Tuesday, 15 June 2010

E3 2010-Sony

When a company like Sony opens up their 2010 E3 conference with a video that clearly slaps the competition in the face, (namely Microsoft), with footage of Comedian/Actor Kevin Butler waving his hands around and saying “Who wants to pretend they have an invisible gun in their hand? What is this, the 3rd grade?” you know they mean business. Pity then that while Sony’s conference certainly had variety it never really got off the ground.

Sony kicked of the proceedings with big talk about 3D gaming and how the Playstation 3 is the only place you will find a real 3D gaming experience. Onlookers at the live show were each given a pair of 3D glasses and were invited by Guerrilla Games CEO, Hermen Hulst, to experience Killzone 3D.  Here at home we got to watch the regular version, but what was on offer looked very promising. Unsurprisingly the long awaited Gran Tursimo 5 along with a selection of other titles and a handful of Playstation Move games have also gotten the 3D treatment. Sony then went on to throw up a host of games already available on the Playstation Network getting a 3D makeover with Wipeout HD being the most notable. Unfortunately due to the high cost of installing a 3D set-up in the home this pushing of the project seemed way to early. If you’ve a few spare grand kicking about, fine, but if you haven’t then you won’t be playing Killzone 3 in 3D anytime soon.

Playstation Move was interesting, notably because it seemed to deliver on many of Sony’s promises. Demonstrations of Tiger Woods 11 and Sorcery, (a Harry Potter-cum-Dungeons & Dragons adventure romp), showed Move to be a precise and responsive peripheral; far more so than both Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Kinect. Characters and animations moved in sync with controller motions surprisingly well and pointed toward a system that could introduce motion control to more ‘core’ titles, (like SOCOM 4), far better than Nintendo and Microsoft’s efforts. Price, however, was a bit of a stinger being set at $69.99 for the main controller and $29.99 for the ‘Nunchuck’. A more agreeable bundle deal was also show with both controllers and Sports Champion, (a more serious looking Wii Sports title), for $99.99. How these prices will translate in the UK is up for question, but it’s most likely to be around the same price bracket if not a little bit less.

Probably the biggest shock was the announcement of Steam on PS3. For those unaware of what Steam is, it’s a digital distribution, multi-player and communications platform developed by Valve Corporation, (the team that brought us the critically acclaimed Half Life games), and perhaps one of the most important tools in recent gaming history; especially where digital distribution is concerned.  It was a move that, given Valves dismissal of PS3 not to long ago, came as a huge surprise. Clearly co-founder, Gabe Newell, has had a change of heart. Portal 2 anyone?

Sony also introduced their subscription service Playstation+. If you’re willing to pay around $49.99 a year you’ll be privy to a whole bundle of goodies and content. Thankfully Playstation+ is optional; all other features on the Playstation Network, including online play, will continue to be free.

Here’s a more detailed break down of Playstation+ features :

From 29th June you’ll be able to purchase a 1 year or 90-day membership from PlayStation Store and instantly get your hands on the following premium features. Plus, if you sign up for a 1 year membership between 29th June and 3rd August, we’ll also throw in a free downloadable copy of the award winning LittleBigPlanet.

As a member you can expect to get your hands on at least four games a month at no extra charge. Each month there will be a selection of one PSN game, two minis and one PS one classics available on PlayStation Store for you to download. You also get premium avatars and dynamic themes each month, many of which are exclusive to members.

Talking of exclusive, there will also be discounts available on loads of PlayStation Store content, just for members, so make the most of them as these will change each month as well.

Finally, wherever possible we’ll be making sure that members are included in some selected demos and beta trials before they go live to the public so you can be the one to tell all your mates about the next big game they ‘must’ get.

Just the games, avatars and themes alone are worth at least £200* per year, so even before the other benefits, this service is great value for money

Full Game Trial:
This premium feature gives you the chance to try PSN and Blu-ray disc titles before you buy them in a whole new way. We are not talking normal demos of selected parts of a game here. With Full Game Trial, you can download the full game and play it as if you owned it for approximately one hour, depending on the game, before you decide if you want to buy it or not. So you can check out the online modes, play against friends or anything else you’d normally do with a game.

The other great thing is that your progress and trophies from the trial will all be unlocked if you buy the game so no need to go back and start again.

Automatic Download:
We wanted to offer members the speediest service possible so sign up and you can set your PS3 to automatically receive the latest game updates for all the games you play, PS3 system software updates and even have game demos sent directly to your PS3 without lifting a finger.

Just set the time you want to receive them and your PS3 will automatically wake up and download everything, ready for when you next want to play. No more waiting to play your favourite game because there is a new patch or having to remember when the latest system software is launching let your PS3 do the work.

Details of this great new service, including a list of content available for the first 2 months will be on playstationplus.com between now and the 29th, but don’t forget to get on the Store and sign up before the 3rd August to get the added bonus of a free copy of LittleBigPlanet.

For the most part though, Sony’s conference lacked any spark and apart from an appearance from Kevin Butler who lightened the mood with some amusing banter on how “gaming is about being up until 3am to get a trophy that doesn’t really exist”, was in danger of falling flat on its face at any moment. They even had a piece on the PS2. Yes, the PS2 did well Sony, but it’s time to move on. The middle part of the conference dragged on with PSP adverts we’ve already seen and any hopes of a PSP2 announcement were dashed. It never happened.

It’s all about the games though and Sony certainly weren’t short of those. Here’s some of the more promising titles dues for release this year and early 2011:

Medal of Honour-including a revamped version of MOH: Frontline, exclusive to PS3.

Dead Space 2

Gran Tursimo 5-now with added 3D and Move technology

Portal 2

Heroes on the Move-A Playstation Move title featuring six well known Playstation characters, including Ratchet & Clank, Jak and Sly Raccoon.

Tiger Woods 11

Twisted Metal

FFXIV Online

Killzone 3-3D

LittleBigPlanet 2


Infamous 2

MotorStorm: Apocalypse

Assassins Creed: Brotherhood

No mention of Team Ico’s The Last Guardian, which was a shame.

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