E3 08: The Most Excruciating Moments

Just because Sony has the fewest number of excruciating moments here doesn’t mean we enjoyed their conference any more than Nintendo's or Microsoft's. Rather, the energy was so low and the pace was so glacial that the opportunities for folly and failure were less, simply by default. Fear not, however, for they still managed to squeeze a few in.

Jokes about dead people always kill

You're speaking in front of thousands of hardcore gamers, starving for news about the PlayStation 3. What more appropriate way to start the show than by making a lame joke at a dead guy's expense? Better yet, a dead actor who has nothing to do with games and whose last remotely recognized film was City Slickers II? And then - even though the audience almost turned on you the first time - try the whole thing again 45 minutes later.

Classy and appropriate.

Public speaking 101

Jack Tretton, Sony America's President and CEO, has never been known as the best showman in the gaming industry. His performance at E3 2008 did nothing to change that reputation. A lot of the speakers at Microsoft and Nintendo came across as smarmy, condescending or just plain fake, but at least they tried to act excited and tried to memorize their lines beforehand.

Jack Tretton probably tried too. He just didn't succeed. See for yourself below.

Resistance 2 to feature stairs, stairs and more stairs

Don't get us wrong - overall, the press conference demo for Resistance 2 was spectacular. Shooting rockets down the gaping gullet of a skyscraper-sized behemoth that makes Godzilla look like a gecko? Sign us up.

These things are supposed to be carefully orchestrated for maximum entertainment, however, so we're flabbergasted that the developers chose a section of gameplay featuring so many stairs. Not crumbling, burning, monster-strewn stairs, but boring, repetitive, never ending stairs. A full minute of stairs.

Yeah, the huge creature was still outside the building, but his vaguely felt presence didn't make climbing a gazillion set of stairs any more intense or appealing.

Don't blame us, these games you kids play all look the same

Perhaps the worst single flub of the conference (Nintendo's break-up with the core gamer is more of a litany of sins) came when Sony's PSP sizzle reel included footage of an upcoming strategy RPG called Valkyria Chronicles. Admittedly, the game looked phenomenal - almost too good to be a PSP title. Which makes perfect sense, considering it's actually coming out on PlayStation 3, not PSP.

Unfortunately, quick follow-up questions by the press confirmed our worst fears. By including the footage on the PSP reel, Sony was not revealing a PSP version of what really does look like a great game. It was, in fact, pointing out that it is unaware on a corporate level (seriously, how many Sony people saw that reel before the public? Fifty?) as to what games are coming out on its various platforms.

On the bright side, we got Tretton to bet us $100 that the PS3 version of Gears of War 2 would score higher than the 360 one, so the confusion wasn't all bad.

Jul 17, 2008