The SCEA Press Conference was broadcast on the TV and internet. Many people saw what Sony has in store for us at E3. And by god it was awesome. Not everyone gets a chance to attend these as they are invite only. The experience is that much greater when you are sitting right in front of the big names in gaming. I was astounded that I made it this far in my career as a video game journalist. As I sat in my seat, with pen and paper in my hand, my eyes were glued to the stage waiting for the next announcement, I could not help but shed a tear because ever since I was a kid watching E3 on G4, I would say to my mother “I am gonna go there some day”. Well past me, I have made it, and this year, I am doing it right.
My E3 journey has begun with the Sony Press Conference that was held at the Los Angeles Sports Memorial Arena. Upon checking in I was able to mingle with people in the industry. Even shook hands with a few higher ups. Nothing prepared me for what I was about to do when I heard “The doors are open”. As I entered the arena I was greeted by a massive screen that featured people playing Uncharted 3, Sorcery, and Twisted Metal. Moments later, the lights dimmed, and the intro video showcasing Sony’s biggest hits in gaming ran in a fast paced fashion that made my heart skip a beat.
As the CEO of SCEA stepped out he greeting those in attendance and those at home with gratitude that the gamers keep Sony alive in the gaming industry. After his thank you, he treated everyone in attendance with a free year of PlayStation Plus. Upon extending his gratitude he introduced the first guest for the press conference, Quantic Dream.
Quantic Dream is known for their best selling 2010 PS3 exclusive title, Heavy Rain. Last year they had a tech demo showcasing their new 3D modeling technology, Kara. Their newest title uses that system, and it is “Beyond” anything you could imagine in a video game. Beyond is Quantic Dream’s newest endeavor for the PS3 and they had a lot to show that made me want more. Beyond promises a new way to tell a story. It will hinge on character development and the actions this young woman takes. She is not alone, Jodie Holmes is a girl with a gift, she can speak with others from another world, people, that have long since left their mortal lives. Playing Jodie Holmes is Ellen Paige. You may know her from Juno and Inception. Her body and face is motion capped so that she can be in the game.
I am not one to gush on graphics. But Beyond was displayed in real time. It was not a prerendered cutscene and my jaw hit the floor. I questioned the validity that this was in game not not live action. The facial expressions, brilliant voice acting, and fluid movement added to the feeling of Beyond. Beyond will touch on what happens with life after death and the ability to communicate with the lost and vengeful souls trapped in a state of purgatory. If the story is anything as polished as Heavy Rain, it will be one of the best games to ever be released.
Following Quantic Dream’s announcement, we get a little more information and a demo of Sony’s “controversial” new title, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. While the confirmed characters are Sweetooth, Sly Cooper, Kratos, PaRappa, Fat Princess, and Mael Radec; Sony decided to showcase the main gameplay. The idea is to land combos and special moves to fill up your characters’ special meter. Once this is full you will be able to unleash a devastating special attack. Sweetooth gets his Ice Cream Truck Mech as a level 3 special meter. Fat princess rides her fat chicken to KO her enemies. Upon Koing your enemies you gain points. Before the demo, Sony intends on making the Vita better. How? By adding cross play with their games. A Vita version of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale was confirmed and the demo was played with two people on Vita and two on PS3. That was not the end for PSASBR, two new characters were announced. Nathan Drake of the Uncharted series and the Big Daddy from Bioshock will be in the game. This further confirms that not every character will be a Sony exclusive character, widening the chances of a large roster.
Following up with more reasons to get a Vita is the interactive playability with the PS3. Little Big Planet 2 is one of the most played PS3 exclusives and Sony has decided to make it better by allowing cross platform simultaneous play. Similar to the cross play with PSASBR, players will be able to play LBP2 with their friends while connected to the PS3. This is something that offers a new way to play games and it will only help the Vita. A short announcement was made regarding downloadable titles on PlayStation Network. Soon, more PSOne classics will be Vita compatible in the year of 2012. This includes the original Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy.
Yet another short announcement took place. Call of Duty is getting a chance on the Vita, and it will be the first AAA FPS title on the handheld. CoD: BO: Declassified will be Vita exclusive. That is all the information given about the title.
Ubisoft has been busy lately. Pushing the Assassin’s Creed series out as well as Far Cry 3, there will not be a shortage of funds in their bank. Newly announced as a Vita exclusive title is Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation. Featuring the first female assassin as the main character the game looks promising. Unlike Connor on the console AC3 she is an assassin in the America Colonial Army rather than a Native American like Connor. There will be a cross link between AC3 and Liberation with the PlayStation 3 and Vita. You will be able to unlock character skins, weapons and much more when you import your save data. Not only that, but AC3:L will be bundled with the brand new Chrystal White PlayStation Vita. It will be released the same day as AC3 on October 30th.
After the Liberation announcement Ubisoft came out detailing a new gameplay mechanic, naval combat. Taking on the role of Connor you will have instances of being captain of a ship. You will pilot this ship and shoot down enemy boats. The demo looks fantastic and a new weather system that can turn the calmest of seas into a raging typhoon no two encounters will be the same.
New Far Cry 3 information was announced featuring a demo with four player Co-Op, a map editor and exclusive PS3 DLC. The Co-Op has its own campain, as the lead developer said, “We are working on two games”. While the early gameplay mechanics have shown that your health regenerates and you can get buffs that make it regenerate faster, the title seems like a modern FPS. It looks pretty, but I get the impression the game will pretty much play itself.
After being done with Far Cry and the Vita news, it was time to move onto the PlayStation Move. The “Wii knockoff” as so many people have called it is getting a new peripheral, a book. Yes books still exist but not in this way. Using augmented reality Wonderbook will allow people to interact with their favorite stories like Red Riding Hood and Jack in the Beanstalk It is 100% interactive and you can even change the story around. This was only the beginning. You may know of a author known as J.K. Rowling. She has a new story for Potter fans with Book of Spells. Players will use the Wonderbook add on with the PS Move to learn and cast different spells from the Harry Potter universe. There will be a variety of puzzles and minigames to unlock more about the history of Harry Potter and the wizarding world.
Next up was more God of War footage. A small section of God of War: Ascension was played and it featured the thing that matters most, the single-player. The addition of multi-player is rather bullocks and I wish competitive MP never entered a franchise that does NOT need it. The single-player looks fantastic. The combat looks the same with the addition of flashier kills and combos. The release date was also revealed to be March 12, 2013. A long ways away, but it will probably be worth it.
Now onto the main event. The real reason why people attended the press conference, The Last of Us. A demo was played of the Naughty Dog game and this game will amaze anyone who sees it. I am not one to get too excited for games but the mechanics being implemented into the gameplay are something to behold. The survival element is there. Once of the best features was the ability to go into your backpack and use items such as cloth and whiskey to make a molotov cocktail. What makes this game so great is the atmosphere and the ability to adapt to an ever changing environment. It seems as though nothing is scripted and the way the two survivors act in unison is something to behold. Out of bullets? Good thing that girl picked up a brick and yelled “HEY ASSHOLE!” and chucked it at the armed assailant. This gave you opportunity to rush up and slam his head into the wall and dresser. Many other elements such as close combat get intense and cinematic. You really feel the tension of the fight. I have never experienced something like that from a video game demo.
Well that about wraps up the SCEA Press Conference for E3. It was awesome and Sony pulled out yet another great presentation despite the struggling Vita sales. I look forward to playing some of these games on the E3 Show Floor.