Chris Park is acting as our correspondent in his spare time out at E3 in Los Angeles this week. After waking in San Fransisco at 1 a.m. and making the five-hour trek to the Los Angeles Convention center today, Park sat in on the Sony Computer Entertainment Press Conference. Then he did a hands-on at the Southpeak booth with two of the publisher’s upcoming titles, before a little wandering. He also took some photos of the event. Park’s report follows…
Sony Press Conference
President Jack Tretton walked out first, announcing over 300 games this fiscal year, and 2009 as the “best year ever.” PlayStation products accounted for 30 percent of all retail sales in 2008, he said. For the upcoming year, the PlayStation 2 is to see 100 new titles. He then boasted about the 24 million registered users on the PlayStation Network.
The first video Sony showed was an introduction to all Sony video game products sans the PSP Go.
The second video was a demo of Uncharted 2‘s single-player campaign, and it looked beautiful. The draw distance in the video was stunning, as well as the amount of polish and detail in the South American city where the first mission took place.
After Uncharted 2, Tretton showed a live 256-player demo of MAG, or Massive Action Game. It showed promise, but without seeing the game under hard stress, it is unknown whether the servers that Sony will be using will be able to handle the load. It sounded good and looked nice, but the animations still appeared a little janky.
MAG led into the PSP. There are 400 titles in the United States, and content bundles (Rock Band Unplugged, Final Fantasy: Dissidia, Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines, and a Hannah Montana Lilac PSP bundle).
Kaz Hirai walked onto the stage to “officially” announce the PSP Go, which he dubbed “the worst kept secret of E3.” It is not to replace the PSP-3000, though it is 50 percent smaller and 40 percent lighter. Hirai mentioned more franchise titles on the PSP, and a new PC browser called Media Go, which will simplify access of the PSP to the PlayStation Store over the PC. A new mood-based playlist creator called “Sense Me” was also mentioned.
Another big mention was an 80 percent reduction in price for the PSP Toolkit for developers. The price drop is reportedly designed to bring more new content to the handheld. Hirai said all new PSP titles would be digitally distributed, as well as on UMD discs still sold at retail.
The PSP Go is to be priced at $249.99, released on Oct. 1 in North America and Europe, and Nov. 1 in Japan.
After these announcements came Gran Turismo PSP, a title which was originally announced when the PlayStation Portable was released. A video of that was shown as well, along with the “official” debut of the PlayStation Portable Go. There are to be 800 cars, 35 tracks with variations, with the single player containing standard races, time trials and drift trials. Adhoc of up to 4 players and the ability to trade cars between player’s garages are to be supported. Gran Turismo PSP is to be released the same day as PSP Go, Oct. 1.
Next up for the PSP came Hideo Kojima, who showed the first trailer for Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Taking place in the 1970s, it is a full sequel in the Metal Gear Solid franchise. Kojima is writing the script and the MGS4 development staff is working on the new title.
Resident Evil Portable was mentioned, but without any screenshots or trailers.
Next up was the PlayStation Network. Tretton mentioned that 475 million pieces of content have been downloaded and there are more than 90 exclusive titles. And Final Fantasy VII was released on the PSN today.
PS Home is said to have 6.5 million users worldwide, and 85 percent return users. Expansions are going to be in conjunction with publishers.
Finally, the PlayStation 3 got some attention with Agent, an exclusive title from Rockstar Games. No information was released. Assassin’s Creed 2 had a single player demo, which looked amazing, and there was a mention of Leonardo Da Vinci being an assistant in this new title.
Final Fantasy XIII was shown in a trailer and in-game footage, but the big secret was the announcement of FFXIV Online. An exclusive to PlayStation 3, it is the next installment of the online franchise.
The next thing was the motion controller tech demo. Created by the same creator as the PlayStation Eye, the demo showed the preciseness of the software. It was amazing to see the applications of the demo.
The end of the conference featured ModNation Racers, a racing game that was heavy on user-created tracks. The Last Guardian by Team Ico was shown in trailer form and looked amazing. The detail was spectacular. Finally the last demo was God of War III, shown in playable form. The demo was also on the show floor, but the lines proved too long to play today. I’m going to try and give it a playthrough tomorrow.
A third-person/first-person shooter for PC and Xbox 360, it worked well. The play style I used was moving my squad in the third-person RTS mode, and jumping into the first-person mode to kill the enemies. Taking place in South America, I didn’t hear a lot about the story, but the gameplay was solid.
I originally played this at the Game Developers Conference and was just seeing what the updates were. At GDC, the AI bots were a little stupid, but the game at E3 was a 32-player match with 16 players and 16 bots. The control on 360 was a little slower than PC, but it was a stronger presentation of the title. I will be going back to try it again.
I also walked around the floor today and just saw some videos and watched people playing demos. There wasn’t much amazing, but I’ll try to get some hands-on time tomorrow in between my appointments.
Thanks to Chris for sending in the report. We’re expecting at least one more this week. Also, anyone interested in checking out Chris’ videos from the event can find them at http://www.youtube.com/wakesidevision