Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Day 2 of E3 09: Sony

Oh Sony, where do I even begin with you? Having what seemed to be one of the longest presentations this year, Sony had a lot of announcements for E3 09. Not being a PS3 owner, it was hard for me to really get excited for most of these announcement, but Sony did keep me entertained during the 2+ hours they had the stage.
Once again, CEO Jack Tretton came on stage saying that 2009 is going to be the best year ever for Sony. According to Tretton, there are 364 games set for Playstation platforms this year. He went on to name some big titles set for PS3 and claim that Sony will remain committed to the PS2 as long as there is consumer interest in the product.
This first game shown in Sony's press conference was Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The first Uncharted was known for it's gorgeous visuals and Uncharted 2 remains committed to the same cinematic quality. A demo of the single player game was shown, where the main character climbed buildings and engaged in combat with a helicopter.
Last year, Sony announced their 256 player game, MAG (Massive Action Game). No real in-game footage of the game was seen until today, when the developers showed off a real live 256 player skirmish. Players are divided into platoons and squads, and each squad has a leader. The leader can assign objectives and look at a top-down tactical map to see where the squad should move for best tactical advantage. With such a large amount of players in game, you can expect that the maps are massive in size. The game also has an XP system similar to that of the latest Call of Duty games, where kills and successful objective are rewarded. Expect to see MAG in stores this fall exclusively for PS3.
Prior to E3, a lot of rumors of possible Sony announcements were leaked out online. One of which, the PSP Go, was confirmed today by Sony. Called "the worst kept secret of E3", the PSP Go centers around digital distribution of content and eliminates the need for physical UMDs. It's 50% smaller and 40% lighter than the original PSP, slides up to reveal all the same buttons and nub (singular), carries 16GB of internal flash memory, has built in wi-fi, and allows bluetooth and memory stick integration. The PSP Go will not, however, replace the PSP 3000, as Sony understands that there are gamers who prefer having tangible software in their hands. PSP Go will be released October 1 in North America and Europe, priced at $249.99. Sony also announced Media Go, a program that will allow faster, intuitive download and transfer of content from PC to PSP. The PSP will also be able to download apps like SenseMe, which will analyze your personal music library on PSP and create playlists according to moods.
Going along with the confirmation of PSP Go, 2 new PSP games were announced: Gran Turismo PSP and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Gran Turismo is a full GT game with 800 different cars, 35 tracks, and 60 different layouts of those tracks. The game runs at 60 frames per second, making it look like the best driving simulator on handheld consoles so far. It will also allow players to trade cars between garages and supports adhoc multiplayer with up to four players. It's set to release along side the PSP Go on October 1st. Hideo Kojima came on stage to talk about the new PSP game Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Set 10 years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 3, Kojima promises that this is not just another spin off or side story, but another step in the Metal Gear saga entirely. It's being developed by Kojima himself along with the MGS4 team. Expect Peace Walker to appear in 2010.
Tretton came back on stage to give a glimpse of the PSP lineup of 2009. Some highlights seen include LittleBigPlanet, Jak & Daxter, Dissidia, Soul Calibur, and Motorstorm. Tretton also announced that Final Fantasy VII will be on sale on the PSN Store starting today. After boasting some stats and another montage of PS3 games, Tretton announced the PS3-exclusive Rockstar title, Agent. Set in the 1970s, Agent will bring forth the world of espionage and assassination of the time. No footage or screenshots were shown.
The people from Ubisoft came on stage to show off a demo of Assassins Creed 2. Why they didn't do this during their own press conference, I don't know, but the game looks beautiful. It stars another ancestor of Desmond, Ezio. As mentioned in the Ubisoft conference, it's set in Renaissance Italy. Shown in the demo, Ezio befriends Leonardo Da Vinci, who provides Ezio with upgrades, gadgets, and inventions. For example, Ezio was shown utilizing Da Vinci's flying machine to swoop from the skies. The game will have more assassination techniques and 30 different weapons (with a bonus 6 if integrated with the Assassin's Creed Bloodlines game on PSP). It will be on shelves this holiday season.
Another trailer for Final Fantasy XIII was then shown, this time showing a little more gameplay footage but still focusing on the cinematic quality of the game. Afterwards, Tretton announced that the SquareEnix people have prepared a video of Final Fantasy XIV to show the audience. Not only that, but the game will be released in 2010, the same year as the release of Final Fantasy XIII. After the video, it became clear that Final Fantasy XIV will be another online RPG, thus reducing the amount of shock of it being released so close to FFXIII.
Keeping up with it's competitors, Sony announced that it has been hard at work in developing a motion controller. They came on to demonstrate their prototype, which appeared to be a microphone-looking device along with a Playstation Eye camera. Keeping in mind that the controller is still in development, what was shown was somewhat impressive. The controller does have buttons, such as a trigger button for integration with shooters. It's motion detection is amazingly precise and it will be interesting to see which company will end up having the superior motion controller.
Expanding on the motto of LittleBigPlanet (Play. Create. Share.), Sony showed a demo of the new kart racer, ModNation Racers. The characters are customizable, so each player can create a racer to fit their personality. The game will supposedly harness the full power of the PS3, graphics and physics-wise. It contains a track creator mode, which appears to be very user-friendly; the demonstrators created a fully-playable track within 5 minutes. Look for it around 2010.
Sony officially announced the next game from the Ico team, although it was leaked weeks earlier. The game is called The Last Guardian. If you haven't already seen the trailer, I suggest you look it up as the game looks gorgeous (most of this team's work is). The game is a PS3 exclusive; no release date yet. Next up was a trailer for Gran Turismo 5. Not much to say about it other than it's still the same hardcore driving simulator.
To close the show, a demo of the God of War III gameplay was shown. This game will be the last of the trilogy, as Kratos attempts to gain revenge on Zeus and the gods of Mount Olympus. The demo showed the brutal executions that all God of War fans are familiar with. Kratos also has some new weapons, such as gauntlets which he can pound the ground with. The final chapter is set for a March 2010 release.
Sony's presentation showed some really cool games and innovations. It's a shame that some of their shock value was reduced due to press leaks. Overall, Sony gets a B+ from me this year. I will agree with CEO Jack Tretton in that 2009 looks great for Sony.


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