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Sony Press Conference Lowdown

Sony's annual E3 press conference opened with what could have been the biggest reveal of the entire show if it hadn't been leaked last week: the new $499 price of the PS3, as well as the introduction of a new $599 model that comes with an 80GB hard drive and a copy of online-enabled dirt racer Motorstorm. This left biggy-wig Jack Tretton (who began the event speaking through his character in the PS3 virtual world Home) to launch right into the publisher's game-centric, four-part presentation.

Reminding the world that there are still 118 million PS2 consoles humming away all over the world, Tretton borrowed a page from Nintendo and pointed out that the family-friendly quiz game Buzz (never heard of it? It's huge in the UK) and microphone-abusing Singstar have brought in triple-digit millions in profits. It's notable that Microsoft seems to have copied the design of the special Buzz controller exactly for its new Scene It!game.



Above: Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions gets all romantic on our asses

Moving on, Sony blasted out a PSP clip reel with 13 games, the most notable of which were Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, Silent Hill Origins, God of War: Chains of Olympus, and one surprising newcomer, Patapon. It's a whimsical sort of 2D, side-view medieval strategy game that gives you command of a handful of warriors who stomp around a silhouetted art style like that of an iPod ad, or the DS game Touch the Magic. We'd only heard the name before, but this definitely caught our eye.

Afterwards, Sony President and COO Kaz Hirai sauntered out an introduced a newly redesigned PSP - it's 1/3 lighter, 19% slimmer, and supposedly delivers longer battery life and faster loads. But more importantly than that, it now features a high-def video out (via an unidentified special cable) so you can toss your pictures, UMD movies, videos, and games up onto any TV screen you please.

It's also coming in more colors. First, a silver one that'll be packed with Daxter, a Family Guy UMD collection and a 1 GB stick for $199. And also, as explained by the one and only Chewbacca with Tretton acting as a translator, an all-white model with Darth Vader's picture on the back and a copy of Star Wars Battleground: Renegade Squadron, also for $199 and due in November. Oddly enough, in a conference filled with stuttered teleprompting and tacky, forced dialogue, the Chewbacca moment came off perfectly, with just enough "we know this is silly, but it's still fun, isn't it?" attitude.

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