E3 ’09: Sony

Jack Tretton said “2008 is the year of the PlayStation 3.”

To be honest, it wasn’t. Sure, we had Metal Gear Solid 4 and LittleBigPlanet, but neither were the top sellers they probably should have been. And with Final Fantasy XIII and the next title in the Metal Gear franchise, “Metal Gear Solid: Rising” both coming to the Xbox 360, what’s Sony’s move?

It’s rumored that a new PSP model was going to be one of their biggest announcements, but the internet got the best of them, and the PSP Go! is known almost in its entirety already, and has been for the past week.

Sony started off their year with the bang that was Killzone 2. Down the pipe we know they have the likes of God of War 3 and Uncharted 2. But will it be enough? Does the former gaming juggernaut have any earthshattering surprises up their sleeves? Will they try to jump onto the motion control bandwagon like Microsoft has with Project Natal?

It’s time to find out.

12:50 – Waiting for the Sony conference, something has occured to me. I’ve been told more than once that I look vaguely like G4’s Adam Sessler. The thought terrifies me. What do you think?

1:12 – We’re starting at last. Montage of some upcoming games. Uncharted 2, Ratchet and Clank, God of War 3, LittleBigPlanet, Heavy Rain… Some pretty big games on their way. Video is set to the musical stylings of Queen.

1:14 – Jack Tretton is on-stage, thanking God that the press showed up. Joking about press leaks and how he was worried there’d be no reason to come (referencing the afforementioned PSP Go! stuff), much to the pleasure of those in attendence. Classy.

1:17 – Claims that Sony is the only company with 3 successful systems on-sale at once, referring to the PS2, PS3 and PSP. Thing is, I think Nintendo did the same thing for at least a short while with Wii, DS and GameBoy Advance.

1:18 – Talking about the PlayStation 2. How long is it going to take until Sony finally stops talking about it? Oh, right. This is PS2 year 9, and they’re going for the whole 10-year life cycle thing.

1:19 – Over 100 new titles for the PS2 this year? Crazy.

1:20 – Talking numbers. Standard affair, but it reminds me why Microsoft’s conference was so great. It didn’t have any of this stuff. Jack is currently talking about how great inFamous is, which, sure. It’s pretty rad.

1:22 – Someone from Naughty Dog is out to talk about Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Multiplayer beta starts tonight at midnight. Going to show single-player here, now.

1:23 – The crowd is cheering as Nathan Drake scales a building. Game looks impressive graphically and seems to have some nice dialogue during gameplay. Oh look, a nice helicopter…

1:24 – Action has camped up. Gunplay is being shown. Looks standard but well done, and mixed with all this Lara Croft-like acrobatics could make for some cool situations.

1:26 – Game looks intense and pretty cinematic. Keep an eye on this one, PS3 owners.

1:27 – We’re finally going to see gameplay of MAG – Massive Action Game. 256 players simultaneously fighting a battle.

1:28 – They’ve got 256 actual players about to play this demo. Impressive.

1:29 – Looks like a pretty involved multiplayer FPS, with every player assigned to a squad (across two large teams), and a squad leader capable of giving commands to his squad. Seems to be objective-based gameplay.

1:31 – XP system a la Call of Duty 4 confirmed. Dude just got +5 EXP for killing another dude.

1:32 – Spawn points, a la Battlefield, have to be secured for attacking players to push forward toward their goal. Players (or at least squad commanders) can call airstrikes. Seems to take a lot of tactical strategy. Hopefully that won’t be an issue with so many idiots playing online. MAG will be playable on the show floor, and should be out this fall.

1:33 – Time to move to the PSP.

1:35 – The crowd is actually cheering at a pink PSP Hannah Montana bundle. They’re either jokesters or paid. Or both.

1:36 – Kaz Hirai is making his way to the stage.

1:37 – He pulled a PSP Go out of his pocket. Says it has a couple of names, the first being “Worst kept secret of E3.” Glad to see they’re light about the subject and acknowledging it.

1:38 – PSP Go has no UMD drive, and all of its games and software are download-only, somewhat like the iPhone. 50% smaller than the regular PSP. Controls slide out, like a Sidekick Slide cellphone.

1:39 – Media Go announced, which replaces the Media Manager of before. It’s a PC application that is used to transfer media to your PSP.

1:40 – Now he’s talking about some weird sounding program called “Sense Me” that analyses your music library and chooses songs for you based on the mood you select… Or something. He glossed over it really fast. Comic in Fall.

1:42 – PSP Go will be $249.99. PSP 3000 will still be $169.99. Anyone sold on Go? I’m not, personally.

1:44 – The father of Grand Turismo is coming onto the stage.

1:45 – Grand Turismo PSP announced at long last. He has it running on a PSP Go right now. The device does indeed look small, which could be nice. Says that even though the device is small, the game is a full-scale Grand Turismo experience.

1:46 – The translator seems to be reading notes the whole time, which is kind of weird.

1:47 – Tons of cars (800+) and tracks, plus content sharing. You can trade cars with friends in an attempt to “catch them all.”

1:50 – Playing a trailer of the game now. It looks like a Grand Turismo game. SURPRISE! Apparently it’s coming October 1, 2009.

1:51 – Something Metal Gear is coming. Hideo Kojima is showing up. I wonder if it feels like coming home to your family after announcing that you’re sleeping with their enemy.

1:52 – He’s not here to talk about Metal Gear Solid: Rising, though. He’s talking about a PSP game called Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker. Set 10 years after MGS3. We had heard a bit about this yesterday, so not a huge shock, but still nice.

1:53 – Kojima is writing and producing. Says it’s a true MGS sequel, not a spin-off or sidestory. So much for MGS4 being Kojima’s last Metal Gear game!

1:55 – Here’s a trailer. Kicks off with some live-action stock footage and some voice-over. Looks like the continuing adventures of Big Boss in the lead-up to Outer Heaven.

1:56 – Graphics look really sharp for a portable title. Lot’s of sneaking, so hey, it’s a Metal Gear game.

1:57 – There’s… 4 Snakes/Big Bosses/Clones on screen right now. Say what? They’re facing a Metal Gear, looks like. And the trailer ends with the infamous cardboard box antics. Coming in 2010. My interest is piqued.

2:00 – Jack is back on stage talking about… Resident Evil on PSP? Brand new, exclusive game sounds like, but… That’s all we got.

2:00 – Hannah Montana was name dropped again, and the crowd cheered again.

2:02 – Montage of upcoming PSP titles. Final Fantasy Dissidia, Monster Hunter, LittleBigPlanet, Soul Calibur and others are in the lineup.

2:05 – Time to talk PlayStation Newtork games.

2:06 – Adding over 50 PS1 classics to the service this year, starting today with Final Fantasy VII. Fanboys everywhere can rejoice.

2:07 – Talking about PlayStation Home and where it’s come since launch 6 months ago. As one of the millions that was pretty disappointed by Home, I’m not sure many in attendence care too much.

2:10 – PS3 video now. There’s Uncharted 2 again. inFamous, Madden, Final Fantasy XIII… The usual suspects. Batman: Arkham Assylum, White Knight Story and Ninja Gaiden and there too, with many more. Seems to be a solid lineup.

2:15 – Got to say, this is a long montage with tons and tons of games being shown. Not all of them are exclusive, by any means, but PS3 owners should be happy with what’s available.

2:16 – Announcing Agent, a Rockstar game that’s exclusive to the PS3. Nice move, Sony. That could be a smart move after the blunder of losing GTA.

2:17 – Ubisoft folks are on-stage to show Assassin’s Creed II. Wasn’t Ubisoft’s press conference yesterday?

2:18 – Now, I was a big fan of the original Assassin’s Creed, so I may be biased, but this sequel looks fantastic. I’m liking the new setting a lot.

2:18 – Leonardo DaVinci is one of Ezio’s “friends” that helps him become an assassin. He sounds like Bond’s “M”, providing Ezio with gadgets and weapons.

2:20 – Ezio is deadlier than Altair, the hero in the first game. And he looks it. The crowd seems impressed with deal-blade assassination.

2:21 – Italian dude was just OWNED. Assassination complete. Time to get the hell out of dodge.

2:22 – The crowd cheers as the demo ends. I’m impressed. The game launches this holiday season, along with an original PSP Assassin’s Creed title.

2:24 – A video is playing of Final Fantasy XIII. I’m a big Final Fantasy fan, but I’m kind of sick of seeing this one and just want to play it already. Still, I like the English voices being displayed here.

2:27 – Dude, WHAT? Jack just announce Final Fantasy 14?!?!?!? 13 isn’t even out yet!!!! Bir us XIII Versus. He also makes sure to say that the PS3 will be the only console it will be available on.

2:28 – Wait… This trailer is reminding me of Final Fantasy XI. The online game.

2:29 – AHA! Called it. Final Fantasy XIV: Online. Extremely less excited now. Unexcited to the point that I barely care. Interesting that it’s PS3-only, though.

2:30 – Now Sony is showing off a new motion controller. Everyone is jumping on the Wii train!

2:31 – Ok, I’ve just gotta say it… This motion controller – in its current form, which they stress will change – looks like a dildo.

2:32 – Looks like it interacts with the PlayStation Eye in order to replace the dildo device with a racket, golf club, stop sign… Maybe even a real dildo?

2:32 – Dude running the demo just said, “It’s still hard.” That’s way funnier to me than it should be.

2:34 – The technology looks cool, I’ve gotta say, but what’s gonna happen in the new war between the Wiimote, this thing, and Natal?

2:36 – “Sub-millimeter accuracy.” Accurate enough to write and draw with the little wand-dildo.

2:37 – Looks way too similar to the Wii Remote for me to be super stoked, but it does look like better technology than the Wii uses. I may have to write up my thoughts on all this motion stuff in a seperate blog.

2:39 – Fighting monsters with swords and throwing stars. Looks fun enough. Oh, bows too. It’s an archery kinda day between this and Wii Sports Resort. This one may be impressing me more.

2:41 – “PlayStation Motion Controller” coming Spring 2010. I wonder if Nintendo will launch a new Wii next year, too, to combat this and Natal.

2:42 – Talking LittleBigPlanet costumes. Disney themed. Awwww, cute little Jack Sparrow Sackboy!

2:43 – Just announced ModNation Racers. Another “Play. Create. Share.” title like LittleBigPlanet. I’m guessing you can design tracks and whatnot.

2:44 – Yeah, the character creation looks similar to LittleBigPlanet, though it’s a slightly different style. You can also customize cars, looks like.

2:46 – Real-time physics, drifting… Looks like a standard kart racer. Looks nice graphically, though, and customization could be a big draw I suppose. It’ll have to top the creation tools of TrackMania, though.

2:47 – Tracks are rendered and playable in seconds, so that’s kind of cool. The creation stuff does indeed look pretty easy and cool. You can add mountains!

2:49 – A friend just mentioned that this is basically Mario Kart meets LittleBigPlanet, and that’s pretty darn accurate. So if that sounds awesome to you, then maybe you should be excited.

2:51 – Jack is back.

2:53 – Third title in the “Ico” trilogy is known as “The Last Guardian.” Looks like the “Project Trico” footage that actually leaked awhile back, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. A lot of people have been anxiously awaiting this team’s newest title.

2:54 – For those not in the know, this game is from the people who made “Ico” and “Shadow of the Colossous” for the PS2. Very artsy (and good) games. This new game follows in the same vein in a lot of ways, with a weird furry/feathery creature and a small boy.

2:56 – Yeah, aside from the title “The Last Guardian” and maybe some touchups and new footage, this is the exact same trailer that leaked before. Oh well, it looks outstanding and very stylized in HD.

2:57 – Short tease of Grand Turismo 5 for the PS3 now. Seems like some people have been waiting for this one forever, but realistic car racing isn’t really my thing.

2:59 – GT5 looks good graphically, if this stuff is in-engine. But that’s all I can really say.

3:00 – Time for God of War 3!

3:02 – This totally looks like a God of War game, which, hey, is a good thing. They say it’s the last part of a trilogy. Really, now?

3:02 – Harpy riding!

3:03 – Did Kratos just sprout wings for a second? Other than that, it looks like pretty standard GoW gameplay. Looks very, very epic, though, and gorgeous graphically. Should easily please fans of the series.

3:05 – Confirmed: Quick-time events are back. They look better, though.

3:06 – Those interested in God of War should definitely track down a video of this gameplay demonstration when all this is done. I can’t really describe it. But it’s brutal in all the right ways.

3:07 – Coming out March 2010.

3:08 – That’s a wrap.

Pretty impressive, I’ve gotta say. Sony didn’t let leaks or Microsoft’s guns get to them. The conference went really well. We’ll have more in terms of coverage and comparisons later.

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