It’s the second day of E3, and we’re about to head over to the Sony Press Conference. We’ll begin liveblogging from 11:30 am PST on, so check back shortly for our immediate, firsthand response to Sony’s big announcements.
11:37 am: Here we go! Sony has a shitload of TVs set up onstage– about 60 of them. The giant ones are running multiple games– Madden, Resistance, Force Unleashed, Socom, Tiger Woods…
We get a glimpse of Ghostbusters, too… a nice shot of the Stay Puft Man scaling the side of a building.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Jack Tretton, CEO of SCEA. Jack is welcoming us to the Shrine Auditorium, where big movie stars won awards. Some kind of Jack Palance reference– Jack Tretton is happy to be alive. Why is he dropping big names? Ah, here’s the point.
Solid Snake, Kratos, the guy from Resistance (Nathan Hale), these are the new celebrities.
Jack is proclaiming 2008 to be the year of the Playstation. 15 years ago, the seeds of the Playstation were planted. Does Sony make its own game system? (Their partnership with Nintendo at the time is not mentioned by Jack). Intense, vivid, powerful– bold words, sure, but I think it’s fair to say they describe Playstation games overall.
Two years into the PS1, we had Crash Bandicoot but not FF VII, Gran Turismo, and Tony Hawk for a few more years. The point here is that if you like what you’ve got now on the PS3, just wait until the middle and end of the console’s life cycle.
The PS3, Jack brags, set a world record for distributed computing with Folding@Home. Jack is happy about the movies, photos, and music you can store on your PS3. He quotes Henry Ford: “If I asked what my customers wanted, they’d tell me they wanted a faster horse.” The point is, tell customers what they want?
“Genre-defining, kick-ass games.” Yes, now you have my attention. 2008 Recap: Gran Turismo Prologue, GTA4, MGS4. All great games, and 2 out of 3 of them are PS3 exclusive.
Ok, let’s talk about new stuff, starting with the PS3. All screens fill with bright red backgrounds with a PS3 in front of it. Here comes Resistance 2 from Insomniac!
We’re on an overpass, firing a rocket launcher at at GIGANTIC, building-sized alien. It looks like something out of Gears of War, only huge. It picks you up, and you fire down onto it, and the thing drops you down onto a rooftop. You enter the building, with the beast peeking in through the windows. He roars.
Scaling the building from the inside, Nathan ventures out on some sort of crane-like structure between buildings, firing at the huge monster with a machine gun. It smashes through the walls of the next building, but we don’t get too much of a look at the destructible environments. Now, moving downwards from inside this second building, we’re picked up again and flung into a new area, through a building in slow-mo (with shattered glass), and to a new area. The Resistnace 2 logo comes up against a map of the United States. The crowd cheers.
An Insomniac developer is laying out the story. The Chimera have been attacking the US, and finally invaded in 1955, raining twisted creatures down. Nathan might have “more in common with the enemy than those he’s trying to defend”. 8 player co-op, 60 player multiplayer… Insomniac likes to talk about “scale” and thinks they’ll deliver. And we’re not talking Wii Fit type scale, we mean giant monsters and huge multiplayer matches.
Here’s a new trailer, with a new level: Twin Falls, Idaho. A Kennedy-like voice is intoning over the radio that America is under attack, but not by communists– by aliens! We’re seeing lots of scattered destruction. Seems like in-game footage to me. We see a few woodsy outdoor areas too. It’d be great if Resistance 2 went in a HL2 episode 2 direction. Cut to: Nathan Hale, turning off the radio. A few more shots of the environments. The logo comes up, and that’s the end.
Little Big Planet
11:56 am: Jack thanks Ted for the presentation. The topic turns to user-created content, so of course he’s going to talk about Little Big Planet.
Jack is going to show us a level from Little Big Planet. This also seems to be how they’re going to talk about the business position and boring stuff. This level was created just for the press conference.
Since Jack is from Boston, his Sackboy gets a Celtics jersey. The first part of this level is a bar graph like platformer– but not actual data, just bullet points. Innovation, games… and 23 billion in videogame sales in 2008. This is a bizarre presentation. Little Rube Goldberg devices are pulling up the “slides”. It’s jazzing up the data presentation, but actually I find it a bit distracting.
Jack says they’ll be getting into Latin America in 2008, and to illustrate this Sackboy stands in front of a little train. Sackboy runs to the right, revealing the phrase “Greatest Hits”… starting this year, the best Ps3 games will be $30, including Motorstorm, Warhawk, CoD3, Fight Night, Resistance, and Need for Speed Carbon. From Ubi: R6 Vegas, Assassin’s Creed, from Bethesda: Elder Scrolls, and from Tecmo, Ninja Gaiden Sigma.
Sackboy takes off in a pink truck, with a sign: Little Big Planet is coming in October 2008.
That was strange… not a good way to get information across, but at least it wasn’t dull.
Now we’re going to talk about Playstation 2. What are the new games? Force Unleashed, Yakuza 2, NCAA Football 09, Tiger Woods 09, Singstar pop vol 2, Mercenaries 2. Not much applause for the last-gen.
“This is the year Buzz! really makes the big time”. Buzz will be on PSP and on PS3 with special themed packs you can download this year. Singstar is also a huge deal– 15 million in sales.
New PS2 bundle: Lego Batman and the movie Justice League: New Frontiers, for $149. Not bad.
Jack says the fear is that technology will isolate us, but he is hopeful we will be connected instead. Just so everyone knows, I feel very connected to all of you reading this live right now.
Seriously, you guys rock.
Now it’s time to talk about the Playstation Network. This should be good! Jack mentions the PSN facelift, saying you get all the good stuff with “no hidden fees” (up yours, MS!)
Jack says he has a surprise for us. A new title. Ratchet and Clank Future: Quest for Booty. Shorter game, lower price. Paced like a blockbuster film.
Quest for Booty takes place after the last PS3 game… Clank has been abducted. One of the new abilities is an energy tether, sort of like the gravity gun. You can pick up lightning bugs and use them as a torch, for light/dark gameplay. This will also answer some questions lingering after Tools of Destruction.
This will be available for $15 on PSN. Not clear if you need the original game to play– I’m guessing yes, it’s an expansion.
Are you ready for a montage? First, Quest for Booty. Then Crash Commando, sort of a twin stick shooter with jetpacks, a side scroller. Fat Princess, which is… who freaking knows, but it looks cel-shaded and gorgeous. Pixeljunk: Eden, a trippy game. Another Pain game, this one set in an amusement park with roller coasters. Here’s Flower, the sequel to Flow, where you apparently control a gust of wind or flower-petals. Next a very scary looking, Silent hill type game called Blood Curse, then Ragdoll Kung Fu. Seems quite solid.
Of these, Flower, Eden, Fat Princess and Blood Curse look very intriguing.
Gran Turismo TV
GT TV is an update to Gran Turismo prologue. Pay per view and free racing programs. Vroom! Specials like “All about Ferrari”, hosted by Yamauchi, GT’s creator. If you like racing, this will probably be right up your alley. Light applause from the audience. This will be available August 1 via GT Prologue.
12:20 pm: It’s all about bragging rights, Jack says. PSN will have gameplay+ community. And that brings us to Playstation Home.
“Your patience will be rewarded”. After listing off some big name partners like EA and Nike, they’re going to show a video. The videos shows Home characters dancing and decorating. To me this looks better than Microsoft’s avatars– and it doesn’t smack of desperation like the MS avatars. A group is standing around a Warhawk war room table, then they launch the game. End video. Smattering of applause.
Movie studios are getting in on the action to offer movies, both rentals and purchases, priced competitively. TV shows will be 2$, movies will be 3-6 bucks for rentals, and 10-15 for purchase. Plus you can put these on your PSP. We’re going to learn how this new service works.
Starting in the PS Store, next to games is the movies tab. movies like Bank Job, Cloverfield, and Rambo are listed. Browsing through the movie category we see Crash and Napoleon Dynamite. You can sort by Studio– but who wants to browse by studio except studio execs?
On the Sony Pictures page, our guide takes us to Walk Hard. We see a description of the movie, and you can stream a trailer immediately. Hitting the square button makes this trailer full screen. This title, it seems, costs $3 to rent.
There are two ways to get your movies onto PSP. With the movie on your hard drive, you connect your PSP and can send it on over. Or you can access the store via a PC and download it that way. No direct PSP downloads without a PC or PS3.
These movies will be available TONIGHT.
12:31 pm: Last year saw the release of the PSP Slim. Elegant design… unless you like homebrew, but Jack’s not going to talk about that scene. We also saw the Madden and God of War packs. There will be a new one this year, one for the young ‘uns: Ratchet and Clank Size Matters pack. Silver PSP, the movie National Treasure 2, and of course Ratchet and Clank for PSP. Also, you get Echochrome. Total price: $200.
New PSP Resistance game! It looks like a third-person shooter, like Star Wars Battlefront. Not sure where this falls story-wise, but the cutscenes look nice. This game is coming out Spring 2009.
New PSP games for this and next year: Patapon 2, LocoRoco 2, shooters, sports games… Valkyria Chronicles, which looks like a neat anime-inspired shooter or RPG.
Back to the PS3. Live News, weather, and Webcam feeds. They call it “Life with Playstation” and it will be available by the end of the month.
DC Universe Online
What are the new games? Here’s one: DC Universe Online, from Sony Online Entertainment. It’s an MMO. We’re watching ahot new trailer– very bright and colorful, with characters like Batman, Wonder Woman, the Joker. No real look at the mechanics, but all the big figures seem to be there. If you’re playing as a nobody it might not be so great, unless you’re continually rubbing elbowswith the superheroes.
PS3 Pack and Development
80 GB Core Pack PS3, with same functionality as the 40 GB, for $400. Now they’re running a video, asking developers what they think of working on the PS3. Surprise, they are impressed and love it. Call of Duty 5, Madden 09 being shown. Far Cry 2 looks great, that’s coming from Ubi. They’re also talking about Fallout 3, Prince of Persia… jumping around between developers and titles.
They’re showing Force Unleashed, which has been talked about for every Sony system today. The PS3 version looks absolutely stunning– it was playing before this press conference began. That is one game that, now that I’ve seen it running in HD, I can’t wait to play.
We get a glimpse of the Fallou 3 shoulder-mounted mini-nuke that kicked off Microsoft’s press conference. These titles are all available on Xbox 360, but they look very nice in this promotional video.
AAA PS3 Titles
Now we’re talking about some of the exclusive games, like Motorstorm and Resistance 2. Here’s a video to illustrate this point. Most, but not all of these are actually exclusive Little Big Planet, to start. Motorstorm: Pacific Rift, MGS4, Quantum of Solace (007), Socom Confrontation, Ghostbusters. The Agency, Soul Calibur, Mirror’s Edge, Resident Evil 5. This segment shows some kind of new villain from RE5, a guy in a green blazer saying “just in time for the party”.
Killzone 2 is in the video, looks fantastic. That ends the trailer. Some hot games in there. Are these all coming out in 2008?
God of War 3
God of War 3 is coming to Playstation 3: Not much of an annoucement. But here’s a trailer! Titan’s voice over: “Our victory brought order to the land, prosperity to mankind”. This is talking about the new Titans vs Gods war that Kratos started at the end of God of War 2.
Kratos: “In the end, there will be only chaos”. These are cutscenes only– crashing waves, a darkened Mt. Olympus, and a close-up of Kratos’ eyes, sneering and saying that last line.
Now, a trailer for inFamous. What is this game? Looks similar to Prototype, a sort of super-charged city-crawler. Not sure what to make of this one.
MAG: Massive Action Game.
Brand new title: a massively multiplayer online action game from Zipper Interactive. It’s called MAG, Massive Action Game. 256 Players (wow! A few oohs from the crowd). Key features: Squad based, character growth, and of course 256 players. Here’s the first glimpse of the game, in trailer form.
Has that same yellowy-brown, washed out look of Call of Duty 4, and Resistance 2. Plus lots of Tom Clancy style overlays. We see a commander’s view of hundreds of soldiers on the field, plus lots of graet closeups of firefights and tank battles. This game looks sweet, if this is in fact in-game footage. The camera is whipping around as soldiers target eachother. Since there are so many, there’s a lot of pray and spray. After the battles, the dead litter the ground. Airstrikes are called in, with paratroopers. And that’s the end of MAG.
Big applause. That was really cool. We’re going to get to play some of these games (not the ones they ended the show with, unfortunately) over in the press area. We’ll let you know what we’re able to go hands-on with, and have more to say then. And with that, this press conference is concluded.
Sony’s press conference really delivered, I think. The Reistance 2 opener was huge, and we got our God of War 3 confirmation, plus a really short trailer. MAG was a nice surprise– this will be one Battlefield type game to keep an eye on. Other than that, it seems like they have a solid PSP lineup, with a new Resistance PSP game to keep that system going a bit further.
It’ll take a bit for all three of the hardware makers’ press conferences to sink in, but I think Sony might have edged out Microsoft in this one. There weren’t any real clunkers– the crowd responded well to every bit of information they offered. And don’t forget, as of tonight you can rent and download movies on your PS3.