As the last of the Big Three to hold its E3 press conference, Sony had the unenviable task of showing up what Microsoft and Nintendo had already gotten onstage and done. Were a comedy bit by Kevin Butler and a shock appearance by Gabe Newell enough to put Sony's rivals to shame? We saw it all go down live - here's what three of our editors thought:
Mikel Reparaz, GamesRadar US
The thing you have to know, going into a Sony press conference, is that the company has a bad habit of front-loading its presentations with a lot of information that nobody but Sony, its investors and the most die-hard fanboys actually care about. They’ll get to the cool stuff soon enough, but first they’re going to ask you to sit through a few speeches about strengthening their position in the market, delivering on the promise of a 10-year system, and on and on. It’s expected, but that doesn’t make it any less deflating, particularly after Nintendo’s no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase-and-give-you-everything-you-want presser earlier this morning.
The conference started off Sony Computer Entertainment President and CEO Jack Tretton making a few subtle (and, frankly, welcome) digs at Microsoft’s poncho-themed Cirque du Soleil event from the other night, but quickly descending into the usual corporate-speak-laden opening preamble. In particular, a lot of lip service was paid to the PS3’s 3D capabilities and the upcoming arrival of Move, both of which we’d see a lot of over the course of the press conference. Incidentally, that was also the main problem with the conference: rather than wow us with a cavalcade of cool new stuff, Sony chose to fixate on faddish technology and spend a lot of time extolling its virtues.
That’s not even taking into account the time wasted telling us about a Move marketing partnership with Coca-Cola. Or the company’s outrageously ballsy approach to revitalizing the PSP brand: rather than release a new iteration of the six-year-old handheld or address any of its problems, Sony’s hired a sassy child actor to play “Marcus” and yell at us about how awesome it is.
Now that this thing's turned overwhelmingly negative, I should probably talk about the things I really liked. While the relentless focus on 3D was just a little tiresome – how many people are going to be able to buy a new Bravia in the future to take advantage of it, really? – the big-screen 3D presentations were actually pretty awe-inspiring, even if one of them (Killzone 3) was something we’d already seen. The other one was a montage of other games that’ll take advantage of the new technology, including the upcoming Sly Collection and Heroes on the Move, which – as a platformer starring Ratchet, Jak and Sly Cooper – was one of the most immediately interesting announcements of the show.
Other highlights: InFamous 2 looks awfully interesting, the new trailers for Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Dead Space 2 were great, and the arrival of Valve’s Gabe Newell – previously a vocal critic of the PS3 – nearly brought the house down, as did the fresh Portal 2 trailer he brought with him. But the brightest spot in the conference (at least for me) was the heavily rumored reveal of a new Twisted Metal, which is simultaneously brighter, more cheerful and more ridiculously violent than previous games in the series.
Probably the strangest thing about the conference was that Sony spent a lot of time showing us things we already knew about, but held back some things – like Last Guardian and Agent, for example – that we were desperately hoping to see. Call me naive, but I had hoped the cavalcade of high-profile pre-E3 leaks meant the actual reveals would be comparatively huge. What happened?
George Walter, GamesRadar UK
Sony tried to have a sense of humour for this year's press event; Jack Tretton joked about accidentally spitting on the audience in past conferences, Kevin Butler did a five minute stand-up set where he ripped into Microsoft and PSP was rebooted with a sassy kid with a big opinion of himself - it was perhaps the saving grace of a fairly low-key showing
How was it low-key? Well aside from the obvious showstoppers - a live demo of Killzone in 3D (amazing), Portal 2 for PS3 and Gabe Newell pretending to eat humble pie and kiss Sony butt (unexpected), it lacked the free consoles of the Xbox conference and the killer games of Nintendo's. It felt like it needed a big new IP announcement to get everyone talking; not a single significant first-party game was announced that we hadn't already heard of.
And who really thought it was a good idea to choose to announce a marketing deal with Coca-Cola at an ostensibly consumer-focused press event? That was never going to get applause. What about The Last Guardian? The Agent? PSP2? Starhawk? Resistance 3? Well, you know the answer.
Tim Clark, Official PlayStation Magazine UK
The first highlight for me was the Killzone 3 live demo. I'd managed to convince myself previously that 3D was going to be a bit iPaddish: Cool, but not for me yet. Seeing how much of a shift playing a shooter was, with bullets zinging towards you, changed that. New 3D Bravia? Looks like I'm eBaying that kidney after all. Also: best raging sea effects evah. The other standout was the GT5 footage. It's been in development for so long I was starting to worry the cars would've quietly evolved into planes. But it really does look as billed: Polyphony's masterpiece. Can't wait to go hands-on later.
What also struck was that, whereas once the hardware manufacturers would announce major third-party exclusives, these are now almost nonexistent. Instead, it's now a landgrab for exlcusive DLC and modes. Ultimately, that's probably better for gamers, because you don't need to miss out on experiences, but it robs the conferences of megaton pizzazz. I'd have loved to have seen first footage of Rockstar North's Agent or something new from Team Ico's The Last Guardian - but nada. Leaving Twisted Metal until last also seemed a bit odd. Maybe it's because the series wasn't such a big deal in Europe, but when the screen cut to gameplay footage it felt like the air had been sucked out of the room.
Overall though, a solid show with all bases covered. It's not about hardware cycles now, it's about platforms which expand and grow. Add on those terms, with 3D, Move, and Blu-ray built in, PlayStation 3's position looks ever more strong. But then, I would say that, right?
Jun 15, 2010
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