Sony made their presence felt at E3 2012 with their annual press conference. They kicked things off with the a fantastic montage depicting the best games in the history of PlayStation, then, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, Jack Tretton came out to give a brief introduction to the conference and to introduce Quantic Dream’s head honcho David Cage.
Cage gave a short speech about the importance of technology in games and how they revolutionized it. Cage then revealed his latest game; Beyond: Two Souls. Little is known about the title except it follows the life of protagonist Jodie over 15 years of her life. The other biggest thing that Cage revealed was that the game’s lead role will be played and motion captured by Academy Award nominee; Ellen Page (Juno). Then we were shown a trailer for the game, which looked spectacular. The animation was leaps and bounds (no pun intended) beyond Heavy Rain, which is really saying something. No gameplay was shown but what can be deduced from the little that was shown is that the main character may have some type of telekinetic ability and that she is on the run. The game looks extremely promising, look for it sometime in 2013.
After that we are lead into a demo of Super Smash Brothers clone: PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale. The new multiplayer fighter from Superbot Entertainment is a four player bash em up’ that stars the PlayStation’s biggest characters including: Sly Cooper, Kratos, Fat Princess and Parappa the Rapper among other favourites such as the newly announced Nathan Drake and Big Daddy from Bioshock. The demo looked solid and overall the game seems like it could be fun. One of the most interesting parts of the game is the stages. Each stage is comprised of two different game franchises. The two that were on show was Metropolis from the Ratchet and Clank universe mixed with the Hydra level from God of War. These two worked well together and was a nice addition to gameplay, with the level interacting with the players such as the Hydra attempting to eat the competitors.
Jack Tretton then came back out to announce that Little Big Planet 2 will support cross play for all-new PS3 and Vita DLC coming later this year. He also announced that 80% of PS3s and Vitas are connected to the internet and that the PlayStation Network has over 1,500 downloadable titles available. Also announced was that there will be over 200 new PlayStation Network games released over the next 12 months. The last major announcement made about the PlayStation Network was the expansion of PlayStation Plus. The system will be expanded to include full games for free each month starting with Infamous 2, Little Big Planet 2 and Saints Row 2. This wasn’t all though. Jack also offhandedly announced that a new 5$ a month service would be part of PlayStation Plus that gives players access to an instant games library. This is probably related to the alleged acquisition of a cloud gaming service.
Next up was some Vita news. Although it wasn’t the price cut that we were all expecting, we did get some nice news in the form of PlayStation One classics being available on Vita, launching with Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy VII. Also unveiled was the Call of Duty title for Vita, Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified, nothing was shown however, but we were told to expect more details “in the coming months”. The next and probably biggest announcement for Vita was that an all new entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation will launch for Vita on October 30th, the same day as the full game on PlayStation 3. Also announced was a day one hardware bundle with the game, a 4GB memory stick and an all new white PlayStation Vita.
The next thing that was shown was Assassin’s Creed 3’s new mechanic of ship combat. The mechanic seems to involve the player still taking control of Connor in a high seas battle against enemy ships in the middle of a wonderful looking Caribbean. The mechanic looks rather fleshed out including many different types of cannon fire and being able to jump to the enemy ship. A new console bundle was also announced that will include the game and exclusive DLC launching day one.
Far Cry 3 was shown off in a new four player co-op mode. The game looks absolutely beautiful the gameplay looks fun and diverse. The game also touts a full single player experience, a full multiplayer and co-op suite and a separate area for map editing. The game seems to be running full steam ahead and will launch in 2013.
Andrew House then came out to discuss PlayStation Move and how it is a supplement to core games and not an all out replacement. What followed however was anything but a core gaming experience. A new piece of hardware is shown off known as Wonderbook. The Wonderbook is an augmented reality tool that makes storybooks interactive with the PlayStation Move, it looks like a fun tool for children, but it may be too expensive for parents to be willing to spend the required cash. A new title from Moonbot is announced named Diggs Nightcrawler. Also announced was a new experience from JK Rowling which was billed as a whole new experience in the Harry Potter universe. Book of Spells is an interactive book that teaches you the spells from the massively popular franchise and uses them in mini games throughout the book.
Next we get a small announcement that HTC phones are now part of the PlayStation Suite catalog of phones, now renamed PlayStation: Mobile.
We then got a demo for the next installment of the God of War franchise God of War: Ascension. The gameplay looks standard but that’s fine, the God of War formula is so finely-tuned that there wasn’t any need to change it. One new mechanic that is introduced was that Kratos seems to have a new power to reverse or slow down time, which will be interesting as long as it is not overused. We are shown a boss fight against a kraken that is truly spectacular. The monster was enormous in scale and was a great way to show off the fidelity of the engine. God of War:Ascension is released March 12 2013.
The final thing that was shown is a demo for the new IP from Naughty Dog; The Last of Us. Our protagonists Joel and Ellie are shown walking through a worn down part of the city and the environments are truly stunning. The banter between the characters feels natural and the relationship feels real. We are then shown through an area that is in an abandoned hotel and this where the games combat mechanics are displayed. Ammo is sparse and shooting seems to only be an option once in awhile. A lot of the combat is also melee and seems very visceral and brutal. Although very Uncharted like, the melee looks fun and intense. The demo continues with Ellie saving Joel by bashing an enemy over the head with something heavy, its great to see Ellie’s AI working so well and in tune with Joel’s, I hope these moments aren’t heavily scripted and can happen sporadically.
Overall I think Sony had a very strong showing. All the core game demos shown were outstanding and the Vita and PlayStation Plus announcements were promising. The announcement of Wonderbook seemed like a bit of a misstep but if handled correctly could be a fun addition to the console.
It’ll be very interesting to see how Nintendo responds.