Sony’s 2012 E3 Press Conference in Review
Mixed reactions are not uncommon at press conferences these days- this is especially true now that “casual” gaming has become such a huge focus. The diehard fans and critics want one thing, the general public wants another. The company does its best to cover all the bases, so the shows never cater to one group 100%. Sometimes, shows take bigger missteps than others. This was not really the case for Sony today- only one segment of the show was aimed at an audience other than the traditional, hardcore gamer. The Playstation 3 had a wonderful showing, which helped Sony walk away tonight having put on the second-best conference of the day, just behind Ubisoft. However, there was one thing that left us scratching our heads. We had assumed that, with the decline of the PS3 and the recent release of the Playstation Vita, that the Vita would be the star of the show. Turns out, it was anything but.
Cue the First Party Games
First up at the show was Quantic Dream’s reveal of their new IP, Beyond: Two Souls. Disappointed that Ellen Page was not actually the voice of Ellie in The Last of Us? Well fear not, the Heavy Rain developer has got you covered; she’s doing all of the voice acting and motion capture for Beyond. This game features a deep narrative, with an emphasis on drawing out the player’s emotions. It also appears to be much-more action packed than their previous efforts. The game is absolutely stunning, as you can see below, and Quantic’s KARA tech demo from earlier this year should give you an idea of what kind of facial animation we’re getting here.
Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale obviously made a big appearance at the show. We’ve seen a lot of the game over the past few months, but it was nice to see the game in action, played live with four players. Cross-play between the PS3 and Vita versions of the game was confirmed by way of the demonstration, as two combatants played with Vitas, the other two with Dualshocks. The Vitas were used, not just as a controller, but as a platform. This is a new kind of multiplayer option we’re going to see this generation- it is a bit like the local handheld multiplayer experience, only some players are using a TV. Finally, they wrapped up this section by announcing that Nathan Drake of the Uncharted and Big Daddy of the Bioshock franchises would appear as fighters in the game, with a holiday 2012 release window.
Following this was some exciting news for Littlebigplanet 2 fans. Soon, a DLC update will be released that adds Vita support for the game. You’ll be able to use your Vita as the interface for building levels, as well as a controller for the multiplayer experience, not unlike All-Stars. The DLC will also include a brand new story mode, new costumes, stickers, and objects. Note that this is an extension of the LBP2 experience and NOT Littlebigplanet Vita, which was conspicuously and disappointingly absent from the conference. This began a string of good, but tainted announcements for Vita hopefuls. Littlebigplanet Karting was also absent- though after the conference a trailer was revealed that detailed a Kevin Butler DLC costume.
Playstation Plus was rumored to be receiving a major overhaul, with an emphasis on Vita content and support. No overhaul was detailed and Vita details were scarce. Though they did announce that they are going to make a bigger push for premium content, starting tomorrow with Littlebigplanet 2, inFAMOUS 2, and Saint’s Row 2 free to those with a subscription. Nine more games are to follow this month. If you didn’t think PS+ was a good deal before, they might have you now. In other program news, Playstation Suite has been renamed Playstation Mobile. The purpose is to bring Playstation-certified content to Playstation certified phones. They’ve yet to detail anything specific, other than that they are partnering with HTC.
Playstation Vita Missteps
Then came the Vita “portion” of the conference, and it was a meager one. In addition to the forthcoming Youtube application, Hulu Plus and Crackle were confirmed to be on the way. Call of Duty, confirmed to be in development last year, was revealed to be a spinoff called “Declassified” and is not a port of the console game. Nothing more than a logo splash was given besides the promise that it would be a console Call of Duty experience in your hands. We’ll believe it when we see it. And that was it, moving on.
For more on our disappointment, stay tuned for an editorial concerning the Vita’s showing.
Ubisoft’s Second Conference
Ubisoft then took the stage once again to continue their stellar conference from earlier in the day with exclusive footage of Far Cry 3 and Assassin’s Creed III. They detailed the four-player co-op campaign for the former, and exciting new sea-based battles for the latter. They also showed the one outstanding Playstation Vita exclusive with their Assassin’s Creed III spinoff, Liberation. It is going to be an open-world, console-quality Assassin’s Creed experience. Video evidence was provided. Both this game and its big brother are to be released on October 30th and will be part of new hardware bundles this holiday season, including the first run of the Crystal White Playstation Vita.
Then it happened- that one stumble we mentioned earlier- The Move segment of the conference. For a solid twenty minutes, Sony demoed their new project called Wonderbook. It is a Playstation Move-controlled, Playstation Eye-enabled augmented reality game that is played with a blank book in front of you. On the television, you’ll see all manner of things emerge from the book that you can interact with. Now, this is actually a platform in a sense- developers can create their own “books”. And so they are- Moonbot Studios is developing one called Diggs Nightcrawler. No details other than it recreates the old film noire setting. The biggest announcement here is that JK Rowling herself is creating an interactive book called Book of Spells. It takes place in the Harry Potter universe, features all new material from Rowling, and involves the player by way of spell casting with the Move controller. It is assumed that the Wonderbook is aimed towards a younger audience, as they put an emphasis on the educational aspects of it, though there is potential for unique gameplay experiences.
The Big Finish
To pick the core audience back up, Sony launched into God of War: Ascension. Forgoing a cinematic trailer, they dropped us straight into gameplay. It was mentioned that the game never really lets up, and that was extremely obvious from the gameplay. Kratos had to face off against mini-boss after mini-boss, with a larger boss attacking at various times and near-constant attack from smaller enemies. There was literally no down time, and the game looked exhausting- in a good way. There seems to be a bigger emphasis on more physical action- grappling and wrestling enemies- as well as a wide variety of weaponry. There are also some interesting puzzle elements that involve breaking away and rearranging landscapes. The biggest reveal of all is that the game will be in our hands March 12th, 2013.
As the conference drew to a close, Sony needed to go out with a bang. And they certainly did- literally- as Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us made its much-anticpated, gameplay-focused appearance and, well, you just have to watch it;
And that wraps up Sony’s 2012 E3 Press Conference. The Playstation 3 had an incredible showing- it is definitely not dead and it is definitely not time for the next generation of Playstation, because there is plenty of gaming to be had with the hardware we’ve got. We were disappointed by the Vita’s showing, or lack thereof. But perhaps Sony still has a few cards left to show later this week.
Sound off in the comments with your thoughts! And stick with us here at FanBolt for more coverage all week long, including Nintendo’s Press Conference Tuesday morning!