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Gamescom at Cologne, Germany is usually known as Europe’s version of E3 and most of the games shown there are what you seen before back in June. Sony’s press conference today at the show was very impressive with lots of new titles announced for the Playstation 3, Vita, and even their upcoming Mobile service. They started off with the Vita and after a disappointing showing at their E3 press conference, does Sony stil care about their new handheld that just launched earlier this year? Turns out they still do and the amount of new and exclusive games they announced will make owners happy for the next year.
Existing titles like LittleBigPlanet and Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale were mentioned at the beginning of the show with new characters being officially revealed for their new fighting game. Ratchet & Clank, Sackboy, Spike from Ape Escape, and Dante from the new Devil May Cry are the new faces shown off in a new trailer even though they were in the leaked lists a couple weeks back. For those with both a PS3 and a Vita, SCEE announced Cross Buy for Playstation All-Stars, Ratchet & Clank: U-Force (Full Frontal Assault for US folks), and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. If you buy the PS3 version of these games, you also get the Vita version free with the purchase. That is a great deal and announcement by Sony since you save money than trying to buy both versions separately.
Other than big third-party games such as Assassins Creed 3: Liberation and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Declassified being mentioned for a bit, the new Vita games announced at Gamescom by two known developers of the Playstation family are very impressive. First up above is Tearaway, a new IP by Media Molecule, the creators of the LittleBigPlanet franchise. This is a 3D platformer set in a paper world with lots of multi-touch controls. Players can touch the screen and on the rear of the Vita to interact with the environment to manuever around and progress through obstacles. The trailer above also features a blowing mechanic as you blow into the Vita to create new paths for the messenger protagonist. Tearaway is arguably the best use of the Playstation Vita’s controls and screen I seen far as it was only meant to be for the handheld. No date has been set for Media Molecule’s new game, but my guess for now is sometime next year. This also has potential to be the Vita’s killer app the system has been needing since its launch.
Next up is a new Killzone game by Guerilla Games only for the Vita, which was announced a while back. Killzone: Mercenary is what this new game is called and it features a scoring system when you rack up kills. Mercenary also seems to be a spinoff from the franchise since there is no relation to the main games as of this time. Melee kills can be done by swiping the Vita screen in certain directions to choke out enemies for example. The franchise has also been known for having some of the best looking games on Sony platforms and Mercenary is no exception on the Vita. The game already looks amazing in motion in the trailer below. No release date was announced yet for this franchise spinoff, but 2013 is a safe bet. With Killzone: Mercenary and Tearaway coming out next year, Vita owners definitely have some new and exciting games to look forward to since they made an impressive showing at Gamescom.
The other Vita-related announcements at Sony’s Gamescom conference were that they’re getting Playstation Plus and cloud storage between it and the Playstation 3 will extend to 1 GB at the end of the month by a new firmware update. Not mentioned during the conference, however, was a final date for PS1 Classics on the Vita, which is August 28, the same day this firmware update is supposed to be out. Playstation Mobile was mentioned brielfy again today like E3 with a montage of games from known and indie developers. I’m not that sold to the Mobile idea yet because it felt like Sony just has to mention it for a couple of minutes to ensure consumers that it is still coming. Cross play of LittleBigPlanet 2 and the Vita version of LBP was also demoed off to show that it works, but the demo went on a little longer than people thought.
The conference then moves on to the Playstation 3 side where SCEE confirms that the PS3 version of Assassins Creed 3 will have hours of exclusive downloadable content on the day of its release. The folks of EA Sports also demonstrated the Move controls for FIFA ’13 for a short bit since soccer is obviously pretty big for the European audience. There were also tons of new material and announcements to show off for Wonderbook at the conference today after a somewhat lackluster debut at E3. Other than Book of Spells by J.K. Rowling, two new books were shown off today by Moonbot Studios and the BBC. Moonbot’s Diggs Nightcrawler is a detective story while the BBC’s Walking With Dinosaurs allows players to interact with dinosaurs at various settings. Disney was also announced as a new partner for Wonderbook as well, which is big for the product catered more to children than adults.
The major PS3 highlight at Gamescom today is that three new first-party games were announced and they are all original IPs. Above is Until Dawn, a horror game with Playstation Move support by SCEE and Supermassive Games. Eight teenagers are at a remote mountain in honor of a friend’s death anniversary, but of course things go crazy when being at a dark forest at night. At first glance, it has an Alan Wake-like vibe going since this takes place at a familar looking setting, but the story is different being able to play as mulitple characters and more in the traditional horror movie vein.
Sony describes Until Dawn as “teen horror,” which makes sense considering they have Hollywood talent working on the game. No release date was announced for Until Dawn, but it will likely come out next year only for the Playstation 3. Considering there is not that horror games out anymore, this can become a sleeper hit that the genre needs in order to come back. Next up is a new PSN game by SCEJ tenatively called Rain. You play as an invisible boy that wants to find the girl of his dreams. The catch is he that can be only seen in the rain. His movements can be seen by the puddles and you’re able to manipulate the scenery in your state. The trailer is here if you want to see it in action if you don’t understand the premise right away.
The last new game announced today at Gamescom is Puppeteer, also made by Sony’s Japan studio. From the trailer below, it is a stylish looking 2D platformer set in a puppeteer’s theatre where you play as Kutaro, a boy who was transformed to a puppet by the Moon Bear King after being captured. Kutaro has to find his way back home and in human form, but he has help with some friends and a sword that also acts as scissors to defeat enemies and travel through various environments. This is the most exciting and interesting of the three for me because of the stylish art style and platforming gameplay seen so far.
Sony’s conference ended with a brief mention of Beyond: Two Souls, the new game by Quantic Dream that was announced at E3, and a new trailer for Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. The new trailer here has a mix of new and old footage with a surprising reveal at the end in the storyline. It would of been okay if that trailer was shown, but Sony had one more thing to show off, which was the first footage for Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified. It is not really a game I would save at the end of a press conference, but it is still Call of Duty and the top first-person shooter franchise whether people love or hate it. Besides some dragging moments, Sony’s Gamescom conference was filled with new game announcements that look both promising and exciting for the next year.
Playstation 3 and Vita owners have a lot of new exclusive titles to watch out for. After a disappointing showing at E3, Sony definitely turned things around here at Gamescom with the Vita in terms of showing new games that matter. It remains to be seen how well the Vita does when these new games come out, but Media Molecule’s Tearaway is shaping up to be the must-have killer app for the handheld. The new PS3 game announcements also look promising, especially the fact they are all new, original IPs. This conference was easily better than E3 in terms of new and exciting titles we did not expect coming. Even if this console generation seems to be winding down, Sony still believes that the Playstation 3 has a lot left on the gas tank to keep going for another two or even three years.