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E3 2012 – Sony Sticks To Their Exclusive PS3 Strengths, Disappoints with Vita

Sony’s E3 2012 press conference was surprisingly short and sweet compared to past years because they decided to stick to their gaming strengths. While Microsoft’s conference earlier today was heavily media-focused, Sony went straight to the point and showed off game after game, which was most of their first-party lineup for the next year. They had some surprises ready to be revealed tonight, but in typical Sony fashion, some of those details got leaked earlier today. Their PS3 lineup is still solid from fall to winter 2013, but they didn’t answer the one major issue I wanted them to address, the Playstation Vita. I personally felt they didn’t do enough to persuade consumers to get a Vita despite their new announcements and there are still a lack of games seen on the handheld. Despite that, Sony’s big first-party exclusives were the stars of the show from the beginning to the end of the conference.

Jack Tretton returned as the host of tonight’s conference and Sony started off right away showing off a new game from Quantic Dream, the developers of Heavy Rain. David Cage was on stage to present Beyond: Two Souls, a new emotional and thrilling experience starring Ellen Page as protagonist Jodie Holmes. The scene shown was of a police officer asking to help Jodie before SWAT comes and attempts to capture her. Jodie mysteriously disappears, but later kills SWAT guys and controlling enemies after escaping. Since it is by Quantic Dream, the game looks amazing graphically. Unfortunatley, no date has yet been announced for Beyond: Two Souls, but late next year seems like a good bet to me.

Next up were the guys at Superbot Entertainment with Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. It is not surprising that a Vita version was finally announced for release in conjunction with the PS3 version since it has been rumored for weeks. The Superbot folks demoed the cross-competitive play between the two versions and were able to play a single match with four players. If you have seen the game before in previous occasions, it still looks the same as it was when it was first announced a couple months back. Two new characters were also announced after the demonstration, Uncharted’s Nathan Drake and the Big Daddy from BioShock. Speaking of cross-compatible features between the PS3 and Vita, Tretton announced cross-play for LittleBigPlanet2 and the Vita port of LittleBigPlanet in a future update.

Even though Sony announced more features such as PS1 classics, YouTube, Crackle, and Hulu Plus for the Playstation Vita, their fall lineup is still a little unclear even now. A new Call of Duty is still coming this holiday season for the handheld, now called Black Ops: Declassified. There are no new details regarding how this title is different from Black Ops 2, other than the fact it is still coming. Another big third-party franchise is also coming to the Vita this fall, which is Assassins Creed. Assassins Creed III: Liberation takes place in Louisiana and stars a female assassin this time around. Exclusive DLC was also announced for the Vita version if connected with Assassins Creed III, in which a new naval level was shown off. In addition, bundles were announced for both both Assassins Creed games for their respective platforms. In terms of third parties, Ubisoft was pretty much the only one there with demos of Assassin's Creed and four-player co-op of Far Cry 3.

Sony did not spend much time on Playstation Network and Playstation Plus other than mentions of certain games like The Unfinished Swan and Retro City Rampage and the announcement that Plus members will be getting more free games starting tomorrow. The only big announcement media-wise from Sony was that Android phones will soon support Playstation Mobile, formerly known as Playstation Suite. HTC is the first partner for the service with more to be announced soon. At least this announcement was better than last year’s AT&T mention concerning the Vita’s 3G support. For those expecting price drops for the PS3 and the Vita, keep waiting, since Jack didn’t mention anything regarding their current price points.

The Playstation Move’s only moment in the spotlight during Sony’s conference was in a new children's game called Wonderbook. The game will require the Move to interact with books via augmented reality. One of the big backers for this game is J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, and the original book she created for Wonderbook is called "Book of Spells." Another supporter of the project is Moonbot Studios, who made interactive books on phones and tablets. It was a little weird seeing Sony being the only conference today to feature games solely for children, as you would expect Microsoft to do that with new Kinect games. Wonderbook is slated to launch this fall only for Playstation 3.

Sony ended their conference tonight showcasing their two biggest games of the show, God of War: Ascension and The Last of Us. The campaign in the latest God of War adventure stars none other than Kratos and appeared to be your typical God of War game. Lots of gore, Kratos bringing in old and new moves, and intense battles against huge enemies are among what to expect in a new God of War. I do like the omission of HUD and Kratos' new abilitiy to use any weapon sitting around the area to his advantage instead of sticking with his standard chained blades. Todd Papy of Sony Santa Monica revealed the release date for the game following the demo was over, which is now March 12, 2013.

Last but not at least was Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us which, as I predicted in my E3 preview, was the game of the show. This is the first gameplay footage of the game for the public to see and it already looks amazing. Joel and Ellie’s team dynamics are great to see in action; especially Ellie, who provides a good distraction from throwing a rock at an enemy to stabbing someone from the back when Joel is in trouble. I also love how it is more survival-based, compared to Uncharted, and gives players limited gadgets and a health bar with kits to collect than the typical rechargeable health found in most shooters today. The game is also very mature with characters cursing at each other and gore you didn’t expect out of Naughty Dog. The Last of Us is still planned for a fall release exclusively for PS3 and is already making a good impression to me and those who haven’t seen it until today.

That is pretty much it for Sony’s E3 2012 Press Conference as their PS3 first party lineup remains to be top notch from the new Quantic Dream game to The Last of Us. I am disappointed, however, with how the Vita was handled tonight. Even though a Vita version of Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale was finally shown off, they didn’t announce enough big games to get people excited for the handheld again and it looks like third parties are going to be the backbone of the Vita’s lineup this fall with Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified and Assassins Creed III: Liberation. Those are still big games, but they do need more if they still want to compete with the 3DS. There was also a lack of third-party support at the conference as Ubisoft was the only headliner there showing off their biggest games for the holiday season. In all, Sony does seem to have enough to keep going for another year or two with the Playstation 3 before they start talking about a new console.


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