Most of the pressure is undoubtedly on both Sony and Microsoft, as the entire gaming industry is quietly anticipating announcements on next-gen hardware. I’m just going to spoil it for you right off the bat; there are no announcements for a Playstation 4. Or anything about a new Xbox for that matter. Disappointed? Too bad! Well, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on with Sony’s media briefing, shall we?
Sony’s press conference opened with a presentation of Quantic Dream’s new title called Beyond. Quantic studio head David Cage went onstage to discuss how the game will explore the theme of death and what potentially exists afterwards. The main character for Beyond is Jody Holmes, and it’s worth mentioning that she is going to be played by none other than Ellen Page (you know, Juno, Inception, to name a few). The demo showed was more cinematic than actual gameplay, in which a bald woman is being questioned by a cop. After being offered a cup of coffee and basically avoiding every single question the cop is asking, the woman apparently makes the coffee cup violently fly off the desk and smash into the wall. The cop then walks away and still tries to offer her help whenever necessary. There’s the implication that she might have supernatural powers, and the next part of the demo showed a S.W.A.T. team barging into the police department, attempting to retrieve the woman. The reason for them being there and whether or not the woman has supernatural powers or not wasn’t clarified at all, though the demo promised Beyond will have plenty of action, cinematic set pieces, and dialogue.
Next was Playstation All Stars: Battle Royale that showed a video featuring notable Sony characters like Sly Cooper, Fat Princess, Kratos, and Sweet Tooth. Looking at the demo, Sony was basically ripping off of Super Smash Bros. Okay, that’s probably a bit too harsh; maybe “borrowing heavily from Super Smash Bros.” is more appropriate. Still, what they showed of the game looked solid, so at least I’ll give them credit for showing something derivative but can likely stand on its own. It’ll more or less depend on the character roster appeal, I think. And speaking of which, they introduced two new characters: Nathan Drake and Big Daddy. Nathan of course makes sense, but if I recall, Big Daddy isn’t exactly a Sony character (Bioshock was exclusive for the 360 for a year). But hey, whatever floats your boat.
Yup. This is a thing.
From then on, Sony emcee Jack Tretton went on about numerous Playstation Network-related announcements. Some of those announcements would include Playstation Plus members will have the opportunity to download a slew of free games in the coming months. Games like inFamous 2 and Saints Row 2 were mentioned, though more games will be rotated in and out later on. Tretton also announced that everybody who attended the conference will get a 1-year PS Plus membership voucher for free.
The focus shifted to promoting Sony’s latest handheld, the Vita. First was promoting cross platforming between the handheld and the PS3, and notable games like the previously mentioned Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale and LittleBigPlanet 2 (via DLC update) will support this feature. Other than announcing both Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified and the Assassin’s Creed III tie-in, Liberation for the Vita, there wasn’t much else about the handheld. There were other game announcements, like PSOne classics, digital apps like Youtube and Crackle heading for the Vita in the near future, as well as titles like Retro City Rampage and Guacamelee getting a mention. Other than that, the handheld itself was largely absent throughout the whole show.
After being fairly impressed by Far Cry 3’s single player during Ubisoft’s media briefing, the game’s 4 player co-op kind of ruined my expectations for it. For one, this kind of feature has been done to death in many first person shooters out in the market right now. So the multiplayer demo they showed absolutely did not impress me one bit. I’m still looking forward to the single player though. Surprisingly, Ubisoft showed yet another demo for Assassin’s Creed III. Can you really blame them? I mean, it’s pretty much one of the most highly anticipated games of this year. Instead of showcasing more of the Assassin Connor’s stabbing skills, it showed a big naval battle sequence. While it’s strange to see a sea battle in an Assassin’s Creed game, this second demo was almost as impressive as the first, and I’m just as excited to play this part of the game as exploring the Frontier.
Perhaps the weirdest moment during Sony’s briefing was all the Wonderbook stuff they showed. I guess it’s part of the ongoing reality tech demos Sony is pitching for their motion controller. Wonderbook lets you create 3D images that you can interact with via the Playstation Eye peripheral. They wasted no time though, in announcing Book of Spells, a Wonderbook that renowned Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling (which I totally called) is working on with Sony. It’s based on similar elements from Rowling’s Pottermore interactive website. They then showed off some magic spells; if I recall, ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ was mentioned once or twice.
Probably the most bizarre thing Sony's got going on right now.
Finally, the press conference ended with two demos from God of War: Ascension and The Last of Us. I’m not going to write much about Ascension, because most of what was shown is largely the same as in previous God of War titles. And as somebody who has had enough of Kratos’s teen angst, I didn’t much care for it. But if God of War still appeals to you, I don’t see any reason for you to not play Ascension when it eventually comes out.
Sony’s best game showcase arguably came in the form of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. The demo showed protagonists Joel and Ellie going through an apparently abandoned building, until bandits appeared to ruin their day. Joel then sneaks up behind to subdue one of them, taking care of the rest in a brutal confrontation. I had some doubts going into it, but after seeing The Last of Us in action, I think they have something special here. It’s hard—especially in video games—to convey heavy emotional content towards violence, and seeing Joel get knocked back from gunshots, Joel brutally disposing of enemies with punches and shotgun blasts to the face made me cringe a bit. It’s that kind of gameplay experience I want in a post-apocalyptic world like The Last of Us, and Naughty Dog is surely on the right track.
Despite some strong, impressive showings from Beyond, Assassin’s Creed III and The Last of Us, I came away pretty much feeling blasé by half of Sony’s briefing. Sony continues to show support for the Move and weirdly, not much for the Vita (which was largely absent during the show), though it’s inspiring to see them continue to endorse the importance of going digital. Still, the first party publisher would’ve fared better with a stronger gaming lineup; where was Bioshock Infinite? Grand Theft Auto V? Do The Last Guardian and Final Fantasy Versus XIII actually still exist? What about Rockstar’s supposedly PS3 exclusive, Agent? Those questions were unfortunately left unanswered.
David Gabriel, NoobFeed.