The Sony press conference was wedged in as the last of the big three, and right as the E3 main floor doors opened. They used the event to announce very few new things, while attempting to wow the crowd with 3D and tons of Move. Did it work? Some of it did, some of it didn't. Read our recap to find out which was which.
Five Things That Moved Me
1. Twisted Metal: Twisted Metal actually saved the Sony press conference from mediocrity. Why? Because there were no big surprises. When the biggest surprise is Kevin Butler walking onstage, you really need something to pull your feet out of the fire. Thankfully, that thing was was Twisted Metal, complete with a real-life ice cream truck driven by a machete-wielding clown. They topped that off with awesome-sauce in the form of actual multiplayer gameplay, which included helicoptes and chainsaw-wielding motorcyclists.
2. Portal 2: Okay, so Twisted Metal wasn't the only real surprise. Portal 2 is coming to the PS3, and after the not-so-kind words Valve co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell had for Sony about their flagship title, that is a surprise. After all, he called it a disaster. So imagine our surprise when GlaDOS took over the press conference and Gabe himself walked out to eat a little humble pie and announce that he thinks the PS3 is the best console. Really, Gabe? Color us surprised, but happy that we can play Portal 2 on the PS3.
3. Kevin Butler: Seriously, why didn't this guy present the entire Sony event? His impassioned, tongue-in-cheek speech meant to ignite the inspirational fires beneath gamers was both hilarious and a call to arms. The guy has proven how funny he can be in a commercial many times over, and his deadpan stage delivery proved that he can nail it in public. Sony, bring him back next year. Maybe he can take Peter Dille's place altogether?
4. Exclusives: After seeing so many different exclusive titles slip through their fingers, Sony is reclaiming the banner in the exclusives war by bringing it to a new realm: exclusive additional material. They announced exclusive bonus items for Medal of Honor (the special edition includes 2002's Medal of Honor: Frontline) and Dead Space 2 (the disc includes an HD version of Dead Space Extraction with Move support). Mafia II includes day one additional, exclusive content, and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood comes with exclusive missions. Brotherhood is also getting the multiplayer beta exclusively, and Portal 2 will have full access to the Steam Cloud of Valve with its automatic updates. No wonder Jack Tretton said "Exclusive is my new favorite word."
5. The Sly Collection (remastered in HD!) and Heroes on the Move: Retro is new all over again as Sly Cooper, Jak, Daxter, Clank, Ratchet and Bentley are all coming back in two new titles that include Move support. It's just too bad Naughty Dog couldn't zap Crash Bandicoot in here as well. We didn't see anything in the way of gameplay, but if Sony continues to mine its own rich history, this can only be a good thing.
Five Things That Didn't Budge Me
1. 3D: Sony keep hyping 3D as the next big thing, and it was no different at their press conference. We had to put on 3D glasses not once, but twice during their presentation, and a transitional video they kept showing included a dazzling array of peripherals, games, and … big clunky 3D glasses. After seeing the Nintendo 3DS in person just before this Sony keynote, glasses already feel like last-gen tech. Killzone 3 looked impressive in 3D on a giant screen, but I don't know how this is going to translate to a fun experience at home. I have a hard enough time finding my controller when I want to jump into a game. Now I'm going to have to find glasses?
2. PSN Subscription: People don't like it when they get something for free, and then suddenly have to start paying for it. PSN Plus is going to cost players $49.99 per year to "expand and enhance" the gaming experience, but rest assured, they're doing this to make money. Think of it as stepping up from network television to cable. You might want just one particular channel, but you have to pay the whole fee for the entire service. Which means you're spending more than you normally would to say, download episodes of Qore. PSN Plus members will also get early access to betas and so on, which will drive a wedge between subscribers, and the people who want it for free.
3. PlayStation Move Pricing: So, the Move controller is $49.99 per controller, but you're going to have to buy a Subcontroller to go with each one of those, to the tune of $29.99. And of course you'll need a camera, which will be $39.99. So if you want to get a basic rig for two players, you'll be spending $200. Sony is offering a bundle with a camera, Move controller, and their Sports Champions game, but that's $99 and doesn't come with a Subcontroller. Sony has discovered the Wii controller pricing plan and is loving it.
4. Knocking the Competition: Sony took multiple digs at Microsoft during this event, with Jack Tretton saying "No need for ponchos, we're gonna do it natural." Kevin Butler took equal swings at Microsoft and the Wii, and even the Killzone 3 preview took a swipe at Halo when Kaz said "It's the most realistic sci-fi shooter available." I like my science fiction to be unrealistic, thank you. That's what makes it science fiction. If you're "just beginning" to hit your stride, Sony, then why take potshots at the competition? It's catty, annoying, and makes you sound like you're involved in a junior high squabble. Let it go.
5. The Lack of Surprises: Where was all the big news? The shocking announcement of a PSP2? Word that they were redesigning the PS3 yet again? The fact that they'd hired Ben Heckendorn to design all future equipment? I know, I'm dreaming, but nothing really surprised us except for the Portal 2 to PS3 news, and the Twisted Metal drop at the end of the show. We're not asking for an Oprah moment, a la Microsoft and their Xbox giveaway, but couldn't they have offered up some shockers that had long been kept under wraps? Four words - Kevin Butler: The Game. Am I right?
Now that the E3 show floor is open, we'll be bringing you a lot more previews and hands-on experiences with many different titles, and you can tune in to Feedback to watch our own Patrick Klepek and get even more E3 news. With two more days to go, there's a lot more coming, so stay tuned.