E3 2010: The Sony Stuff

Trying to wrap some of the little chunks of games and things that looked interesting from E3 into fewer, larger posts here’s a rundown on as much Sony stuff as I can cobble together. Third Parties to follow. Here’s what I thought of Nintendo and Microsoft.

The Press Conference
Once again I preface that I didn’t see this show in its entirety but I did manage to get home in time to see about an hour of it live. I didn’t pick up on it myself but Maxx pointed out the awkwardly raucous applause for obscure things like turning into a rat in Sorcery, the presenter’s numerous mulligans in Tiger Woods and a new season of The Tester. Clearly some of those seats were pre-paid by Sony. But that didn’t dampen things too much; there were loads of montages that always do the trick for me and I love the imagery of all the PlayStation products and peripherals that served as transitions. Man, they’ve made a lot of stuff over the years!

Having been to two Sony press conferences myself I can tell you that surviving them is a test of all that it means to be human. Slow, protracted, and filled with figures and bar graphs, I was thrilled to see most of that put aside this year for some actual personality. But then the weirdest thing happened when The Kevin Butler interrupted with his best Stephen Colbert impersonation… only Kevin Butler is a script-reading actor, not even a real person. His skit went on way too long and the planted crowd went nuts for every word he uttered. It was unsettling to watch online, I can’t imagine the discomfort he coated the walls with.

There were also loads of demos of things I have no interest in. Like Microsoft and Nintendo’s shows, I seem to fall well outside of the target market and things like Killzone 3, 3D TVs, The Sly Collection, Medal of Honor and inFAMOUS 2 just hold no interest. One of the few moments of E3 where I genuinely got all tingly, though, was when Gabe Newell came on stage, admitted the spiteful comments he’s made about Sony, and then proceeded to say the PS3 version of Portal 2 would be the best. I don’t know if the tingle was from this peculiar E3 moment or the return of GLaDOS but I can’t wait for any version of Portal 2!

I love the tech but most of the Move demos rolled right off my back. Killzone 3: blah. The Shoot: I guess everyone needs minigame collections. Heroes on the Move: I sure wish I liked any of those characters! What stuck with me the most from the conference (besides the bitchin’ Move montage music, watch above) was the pricing. I’ve already got a PlayStation Eye but for most that’ll be $30, then another $50 for the wand and $30 more for the navigation controller; that’s $110 total. There’s a $99 bundle but it includes the camera which I don’t need. It does come with Sports Champions and a demo disc but that doesn’t seem worth the extra bucks. We’ve known how it all works for a while but it didn’t really hit me until their presentation; there are a lot of pieces required just to Move.

The paid subscription plan of PlayStation+ seems like it may eventually be cool for some far-off exclusive demo but they’re going with the troublesome structure where as soon as you stop paying all the exclusive content you “own” on your PS3 gets locked up. On second though, not even a demo of The Last Guardian is worth that. And then there were some more games I didn’t care about and one that I’m not sure if I can care about; Twisted Metal. With a sloppy, topless, clown-masked actor sitting in an ice cream truck, series frontman David Jaffe, proceeded to play a demo of the game. Nostalgia hit me first with big destructible environments and classic weaponry but as he explained new modes and the multiplayer focus, reality hit me. I don’t play online multiplayer games. I only enjoyed Twisted Metal with my neighbor or against the A.I. in “Story Mode”. That’s not liable to keep this new $60 reboot playing for long and I had to ask myself, is this even something you want to play anymore? Maybe car combat feels the best in my memory… and then the show ended with Sweet Tooth’s demon man-boobs flopping out of his ice cream truck. Ummm… way to end a press conference Sony!

PlayStation Move
The Move hardware has always looked closest to actual 1:1 motion tracking and it always seemed to be fast and responsive. The games, though, aren’t doing much for me so far; I was more impressed with last year’s tech demos. Tiger Woods, yes, that’ll be an amazing experience for people who like that kind of thing. Sorcery looks like a playable (if ugly) faux-Harry Potter adventure that incorporates a lot of the stuff we saw in the original Eye Toy demos but it also looks pretty simplistic. Sports Champions might be fun but the realistic look of the character models reminds me of the lifeless PlayStation Home. Like Kinectimals, EyePet has me worried over how long its cute critters will entertain me. SingStar Dance was little more than a confirmation but the idea is promising. LittleBigPlanet 2 is a foregone conclusion in my book, as is Echochrome ii where you use the Move controller like a flashlight to create shadows for your manikin character to navigate. Brilliant stuff. Finally there’s Kung Fu Rider (read this!) and the retro-fitted PAIN, both of which make me wonder if I wouldn’t just rather play them with a controller.

Grim as that all sounds I really am excited about Move even without a must-have title. I’ve always had a soft spot for the EyeToy and its creator, Dr. Richard Marks, who is wholly behind Move, I just need developers to start making really crazy stuff. Once Journey is finished I expect thatgamecompany to do something incredible and am looking forward to the insane experiments of both Hideo Kojima and Keita Takahashi.

The PSP
The most astounding thing about the PSP at E3 is that Sony chose to support it at all. I think we were all expecting a PSP2 announcement but what we got was a Kevin Butler for the urban youth market named Marcus. His debut showed off the PSP lineup which reminded me once again that I don’t ever want to use the PSP to play games. It’s sad, too, because there are some games I’d love to play like Peace Walker, The 3rd Birthday, Ace Combat Joint Assault and Invizimals but I can’t cope with that form factor any more. I can only hope they’re swiftly ported to PS3 so I can get some Trophies and play with a real controller.

The PlayStation 3
This is getting long so here rest of the PS3 exclusives I’m eagerly awaiting. thatgamecompany’s Journey looks like the kind of game I’ve been dreaming about. Abstract, artistic, and heavy on personal exploration. Umm, that’d be personal exploration in the go-wherever-you-want sense, not the introspective analytical sense. Pixeljunk Shooter 2 is a gimme, totally stoked for that. Eat Them (read this!) looks like it could be great fun with build-your-own-gigantic-monster, city-smashing gameplay.

In closing…
…this was the best press conference I’ve seen from Sony ever, despite the planted crowd and unnerving make-believe celebrity/marketing shill. Like Microsoft, there’s not an overwhelming amount of exclusive PlayStation stuff I’m waiting for but I really like Move and can’t wait to see what developers do with it. Also, The Last Guardian and the Team ICO collection should both show up at Tokyo Game Show so I’ll pre-award Sony with ‘Best of Show’ for that!

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