E3 2011: Editor impressions of the Sony press conference

Last night’s Sony press conference gave us a lot to chew on. The deeper look at the PlayStation Vita (nee NGP) was significant, as was its $249 starting price point. Not all of the news was so positive, of course, but good or bad, I’ve compiled some personal reactions to the event here, as well as some thoughts from PlayStation: The Official Magazine Editor-in-Chief Gary Steinman.

Sony’s getting better at PR

Prior to the show, there was a lot of speculation about how Sony would address its lengthy, massive and now infamous network outage – or if it would even acknowledge it at all. Would we get a lame joke? A jab at Sony’s detractors? Pompous self-praise over the network’s restoration?

In the end, we got something much better: an apology. Not one that sought to deflect blame or attention, but a seemingly heartfelt, humble and direct appeal to Sony’s customers for forgiveness. “You are the lifeblood of the company,” said SCEA’s president and CEO, Jack Tretton, addressing PlayStation consumers. “Without you, there is no PlayStation, and I want to apologize both personally and on behalf of the company for any anxiety that we’ve caused you. I know we took you away from doing what you enjoy most ... and it is you that both causes us to be humbled and amazed at the amount of dedication and support you continue to give to the PlayStation brand.”

It was a surprising moment, and while it had a little too much corporate-speak about how great the PlayStation brand is doing at market, it was good to see Sony actually own up to its missteps. Also good: the conference kept chatter about sales figures and brand cohesion to a minimum this year.

It’s also getting a lot better at pricing

The other big surprise of the night was, of course, the price of the PlayStation Vita. The memory of the PS3’s $600 launch price is still relatively fresh, and when the Vita’s impressive suite of features was first announced, a lot of us expected that we’d be asked to fork over $400-500 for the thing. Shockingly, Sony actually priced it competitively, announcing that the basic, WiFi-enabled model would retail for $249 this holiday, the same price as a Nintendo 3DS. And the 3G model wasn’t far behind, clocking in at $299. So that’s great.

Of course, when Kaz Hirai announced that AT&T would be the Vita’s exclusive 3G carrier, a chorus of boos went up through the stands, only to slowly die out and be replaced by embarrassed applause. Can’t have everything, I guess.

PSVita is shaping up to be a badass machine

I got a bit of hands-on time with the Vita after the conference. It’s lightweight, its second analog stick makes an enormous difference in 3D games, and while the touchpad on the back made it easy to accidentally activate game features just by grabbing the system wrong, it’s an extremely powerful little piece of hardware. Demos of Ruin and WipeOut 2048, running side-by-side with their PS3 counterparts, looked maybe not quite as impressive as their larger cousins, but nearly as. And Uncharted: Golden Abyss, which leveraged seemingly every new feature the Vita had to offer, was a blast for the duration of its 10-minute demo; it turns out that being able to trace a path for Nathan Drake to follow using the touchscreen is just as fun, if not more so, than guiding him across ledges manually. And if you don’t like it, you can still play the old way.

Also impressive was the PS3/PSV connectivity, which in WipeOut 2048’s case allowed for PSV and PS3 players (with WipeOut HD or Fury) to race against each other on WipeOut HD tracks. Again, the visuals weren’t quite on par, but the actual racing worked beautifully.

Sly 4’s finally, officially confirmed

Sure, we kind of already knew Sly 4 was coming, but it’s difficult to consider a shadowy teaser trailer, released without fanfare or comment on the Sly Collection disc, as an “official” announcement. Now that we’ve got full confirmation from Sony, however, it’s a bittersweet moment, as original Sly developer Sucker Punch isn’t working on the project. Instead, developer Sanzaru Games – which worked on the Sly Collection and Ninja Reflex – will handle Sly’s return to action. We’re not saying Sanzaru can’t do a good job with the franchise, but after six years of Sly being mostly ignored by Sony, we can’t help being skeptical of anyone but his creators handling the project.

Oh well, at least the trailer looks interesting.

Above: Dmitri for the win

Resistance 3 deserved a better showing


The St. Louis gameplay segment from Resistance 3 that Insomniac decided to show was probably a lot of fun, but it wasn’t much to look at. In fact, it was unexciting, underwhelming and even a little confusing, and the highlight was a Chimera getting bashed in the head by a ragged resistance fighter. And that’s a pity, because on the occasions we’ve played bits of Resistance 3, it’s actually been a lot of fun, with varied gameplay, swarming enemies and weapons that are enjoyable to shoot. Sadly, the press-conference demo made it look like just another shooter, albeit one with a giant monster at the end.


E3 Sony

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  • Cloud1Fair3 - June 8, 2011 3:29 p.m.

    Well, you can bash Sony. But at least there conference was better than Microsofts. Ooo look I can call out names on mass effect 3 with the kinect, glad I got that device. As for psp bashing. ? Has nobody owned a psp for more than a month here? It's an awesome machine and I use it to play rpgs all the time since my ps3 is lacking in good ones. Plus, 4 hour layover in airport=psp time, so enjoy your lame ds iterations of Kingdom Hearts, I think I'll play BBS. Suck one DS owners. (Although, I kinda want a 3ds>PSVita because of zelda and mario, but I'll stay strong till I see which system has better gaming options).
  • FVHound - June 8, 2011 8:58 a.m.

    Honestly, I enjoyed it. I mean I will admit the game's Line up was nothing too spectaculuar, but it's kind of been like that for a while. I'm not a fan of move, but the game they showed, medi-evil what-it-was, Actually looked really fun. On the fly weapon changing, smashing a sword around, NINJA STARS. I mean if the game was preloaded on the Ps3, if I was bored, and if I owned a move packadge, I'd definitely play it for fun. The 3D Tech, Honestly i was interested too, I don't expect most others too, but it's afforadable price made me want to give it a go. Psvita Looked fantastic, Hopefully the touch system will find some unique ways in being used, but the available tech looked better than the 3DS Launch. That being said it is early days. A lot of people clearly may not agree with me, but the press conference actually made me more keen for move, it made me consider 3D (something which I did not expect) and it made my dick hard for Vita. ...metaphoricallu speaking of course... I haven't seen the microsoft conference, but from what I heard, I'm better off not watching.. Only thing Sony needed this year? New exclusives. returning of old classics, and maybe a few more decent move titles. (That last one's a big ask I know, but I don't think it's impossible for move to be fun)
  • Poffle - June 8, 2011 8:36 a.m.

    I was hoping for a South Park BP episode apology. "We're sorry." with Tretton sitting in his pants in front of a fire.
  • PeptoTurismo - June 8, 2011 6:48 a.m.

    The Sly 4 trailer looks "interesting?" From what I see here, it looks exactly, EXACTLY the same as the first three games(although I'll admit I haven't played #3--probably don't need to). The games certainly aren't bad, and the graphics are cool, but compared to Jak and Ratchet they're just not
  • secretsearcher - June 8, 2011 6:03 a.m.

    Also, it sounds like they are using the original voice actors for Sly 4 This is good. But Sucker Punch is not involved... This is worrisome. :/
  • secretsearcher - June 8, 2011 5:49 a.m.

    SLy 4 = only reason I paid any attention to Sony this year
  • spawny0908 - June 8, 2011 1:15 a.m.

    After seeing Sony's conference I can only think 3 words: SLY FUCKING COOPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! .....*ahem* That is all
  • pimpdaddie - June 8, 2011 1:04 a.m.

  • JoeMasturbaby - June 8, 2011 12:45 a.m.

    Sly 3 was so bad i couldnt bring myself to finish it. I'm very skeptical of a new one unless its created as a successor to Sly 2 instead of 3.
  • Amnesiac - June 8, 2011 12:34 a.m.

    Yeah, Sony's show was pretty damn mediocre. Say what you will about Vita looking awesome, but the Uncharted demo was all kinds of unimpressive, and did you see the lag while they were demoing ModNation Racers!? That was pretty disconcerting. And at this point the lack of TLG has gone from annoying to worrying. How long before we see something concrete? That said, Sony is finally releasing a handheld with a competitive price point, so good on 'em for that.
  • Spybreak8 - June 8, 2011 12:34 a.m.

    Well I'll say this, the big three all stuck to their guns; Microsoft with their Kinect, Sony with their Move/3D and Nintendo with their well Wii name. I think we all got good news, some ok news and some oh god stop talking news lol.
  • monkeywolf - June 7, 2011 11:58 p.m.

    @jmcgrotty Please....Give this man a medal he deserves it!
  • Yeager1122 - June 7, 2011 11:57 p.m.

    Really liked the price of the Vita and Sony defintley did a better job than Micrsoft way to much kinect in that one.
  • jmcgrotty - June 7, 2011 11:20 p.m.

    I think I have said all this elsewhere, so no reason really to repeat myself... but I will anyway. Of course, I say all of this with zero hands-on time, I admit. First and foremost, you can't not mention the single best quote in years. After Kaz Harai ripped on Trentons tie, and Trentons follow-up was "I can't believe Kaz made fun of my tie. I'm tempted to bust out that Ridge Racer line, but I like my job too much." While I love Kevin Butler, that line alone made it better this year than last year. "In the end, we got something much better: an apology. Not one that sought to deflect blame or attention, but a seemingly heartfelt, humble and direct appeal to Sony’s customers for forgiveness" Bullcrap. Personally, I am 100% rational and I know that the PSN problem amounted up to absolutely nothing but a sidenote story. It is irrelevant. That being said, if you feel you have to address the issue, you better damn well have a better response than what Sony did say in their press conference. Unacceptable. Can we PLEASE not call it the PSV? Vita is just one letter more and I can't help but think "Wow, they talked about the Playstation 5?! No. Just call it Vita. Please. Overall, Vita looks like a trainwreck and it has no chance of success. They really should not have shown the Uncharted demo, because that was a mess. It was awkward, sloppy, not-as-accurate as I would hoped and just plain pathetic. Touch screens DO NOT work. All the 3D coverage made me embarassed for Sony. It's a dead tech no matter how hard they try to show otherwise. That being said, the tech behind 1 tv screen showing 2 separate images, that is very cool. Move really is already irrelevant. While I get on them for other cases where they keep pushing dead tech, I don't mind the Move coverage happening, just because it is easy to phase out. They need to give up motion control and they know it. Overall, the whole presentation just basically bored me. Looks like 2011 is going to be a VERY easy year to afford everything I want to buy. I put the number of interesting titles for all systems combined at 1. Maybe 2.
  • ThinkingWithPoodles - June 7, 2011 10:49 p.m.

    As far as the name goes, yes it's a little cheesy but you could call it the PSWarts and it would still sound better than Wii U
  • ThinkingWithPoodles - June 7, 2011 10:47 p.m.

    "What now Jeremy?" "Nice shot Jeremy." "I speak in mono-tone Jeremy." I think that Jeremy could become the new 'meme' for E3.
  • Gameguy94 - June 7, 2011 10:42 p.m.

    Can't they just call it a PSP2? What the fuck is this Vita shit? It means life? Lame. I'm being negative, but I must say Sony did put on a great show. Microsoft's was great until they showed all of their Kinect crap. The price of the Vita(THAT FUCKING NAME!) was also good to hear. It was also great seeing Ken Levine and his announcement of a portable Bioshock. I need to see Nintendo's see what they did.
  • twinkletitsMcGee - June 7, 2011 10:40 p.m.

    the only thing about the handheld is it seems like it's gonna do the same as psp. At announcement everyone say "wow it's powerful and looks so nice" but a couple of years later everyone is tryng to sell the ones they bought at launch because they realise it's not very good. Sony has a horrible history with handhelds and idon't see this changing soon
  • Hdfisise - June 7, 2011 10:14 p.m.

    I wonder if it would be possible to pair a PS3 and a PSVita to offer the same experiences as the Wii U. If so Sony could beat Nintendo to the market kinda
  • markeywo - June 7, 2011 10:10 p.m.

    The conference has given me a lot to think about. I still don't think I will be picking up a Vita, as I feel the 3DS just offers more. Let's face it, apart from LBP, Sony's first party handheld games are nothing to get excited over. I agree with the other comments, in the sense that the Microsoft was a giant Kinect plug, although I like the look of the Wii U, but I wish they had made a proper return to the hardcore gamers. Japan seems to have owned the show as far as I'm concerned.