Sony Keynote Review: E3 2012

So with Microsoft’s blistering beige-fest out of the way, next up, at the unholy hour of 2am, came Sony. Historically speaking, Sony’s conferences have caused me to drift heavily in and out of consciousness, making their keynotes unsuitable for people who are pregnant, or plan on operating heavy machinery. So imagine my preconceptions when the Playstation proprietor attempts to bore my eyelids off at two in the morning, whilst the rest of my body is desperately pleading with me for sleep. But I don’t listen to it. Oh no.

Surprisingly I managed to stay awake, and even more surprisingly, nobody died as a result. Here’s the low down. Riiiidge racer.

SO, following a montage video, of which there have been hundreds that, for all I can remember, could have been the same frame for frame, good old Captain Apology stumbles on stage, twiddling his thumbs and once again looking like he’s come to tell you he’s just run over your cat. Jack Tretton, everybody!

He starts by telling us that if that generic cut and paste video featuring decade-old characters didn’t get our heart pumping, then we’d come to the wrong place. There’s lots of rustling as thirty seven people get up to leave.

After twittering on monotonously for a few minutes, Jack turns his attentions to the infamous Kaz Hirai, who is sat in the audience and looks like he’s secretly yearning to put his head in his hands and sob. He bats back an ‘I love you man’ with an awkward, over-zealous smile and a nervous glance about as if to say to his peers, I’m not really friends with this guy.

ANYWAY, onto the main event, and the first one out the door is the much-rumbled, latest entry from Quantic ‘Heavy Rain’ Dream. Beyond: Two Souls is the name of the game, and it looks pretty flipping nice, although whether it’ll overcome the niggles that plagued Heavy Rain, or the drugs that the writer of Fahrenheit took half way through development, remains to be seen. Undoubtedly it’s looking visually face-melting, with non-melting in game faces looking BETTER than L.A. Noire.

The big reveal came in the form of Hollywood star Ellen Page, announced as playing the main character. In the trailer we’re shown, she sits stone cold still for four minutes and says nothing at all. Then there’s a splurge of action in which telekinesis appears to play a prominent role, certainly in blowing things up and lobbing coffee mugs about, and we’re done. Nice.

Super Smash Playstation Brothers is up next, as we watch what can only be described as Smash Bros. with Playstation characters. No really. I mean ‘only’. There are no other words for this. I’ve never really understood how a developer or publisher can be happy putting out something that’s got GUESS WHERE WE GOT THIS IDEA FROM stamped all over it. Playstation Allstars Battle Royale, as it’s more commonly known, features cross-platform play with the Vita and includes, astonishingly, Nathan Drake as a character. Also revealed today is Bioshock’s Big Daddy playable in the game.

After waking up, I’m greeted to a string of announcements which border on the vaguely interesting. A new Cross Controller feature will allow the Vita to be used as the pad for a selection of games, and will no doubt be the basis of Sony’s answer to the Wii U, providing a second screen to supplement the on-screen action. Whilst Ninty’s new console is still a little questionable, it certainly seems Sony and MS are crawling over each other to make a rebuttal. Similar to the motion controls fad they’re both desperately plagiarising several years too late.

Playstation Plus is next to receive an upgrade, immediately following the conference Plus subscribers were gifted the opportunity to download yet more games they might not like! That said, the collection they slapped up on the big screen was by far the most impressive they’ve given away yet, featuring older sandbox Just Cause 2 as well as last year’s excellent Infamous 2 and Little Big Planet 2. Following this we hear that Playstation One Classic’s are finally being made available for the Vita, Final Fantasy VII and Tomb Raider being amongst the examples. Hooray, old games!

Call of Duty gets announced for the Vita, which is revealed in nothing more than a name and a logo, causing people with Vitas in the room to start throwing them, and a hail of three hundred pound machines barrage the stage as Jack Tretton disappears beneath a relentless maniacal laugh.

Okay that didn’t happen, but post show reactions certainly point to immense disappointment following the oversight that was pretty much forgetting about the Vita for this show.

After Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, a portable-specific side story to the main game, is announced for the Vita, the producers of the console release take to the stage to talk about the full game, revealing an utterly spectacular looking ship vs ship sea battle section that requires you take command of a boat and a crew and inevitably sing the Pirates of the Caribbean theme as you wage naval war. There hasn’t a pirate game for ages. We need a really gritty, sharply written pirate game that involves both land and sea frivolities. Somebody should hire me; I’ll be the creative director. Ubi? Come on, I’m good.

Far Cry 3 is to follow, as four player co-op is shown off. And by shown off, I mean relentlessly jammed down our faces. Co-op and social aspects are somehow massively important features these days. I don’t have any friends Ubisoft, I don’t like anybody enough to play with them.

That’s a lie.

As four players jump in to the game, in true E3 style, they all take it far too seriously, and the whole situation becomes embarrassing and cringe-worthy and hilarious. Personally, I’m finding it difficult to be excited about Far Cry 3. Whilst the first game was a real leap in its day, the second seemingly failed to implement all those good ideas in an enjoyable package. Far Cry 3 looks pretty, but who knows. Respawn will reserve judgement till we’ve played it. Aren’t we nice.

So getting on, another big reveal for Sony this conference is WONDERBOOK. Which is a book. That uses augmented reality to make things happen on screen. Coo. The big hitter for this new (well… newish) tech is The Book of Spells, straight from the Potter universe, allowing you to read spells and learn to cast them, all the while looking like you’re holding a real wand, when in fact, you’re holding a very questionable looking controller with a lightbulb on the end. No doubt this’ll charm the muggles off Harry Potter fans, but is this really a big innovative leap? The trailer mentioned the sentiment, ‘what if a book could transport you to different worlds and have those worlds come to life’. Worryingly, that’s exactly what books ALREADY DO. There’s nothing wrong with reading, Sony. Reading and books are fine. Leave them alone.

So onto the home streak as Playstation Suite gets renamed Playstation Mobile, and for some reason everybody thinks that deserves a clap. Perhaps out of sheer desperation of wanting to be impressed by something.

God of War Ascension, the one we all knew was coming looks brilliant, if a little on the same-old-God-of-War side. Not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s yet another sequel in a room full of sequels. Undoubtedly one of the biggest games of the show, and it gets a release date of 12 March 2013 at the end of it too! Hooray.

And finally, The Last of Us wraps up as the best of the Sony show for us here at Respawn. We’re shown a snippet of gameplay that accentuates Joel’s relationship with Ellie, and the kind of survival elements you’ll be up against. This largely seems to be Uncharted with more grounded mechanics in a post-apocalyptic, everything’s-broken sort of world, and oddly enough it seems to pull it off. Massively immersive, with the demo plunging us into panic as Joel runs out of ammo, excitement when Ellie throws something in the face of the last baddie and brutal action in the following struggle, finishing it off with a delicious bullet sandwich for that henchman. Undoubtedly a highlight of the PS3’s upcoming exclusive titles, we’re very excited to get our hands on The Last of Us.

And there we have it, ‘the best is yet to come’ apparently, which is a foolish move if ever I’ve heard one. Jack saunters off and leaves the attendees to bimble about awkwardly whilst I get some sleep. You know what, that was a fair effort from Sony this year, tripping over a few of the same old pot holes, but generally a ton more engaging than Microsoft’s earlier effort. Onto Nintendo for the final SHAKEDOWN then.

 

Rob Vicars
@Rob Vicars

Author Description

Rob Vicars

Rob is a writer, wearing many hats that do not belong to him. When not scribbling ardently for his games blog Respawn in... 5, he pretends to be a musician, a videographer, a game developer and an alright guy.

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