E3 2012: Sony Conference Coverage and Thoughts
Last year, Sony started out at a big disadvantage because of their security breach and had to make it up to everybody before they could be trusted with anything else, but this year they have the ability to show off everything they have in their arsenal, so let’s see what they displayed.
Sony has a big tendency to do a lot more talking during their conferences and Jack Tretton certainly did a lot of that during this one, but after some introductions and the typical thank you to gamers, we were shown the new project from the creators of Heavy Rain, entitled “Beyond: Two Souls”.
The entire game was claimed to run in real time and, graphically, it was definitely one of the most impressive console games shown at E3 today. Wrinkles in the faces were convincing, the facial animation was incredible and every movement felt real. The video started off with a police officer talking to Jodie Holmes, our main character, about how he found her out in the middle of nowhere. She doesn’t speak a word and he continues to try to talk to her. After some time, you see his coffee cup on his desk fly off and hit the wall. He gets a little shaken and decides to leave her in the office while he goes outside.
Swat shows up to the precinct and surround the room that Jodi is in. A small moment where they have the police officer open the door for seemingly no reason was a little weird, but we cut to black and come back to a montage of Jodie doing numerous different abilities like making a barrier of water form around her and showing what appears to be possession of another swat member. She blows up a gas station and a helicopter and she appears to be talking to some spirit that we don’t see.
The game will apparently follow Jodie through 15 years of her life and she’s being voiced by Academy Award winning actress Ellen Page. Everything about this game looks suspenseful, action packed and might even have some hints of terror in it. Only time will tell.
Following this announcement, gameplay footage was shown for Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale, Sony’s answer to Smash Bros. At first we were shown Kratos, Sweet tooth, Sly Cooper, Parappa the Rapper, Fat Princess and a soldier from Killzone. It was announced that the game would be coming to Vita as well and would offer cross play abilities (Letting some people play it on vita and some people play on PS3 but being able to versus each other). During the demo, you could build up energy for your “Super” which is like any other super move in any other fighter. There were three levels of Super that were shown, level 1 being next to nothing, level 2 having a short cut to the character and doing enough to at least take down 1 or 2 characters lives and level 3 having a cinematic that would dish out enough damage to take down all characters at least once, if not twice. The game will mainly focus on score, however you can kill characters during gameplay. After the tech demo was shown, two new characters were announced; Nathan Drake and Big Daddy from Bioshock. This game certainly looks to be as cool as Smash Bros. And it’ll definitely be interesting to see how well it does when it releases.
Jack Tretton then did a decently long monologue about the new enhancements to Vita, some things we can expect to release and Playstations track record in general. Starting out, the new announcement that you could start to use the vita as a stand alone controller for the PS3 was announced and that LittleBigPlanet 2 will be the first game to allow for this via an upcoming update.
Tretton made an emphasis on being into the indie scene and talked about Journey being the most downloaded PSN digital game ever, as well as announced Unfinished Swan as an exclusive title and also mention Papo & Yo.
PSN will be getting 12 new free games for all members and will start cycling free games every month. Starting out some titles include Infamous 2, LittleBigPlanet 2 and Saints Row 2.
Vita will be getting 60 new titles this year including Retro City Rampage and When Vikings Attack. PS1 Classics will also be making their way to the Vita, some titles including Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy VII, Arc the Lad and Jet Moto. Youtube, Hulu and Crackle will also have their debut on the Vita.
In the new big title front, Vita will be getting Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified exclusive and it will also be getting Assassins Creed III: Liberation, featuring the very first female Assassin, utilizing touch controls and will have cross platform “goods” if you have Assassins Creed III on PS3, allowing you to unlock new items such as Conner’s Tomahawk in Liberation. Assassins Creed III:Liberation will be releasing on October 30th along with the very first Crystal white Vita bundled with the game and a 4GB SD card. I was very surprised that so much was talked about with Vita, but I feel like putting the cross play feature definitely takes it from being it’s own stand-alone portable system and makes it more of an extension of the PS3, which I feel was a great move.
Following all the intensive announcements about Vita, we were treated to a special Assassins Creed gameplay session that took place on the high seas of the Carribean. Conner was the captain of his own ship and had to take on a slew of enemy ships. During this demo, we were shown a dynamically changing weather system that went from a bright and sunny day in the Carribean to gusty winds and high tide waves as the boat swayed from side to side. Rain mechanics and the water itself look convincingly amazing and the battle was even more impressive.
Being able to control the ship, you could turn whatever direction you desired and you had control of where to fire and when to fire your cannons at an enemy ship. During this battle scene, cannons would hit other ships and wood fragments and shards would scatter themselves with every explosion. If Conner’s boat was hit, these pieces would fall and show up on the deck and the destruction was extremely visible. The small details are what made the demo so incredible. Assassins Creed III will launch on October 30th and an exclusive PS3 bundle pack and Exclusive DLC.
Far Cry 3 was also brought up again as the new 4 player co-op session was announced, allowing 4 people to tackle a completely separate campaign as a team. The short demo showed different characters with different load outs taking down a group of baddies and laying bombs on a bridge. One player had a flamethrower, another had a pistol and rifle and another had a straight out machine gun. If one player went down and needed help, one would stay and help while two others tried to clear out the area. You could also see where players were at through the environment like Left 4 Dead or Team Fortress 2. After grabbing a certain amount of bombs and laying them on the bridge, they retreated and watched it get blown to bits. After the demo, there was the announcement of exclusive DLC and a map editor for continued play sessions.
Sony hasn’t forgotten the Move and they announced a new way of reading books called “Wonderbook” which is an augmented reality game using specific books designed for the platform. The one that was shown off was the spell book by J.K. Rowling (Another was a book called “Diggs Nightcrawler”, a noire style book) that was a book geared towards Harry Potter fans interested in learning more about spells and some small stories from the Harry Potter universe. During this demo, each page would have it’s own spell that you had to learn, such as a flame casting spell. Using said spell you could then do small tasks like destroying enemies or accidentally catching your book on fire. With a slight hiccup during the demo, the technology looked solid and could definitely interest families and fans of the Harry Potter series. Doing well and learning many spells would unlock more stories from the world of Hogwarts.
Playstation Suite (Which was renamed “Playstation Mobile”) was announced to be coming to open source platforms such as Android, with a new partnership with HTC to make gaming phones for those who wish to use them for said purpose.
Kratos returned with the new look at God of War: Ascension. The game itself seemed to graphically appear the same and the gameplay appeared to be very similar, albeit a bit more fast paced, but still as gritty and satisfying as before. Kratos’ first enemy encounter in the demo was a demon looking goat/human hybrid and Kratos destroyed them with little trouble. QTE’s are still a part of the game, though they’ve redone them so that now each button on the controller represents a part of the screen. If you need to press X, it’ll appear at the bottom of the screen, if you need to press O it’ll appear on the right of the screen and so on. A new game mechanic was shown that allowed Kratos to reverse time on certain objects that may have been destroyed. He put together a collapsed elevator shaft, but before it was completely put back together, he used it in it’s floating form to jump across a gap to get to the side of the shaft with the elevator entrance.
After some small fights, giant tentacles come out of the water and try to attack Kratos, but some quick dodges got him out of harms way, only to put him into the harm of a statue come to life, wielding a giant hammer. The armored creature was slow and so Kratos was able to attack him without too much trouble and destroy it. A little further down the road and Kratos was met with yet another big enemy, an elephant/human hybrid. There was a new move shown off that would allow Kratos to do what kind of looked like a Super Saiyan charging up and then doing a devastating attack to all enemies around him. After using this a couple times, the elephant was weak enough for the QTE event, in which kratos got on it’s head and split it open, exposing it’s brain.
The giant tentacles came again and this time Kratos jumped onto one and jumped into the water, where a new enemy awaited, mouth open wide, when the screen went to black. God of War will release on March 12, 2013 and it’s looking to be yet another strong title in the series with a few new tricks up it’s sleeve.
Finally, we were greeted with the big Naughty Dog feature, the Last of Us. The entire area was black and dark with nothing more than the sounds of birds and atmosphere. After a while you heard two people talking and running. The two main characters come out of the dark, close the door behind them and blockade it. From there, they went outside into the sun, where an open world awaited them. The graphics look beautiful and the environment looks destroyed, yet luscious. Flooded waters wreak havoc on the city and green plant-life has taken a hold where stone and industrialization once stood. A funny joke at Twilight with a poster for “Dawn of the Wolf” was exceptionally laugh inducing, but the overall feeling was that of dread and despair and survival. Creaking stairs and ceilings gave the feeling that at any moment, the entire building you were walking in would give way and collapse beneath the protagonists’ feet.
After some exploring, enemy chatter showed up and using a cover system, the main characters were able to listen in and not be seen. The cover appeared to be much more for hiding than for pop out shooting, which is a welcomed new mechanic. These enemies appeared to be other human beings looking to loot the building. After some sneaking, the main guy chokes and kills one of these looters and gets his six shooter. While trying to reload, he’s spotted by another enemy. He tries to shoot him so that he doesn’t warn the others but misses his shot. He starts running after him, running close to the wall and rubbing his hand against the wall to balance himself (That small detail was incredible, and more like it will be mentioned ahead). A small gun fight ensues and it’s apparent that you can’t get shot too much, because each time you’re shot you react very realistically, moving backwards, not being able to focus on returning fire, only focusing on getting to cover or getting away.
Some sneaking around some more allowed for more strategic planning. When sprinting, if a character runs into cover that is something like a closet that’s open and still has clothes hanging, the impact of hitting the cover will cause the clothing to move (Another great detail). The main character grabbed an enemy and made him a hostage. You can point your gun at the enemy or another, but when aiming at a new enemy, the hostage can move or rustle in order to throw off your shot. This makes for some great new experiences with trying to make a good strategy. After taking down two more enemies, one remained and when the player went to shoot he realized he was out of ammo. The clicking of the empty gun tipped off the AI character and he came out with the intent of killing the main guy.
After a small fight broke out, more enemies come down the stairs, you hear them say that they heard gun fire. Our hero gets his backpack out and looks inside. The inventory showed that he had supplies to make a molotov cocktail. By holding down the choose button, you have to wait a little bit for him to make the item, but once it’s done it’s ready to go. He throws the cocktail and gets two guys on fire with it, their screams and animations sending chills down the spine. A guy wielding a shotgun comes around the corner and the player gets into cover. He waits until the enemy is close and then attempts to take his gun, successfully. He knocks out the guy and then is tackled by another. After your second character stabs him in the back with a knife, you’re given the chance to get up and take him down. The final shot was hitting the guy in the head with the shotgun and then given the chance to shoot him square in the face with the shotgun, his pleas for you not to being screamed. This new title is shaping up to be one of the best looking new IP’s of this year and I cannot wait to see more of it.
Sony delivered some solid content, especially in the realm of new IP’s. They had a few cool returns and sequels and some good announcements for their hardware. They definitely did a good job handling the integration of their portable system and made it seem much more relevant than when it was unveiled. It’ll be interesting to see how their year spans out, as this E3 was rather good for them.