5 reasons why Sony nailed its E3 press conference
- Posted June 8th, 2012 at 14:17 EDT by Mike Harradence
- 24 Comments
Sony’s E3 presser has come and gone for another year, and once again, it proved as polarizing as ever. Just have a quick butcher’s at numerous Internet forums and websites and you’ll be able to digest a plethora of razor-edged critique from disgruntled gamers and died-in-the-wool optimists alike, which is where we come in with our stab at Sony’s offering. In many ways, the press conference – fronted once again by eager-to-please SCEA overlord Jack Tretton – was everything we wanted and didn’t want.
Sometimes it dazzled, other times it bedazzled, and sadly other instances it meandered. Just when Sony was on fire (and at times, momentum definitely appeared to be on its side), the platform holder descended into a laborious, yawn-inducing 15-minute chatter about some game half the audience probably wouldn’t even bother with. Other areas were conspicuously lacking, such as triple-A PlayStation Vita announcements, and even whispers on PS4. In my humble opinion though, the worst offender were leaks, killing any chance of genuine shock; a huge chunk of the stuff that was shown was either previously announced or all but confirmed in rumors and whispers in the weeks building up to the conference. Such is the pitfall of living in an era where you can read about anything before it happens, I guess.
Back to the presser, though. Were we impressed? Yes. We were also pretty underwhelmed? Yes. But let’s start with the positive.
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BEYOND: TWO SOULS
David Cage’s new project had been rumored for some time and sadly leaked mere hours before the conference took place, but even that wasn’t enough to kill off the hype. Beyond: Two Souls looks positively breathtaking, and like Heavy Rain before it, will surely challenge the preconception that some folk have regarding the status of videogames as an art form. Meticulous visuals aside, the concept sounds particularly juicy, and appears to have a touch of the supernatural about it, with the main heroine wielding some sort of telekinesis by the look of things. We’ve been waiting for Cage’s new game for a while now, and after the gorgeous Kara tech demo back at GDC, it was evident the French developer would be pulling out all the stops. And he did just that; Beyond stole the show, and floored jaws throughout the auditorium. It almost makes the agonising wait for The Last Guardian seem not like that big of a deal.
ASSASSIN’S CREED III: LIBERATION
We’re pretty miffed about the lack of PS Vita at the presser, but we’ll save that for another time. Despite this, the announcement of an all-new Assassin’s Creed spin-off, Liberation, definitely tickled our fancy, even more so considering it launches day and date with its console counterpart. Aside from looking pretty scrumptious in terms of aesthetic value, Liberation is particularly intriguing for its inclusion of a playable female assassin for the first time in the series. Furthermore, the storyline is set to crossover with Connor’s in ACIII, and we can expect a myriad of PS Vita-exclusive functions that make use of everything from the touchscreen to gyroscope. It looks every bit the quintessential Assassin’s Creed experience, with stunning vistas, open-world gameplay and meaty combat, all squeezed down to fit on PS Vita’s sharp 5-inch LED screen.
PS1 CLASSICS FINALLY COMING TO PS VITA
Okay, so this probably wasn’t going to get tongues wagging during the actual presser, but looking back, this was a great addition to the E3 line-up. Let’s face it, nostalgia sells, and many of us still love playing PS1 games, especially when you can download them on to your PS3 or PSP. PS Vita should have been able to do this out of the box, so it’s a case of better late than never, but it’s still cracking stuff. Many people don’t own a PSP, so the prospect of playing those classics on the go has obvious appeal to newcomers to Sony’s latest handheld platform, myself included. From the look of things the starting list is pretty positive too, with Final Fantasy VII and Tomb Raider kicking things off. Lovely. The best part is you don’t need to buy them twice either; if you’ve already got a PS1 title on PS3 or PSP, you’re set to go.
THE LAST OF US PLAYS AS GOOD AS IT LOOKS
Sony closed the conference in style with a sumptuous live demo of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, which up until now has been all smoke and mirrors thanks to cinematic cut-scenes and dynamic trailers. Here however, we finally got to see how the game actually plays – and boy was it worth it. Cynics have dismissed it as simply a more violent version of Uncharted, and while mechanically it seems both games share some similarities, The Last of Us is another kettle of fish altogether. The demo was positively oozing with quality, from the meticulously-crafted visuals, tense atmosphere to the visceral and brutal combat. In the section that was shown, hero Joel made his way through a dilapidated building, methodically dispatching the gun-toting baddies within. More than anything else however, is how authentic the combat was, from the wince-inducing hit animations to the fluidity of the character’s movements. When Joel smacked a goon with the stock of his Shotgun, the impact was met with a satisfying crunch. When a bad guy shot Joel in the stomach, he didn’t just grunt and shrug it off; he cried out in pain and stopped in his tracks, taking a moment to recover. We also got a brief look at the game’s inventory, which seemed jam-packed with crafting possibilities as a result of Joel’s scavenging. The game looks stunning, and Sony couldn’t have picked a better show closer. Oh, and Naughty Dog also clarified that you are able to circumvent the entire area without even throwing a punch or firing a shot.
NATE, BIG DADDY JOINS CROSS-PLATFORM ANTICS IN ALL-STARS BATTLE ROYALE
So, PS Vita didn’t get much of a showing in terms of new triple-A software, but Sony did trumpet one of the key areas of the handheld: cross-platform play. Fortunately, the company wisely took the opportunity to illustrate this functionality with the newly-announced PS Vita port of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Sure, we knew the port was coming, but it was great to hear it finally confirmed along with cross-platform play. Yep, so even if your PS Vita loving mate doesn’t own a PS3 but you both have Battle Royale, then you can still play against each other; and frankly, what better game to fly the flag for cross-platform play than a four-player brawler staring the most iconic PS characters around? Speaking of characters, Sony also confirmed that Nathan Drake will be joining the fray alongside the lumbering Big Daddy, and while the latter is a curious addition (after all, who ever thought BioShock was synonymous with PlayStation? It didn’t even arrive on PS3 until AFTER the Xbox 360), it’s still a solid, diverse cast that is only sure to further expand from now until the game’s launch.
- 3:19pm EDT - June 8th, 2012
*cue the fanboys saying that you don't "win" E3...
Newsflash, E3 is absolutely a competition.
And Sony dominated E3. Playstation Plus alone was enough. When you add all the games, there wasn't even a contest.
- 4:03pm EDT - June 8th, 2012
- 4:14pm EDT - June 8th, 2012
The big difference between Sony and MS has always been the scope of the show.
Back in 2007 when Peter Moore was working for MS he stated:
"It's always easier to promise the future than to deliver in the present"
Things haven't changed
The last of Us...2013
Beyond Two Souls...2013
Some stuff was 2012...All stars
MS also had some 2013 stuff...Gears of War, Splinter Cell with Kinect
But most emphasis was on
- 5:30pm EDT - June 8th, 2012
@3 It's also easier to milk the same franchises than to constantly innovate by pushing exciting new IPs.
Sony: Uncharted, God of War, Killzone, Resistance, inFamous, LittleBigPlanet, Gran Turismo, Heavy Rain, Demon's Souls, The Last of Us, Beyond, etc...
Microsoft: Halo, Gears of War, Forza, Fable, Halo, Gears of War, Forza, Halo, Gears of War, Halo, Fable, Forza, Halo, Gears of War, Halo, Forza, Halo, Halo...
Things haven't changed.
- 5:43pm EDT - June 8th, 2012
Great point @ Beasley2K
- 6:13pm EDT - June 8th, 2012
"Cynics have dismissed it as simply a more violent version of Uncharted"
And how wrong they are!
Look up any write-up of the 17-minute demo the press were given behind closed doors after the show, and you'll see there's a lot more to it than Uncharted, with different ways to approach it, and different consequences and dialogue depending on your actions.
I'm a huge Uncharted fan(boy), but even I'll willingly admit that the series is linear; but that's not something which bothers me at all, because the gameplay is great, and the stories fantastic. The Last Of Us, though, seems to be shaping up to be something significantly different in terms of gameplay, with much more choice in how you go about things - stealth or brute force, and with different routes through areas.
So far, it looks to be combining the best aspects of games like Metal Gear Solid (stealth or combat) and the original Resident Evil (survival horror atmosphere). And what a combination that has the potential to be! If anyone can pull that off and tie it together with a gripping story, it's Naughty Dog.
- 7:03pm EDT - June 8th, 2012
Dammit: I seem to have missed out Gears of War and Halo in my last comment.
- 7:06pm EDT - June 8th, 2012
7 to 8 of YOUR examples are, as you put it, "milked franchises".
They're the safe bets.
You forgot Alan Wake, Steel Battalion, Left4Dead, and slew of highly rated downloads like FEZ and Trials Evolution.
Things haven't changed, meaning...As we get close to 2013 MS will talk 2013 and Sony will talk 2014.
Gameoholic007 | Demented007
- 7:58pm EDT - June 8th, 2012
@8- Your going to need a bigger shovel than that.
- 8:21pm EDT - June 8th, 2012
@8 - If by 7 to 8 you mean 1 or 2 then I agree with you; I'm getting fed up of God of War, and we have enough LittlBigPlanets (personally I think LBP 1 and 2 is enough), but having said that, 2 of the entries for each of those two IPs are portable versions, which is a different market.
No I didn't forget Alan Wake or Left 4 Dead, I intentionally left those out as I was trying to emphasise the fact that Microsoft constantly milk the same 4 (albeit Fable to a lesser extent). The point is, having '7 to 8' established franshises is different to milking the same 3 or 4. It's just that Halo, Gears of War and Forza seem to be making an appearance at almost every E3. Gears of War Judgment was announced, when Gears of War 3 came out not even a year ago!
The fact is, Sony focused heavily on Beyond and The Last of Us, two brand new IPs, and will probably even announce another two new IPs next year, whereas there wasn't a single new IP from Microsoft (barring Kinect possibly).
So what if Sony talk about the future, while Microsoft are present? Look at it the other way around, while Microsoft are talking about what they're bringing to 2012, Sony will have already covered that last year! By talking about the future, Sony is showing us that we have good things ahead, we always know there are good things coming up; whereas with Microsoft, we won't know what's coming up - if they concentrate on the present, they may have a load of rubbish in the future. Sony is thinking ahead, showing us that there is always something to look forward to. We know there's still plenty to get out of the PS3. Whereas with Microsoft we don't know that. They're focusing on the present - for all we know there's a new Xbox around the corner anyway!
- 8:41pm EDT - June 8th, 2012
- 8:44pm EDT - June 8th, 2012
Also out of curiosity, what are the '7 to 8' milked examples I mentioned? I named 11 IPs, The Last of Us and Beyond being brand new, and Heavy Rain and Demon's Souls were one-offs - which immediately takes us down to 7. Gran Turismo has 5 main entries that span 3 home consoles and 15 years; and being as the last instalment took 6 years it's safe to say Gran Turismo isn't milked. inFamous has only two entries, so we can exclude that. That takes us down to 5. Uncharted, Resistance and Killzone are not milked - had a new one made an appearance this year I would have agreed with you - and LittleBigPlanet only has 2 main entries (with the PSP and Vita titles being aimed at the alternate portable market). That leaves one.
So, with the exception of those last four IPs (as I agree they are arguable), that gives us 5 maximum. But I'd say it's much closer to 1. Either way, I'd have accepted anything from 1-5, but 7-8 is just ridiculous.
- 9:50pm EDT - June 8th, 2012
Interesting definition of "milked', 3 is milked, 2 is not, and if it's on a different platform it doesn't count?
GT5 is PS3 highest selling game, let's hope ppl didn't buy the console for that game because, as you said, there has only been one this entire generation. Personally I like playing games so I'm happy to see something like Forza coming out every 2 years. There's only been 3 in almost seven years. Don't forget, 1 extra year od use on 360.
The first 2 Halo's were on original Xbox so again, only Halo 3, Reach, and a small project called ODST in 7 years.
Isn't LBP going carting? That's 3
Resistance...I've lost count
BTW, it's spring now, then comes summer, fall, and the holidays before 2012 is over...just saying,
- 11:17pm EDT - June 8th, 2012
Now I know why ND changed the look of Ellie xD because QD was already using it.
- 4:32am EDT - June 9th, 2012
Above posters have some good points.Fact of the matter is, both MS and Sony won respective to their goal.1. MS is, and in the foreseeable future, will dominate in the market for CASUAL gaming (along with Nintendo). With emphasis on Halo (every pre-teens' known franchise), and a slew of Kinect shovelware, which without a doubt, will gross more income than The Last of Us and Beyond combined, their aim is to make AS MUCH CASH AS POSSIBLE, and you know what, they are good at it.2. Sony dominated where they wanted to, innovation. They are putting their investments into exciting IP's for HARDCORE gamers, like most of us on this website. They have also started to play the catch-up game in the casual market, with Wonderbook, but it's hard to tell if they will be able to catch up in that field or not.In the end, it's difficult to say who is playing their cards better for the long term, however, for most of us here, with our hardcore gaming priorities, Sony is the clear champ.PS, PSU, you have the most pathetic login/commenting system. I have never experienced anything so $HIT since the last century.
Facelord | Facelaud
- 7:40am EDT - June 9th, 2012
It was a really nice conference but I did have higher expectations. A PS4 announcement and more Vita games would've been perfect, plus I was thinking they were waiting until E3 2012 to release PSone Classics on the Vita to leave a huge impact on everyone and get them to think they had the best E3. As it stands, I actually preferred Nintendo's E3 stuff to Sony's. The Wii U was able to blow my mind even after my opinion of Nintendo went to the gutter with the piece of crap 3DS system(I was a Nintendo fanboy until that thing). Their 3DS games may not have been impressive or surprising or anything but it's slightly better than the Vita games to release this year. The Vita games I want the most right now are pretty much just PS3 titles like Sly Cooper and Playstation All-Stars, otherwise I'd be fine with all the PSP titles I missed out on and with PSone Classics like Dino Crisis, RE2, FF9 and Grandia.
- 7:46am EDT - June 9th, 2012
I never defined milking by the number of entries in the series; more by a large amount of entries in a short amout of time. i.e. 2 games over 6 years would not considered milking compared to 3 games in 3 years. There is no specific definition of milking, it's all relative.
The point I'm trying to get across is that Microsoft seem to rely on the same 3 or 4 IPs. If Xbox had a good 7 or 8 franshises that they regularly updated with new entries, I'd be much more forgiving, but relying on the same 3 is ridiculious.
However, referring back to your original post, whether a company focuses on the future or present is irrelevant. Microsoft may have provided more in terms of what we're getting now, but at least Sony have shown that they're preparing for the future. After all, who would want an E3 where all they do is talk about 2012, only to get to the end of the year and have nothing in store for 2013?
- 8:29am EDT - June 9th, 2012
That's true...There will be other venues later to discuss 2013, there's always E3 in 2013, so the circle continues.
- 10:04am EDT - June 9th, 2012
The ONLY game i would consider being maybe a little milked is god of war. I wasnt really expecting another GOW on the ps3. I thought they were gonna wait for the PS4. How is Uncharted/Resistance milked?. They both were made to be trilogies. Just because they each have had a vita game release doesnt mean its getting milked. U dont know what "milked" means when it comes to games. Look at HALO. Now THAT is a franchise getting milked. They made crappy spinoffs with odst and halo wars just cause they felt like it. Now as far as E3 goes Sony had the best. MS's was terrible and the Wii i didnt even bother watching.
- 12:28pm EDT - June 9th, 2012
Exactly. At Gamescom, Microsoft will probably be talking about what will be coming up in 2013, the future - which is exactly what you've just been shunning Sony for. Either way, at some point, the company will have to start talking about what's coming out in the future, rather than what's coming out immediately. Not everything can be in-the-moment. Yes, it is easier to "promise the future". But when Sony is a company that constantly delivers, that never seems to be a problem. If, however, Sony constantly informed us of things that would happen, yet consistently failed to come to any actual output, then there'd be a problem. But as long as they always deliver on their promises, Sony can promise all they want.
And yes, I agree the God of War series is starting to get milked. I found the original trilogy rather lacklustre, I'm yet to play the portable entries, but I feel Ascension is really not necessary. They've concluded the main trilogy, and I feel it could have been a lot better, but I think they should move on to a new IP, even if it's of a similar concept. I'm hoping this is just Santa Monica's attempt to end with a bang before finally killing off the series.
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