fall this year. And, surprise! It’s in 3D! It uses throwing stars, bow and arrow, and sword and shield. Quite honestly, while it did look great in 3D (I will now weaken! Viva la 3D-sistance!) it just didn’t really seem more like a little kid game. It only lacked Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Infamous 2 was next up, and I will fully admit: I didn’t play the first Infamous. It was loud and explody. And again, for the fans of the series with nothing that might bring me in. Sure there’s going to be unique user-generated content using the Move to create online missions for Infamous 2 now, as well as Little Big Planet 2 this September, but I just don’t see these games selling the Move or the Move selling these games. Sure, if you’ve got a Move, it’s pretty damned awesome. But let’s be clear: There’s not enough Moves out there. Something has to start selling them.
Tetton tried to convince me with a new IP, Starhawk. It has mechs. It has vehicles. It has space battle. And that’s all we know. Meh.
And then we have a new Sly Cooper coming in 2012. I’m probably 35 years too old to care. Maybe more.
What did make me sit up and take notice was Dust 514, a persistant shooter for summer 2012 that promises the Holy Grail: Cross-platform gameplay. Exclusive to Playstation and developed by Eve Online developer CCP Studios, it will connect Playstation players and PC players in a persistent online world in a battle for domination. Now this — this — is something I care about. World domination? Nah. It’s persistent cross-platform play. And if they can pull it off, I will officially be Sony’s bitch. However, I also saw lots of promises from Sony that haven’t delivered (ahem, MAG anyone?) so I’m going to remain reservedly excited about this one.
Another reason for concern: The CCP developer who introduced Dust 514 (I’d type the name but he as Icelandic and I don’t want to look up all the special characters needed to spell his name) said it would be out in summer 2012. Tretton said it was a closed beta end of this year and releasing spring 2012. Already there’s a question about it’s release date. Doesn’t engender confidence, does it?
Then came one of the first big surprises: Bishock Infinite on the Playstation 3 will be Move-enabled — as announced by Ken Levine. After his very public savaging of the Move, it was really awkward to see him on stage to do more backpeddling than an Oakland minister on May 22. This was tantamount to Gabe Newell’s appearance at the Sony presser last year. I just have to wonder: How does Sony get its most vociferous antagonists to change their minds? And how do we get some of it so we can focus it on something important — like peace in the Middle East or something?
The biggest offer Sony gave us after that was the inclusion of Battlefield 1943 with Battlefield 3 on the Playstation 3. This is great, but honestly, if it doesn’t come with extra maps for 1943, it’s cold comfort. This is a game that has needed an update for a long, long time. Give me new maps, and again, I’ll be your bitch, Sony.
Finally came the Big Reveal: The NGP, or more accurately, the PS Vita — the update to the handheld gaming market. And this thing is a monster. Touch screen, two analogue sticks, six-axis control, back touchpad, a front- and back-facing camera, and wi-fi and 3G connectivity. It truly holds the possibility of taking your game anywhere.
Except that it’s exclusive to AT&T. That was a big groaner.
But I still was left wondering: Why no phone in it. Let’s be honest: The iPhone is now the dominant portable gaming console. Yes, you could argue that iPhone games are crap by portable game standards, but when you have one device that does phone, life organization, web browsing, texting, and games — even if they are relatively crappy — why would you want to have to lug around two boxes just to get a slightly improved games and be able to talk to all the people not talking on Playstation Network?
Even if those games include an amazing looking Uncharted game, Uncharted Abyss.
Trust me. I had that argument with another podcaster. And we will not agree. I think it’s not worth it. Not to the tune of $249 for wi-fi only and $299 (Thanks for the heads up on the typo!) for added 3G on AT&T.
So, bottom line, there were a few things to be excited about, and a lot that left questions and concerns. Am I right that the Vita isn’t enough to make it on its own? No way to know until holiday this year when they hit shelves. I’m pretty confident, though.
If I have to eat these words, I’m sure you’ll let me know.
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