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Fashionably late but budget-conscious, Sony’s showing was easily a step up from the disappointment of Microsoft’s presentation. By the end they knocked it out of the park with a major announcement, but we’ll get there in a moment.
Something Sony did very effectively was detail exactly why multi-platform titles on PS3 and NGP were best played there. I have a giant list of titles with exclusive content Sony focused on, including the new Star Trek chest-high walls shooter, SSX, Street Fighter X Tekken, Need for Speed: The Run, Battlefield 3, Bioshock Infinite, and Saints Row The Third. Some of it in the form of “we slapped an old game in with it,” but a statement of clear value none the less, not just something exclusively for peripheral owners. Their Move focus wasn’t as strong this time, with a rambling speech by Ken Levine about Sony convincing him to include motion controls in Bioshock Infinite, but in a way he hasn’t actually decided on yet, an upcoming LittleBigPlanet 2 patch, and an underwhelming Move title called Medieval Moves: Dead Man’s Quest, where you control a skeleton and shoot at gigantic glowing targets with extremely generic stock sound effects. Production values seem very low on that title, and the narration by one of the developers didn’t improve matters.
Service wasn’t a huge focus, although there were two separate apologies over the PSN outage, both careful to skip over the fact that confidential data was lost as well. CinemaNow, Best Buy’s tv and movie rental service, adds now a fifth way to rent movies on PSN. (That’s the PS Store, VUDU, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and CinemaNow.) Choice is nice, but some focus would be better in this instance. In a service-related aspect, Sony’s readying two pieces of budget-oriented 3D hardware, including a PlayStation-branded 3D TV for $499 complete with glasses and a game, with additional glasses at the $60 range. It’s an unexpected, but interesting way of pushing the 3D market forward. I for one welcome our blue-skinned space cat overlords, so I’m for this move. But I can’t help think of those overpriced gaming TVs from the 90s.
The games showed decently enough, although something about the Uncharted 3 demo seemed strange, perhaps due to the animation being used to simulate ocean voyage. The trailer shown just after it was very effective at replicating movie-styled action, and it had me pretty hooked for a series I don’t follow that closely. Resistance 3 didn’t do that much for me: it was a short demo with two segments, both of which felt like they stopped before a solid resolution, or even a climax. Kobe demoed an NBA title, and I felt like he actually did a decent job trying to sell it at the end; most athletes get trotted out onto stage, sound bemused and half-chuckle through their lines, then wander off to go play Call of Duty.
Infamous 2? That’s out tomorrow, so devoting time to a lengthy trailer for it felt a little odd, but it might work out for them. Starhawk reminded me of Borderlands somehow, but the Macross mechs were nice at least. Sly Cooper 4: Thieves in Time had a great teaser; I was surprised to learn Sucker Punch isn’t behind it, but they did approve Sanzaru’s pitch, developed while they were working on the Sly Collection. They seem to have the style down pretty well, ideally they’ve got a grasp on the gameplay too. Which has been a drastically different thing for every Sly Cooper game, come to think of it…
If there’s one game that left me meh, it was Dust 514. The narration and presentation was interesting, but the brief clip of actual shooting they portrayed literally looked like it was cribbed from Modern Warfare, or pretty much anything else this generation. Star Trek had almost the same problem, but focused at least a little more on exploration and natural hazards. I know there’s a lot more to Dust, but the moment I was looking down those same ironsights I’ve seen in a dozen games this generation, I was feeling pretty jaded.
And that’s everything, right? So we’ll call the conference a B-, not bad overall, but… oh, we’re forgetting something, aren’t we? The elephant in the room:
The Last Guardian. No, sadly that was absent this time.
Sales charts. Not even presented in a humorous LBP framework, for shame Sony.
No, we’re talking about the NGP, the Neo Geo Po Next Generation Portable. It has a name, one leaked days ago, the PlayStation Vita. That’s “Vee-ta,” for those still locked in uncertainty. We saw some titles we’d seen before, we saw some new titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Wipeout 2048, ModNation Racers, Ruin, and LittleBigPlanet. Even Yoshinori Ono of Capcom lived up to his Trollno style, revealing a Vita version of Street Fighter X Tekken to the audience rather coyly, with Cole MacGrath included as an exclusive character.
As all this went on, one looming question: the price. People began to doubt they would reveal it this time, for fear of a negative reaction, and although it was spoiled for a few by some press releases hitting before the conference was over, many were still pleasantly surprised at the price point: $249/€249/¥24,900 for the Wi-fi only version, with an extra 50 (currency of choice) bump for built-in 3G. To put this into perspective, the Wi-fi only version will have an MSRP cheaper in Japan than the 3DS, as things currently stand. They have to be taking a serious cost hit on this price, but it’s clear they’re going for the throat, and while I wouldn’t expect a 3DS price drop tomorrow, Nintendo’s hand is being forced. It’s an impressive strike by Sony. Although laughably, they did get a loud boo when they announced AT&T as their exclusive 3G partner. Unless they’re offsetting costs, locking to one carrier like that was a poor choice.
That’s Sony’s presser in the bag. I’ve seen some wildly varying opinions on it already, but speaking as someone who wasn’t even that hyped for Uncharted, Resistance, and some of their other bread-and-butter titles, I thought it was a pretty solid showing, one of their best, even if they hadn’t included the Vita price home run. With that, I think they knocked it out of the park solidly, and Nintendo needs a strong showing tomorrow to get gamers not just excited about their new console, but still enthused about the 3DS as well.
This post was originally written by the author for TSSZ News.