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E3 2011 Sony Press Conference Details

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Posted June 7, 2011 - By Kevin Kelly




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Watch The Sony E3 2011 Press Conference Live At 5:00 PM PST

Sony packed journalists and foreign dignitaries into the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena to unveil their E3 2011 offerings, and house music pumped over a crowd washed in darkness and heat. It was actually like a real-life sauna in there, and they kicked things off with 3D. So if you thought Sony might be letting the 3D thing fall by the wayside, you are sorely mistaken. Ominous music bored a hole through our heads while the PlayStation logo flew around the screen before giving way to some sexy, sexy shots of the NGP, and then revealed a full suite of PlayStation products, including "3D World" by Sony. So, again with the 3D. A trailer full of Sony's upcoming products, with heavy emphasis on the NGP and other announced title poured out over a soundtrack so full of bass that it vibrated intimate parts of my body, free of charge! The whole thing was powerful enough to convince the most diehard anti-Sony fan that this is a system worth some attention.

Jack Tretton took center stage as soon as that was done, killing my prediction that Kevin Butler would actually take the stage to give us some sort of comedic mea culpa. This was Jack's first opportunity to address the PSN Outage, and he started out with a joke by saying that "My news friends tell me that there is nothing their editors love more than a controversy. So, you're welcome." Ouch. Trust me Jack, we really didn't want that controversy. He then segued into talking about how their sales are up, despite the outage, and he thanked the customers, and the third-party developers, and gave a heartfelt apology for the downage. He assured us that network activity was back up to 90%, and they are making sure that things are very secure. Let's hope that's true. Then he moved on to Sony's commitment to the PlayStation Network, and mentioned that they'd be adding CinemaNow as a content partner.

It didn't take long for them to start singing the praises of Uncharted, and Naughty Dog's co-presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra took the stage to show off a a level from Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. Nathan is on a deserted cruise ship, rolling in the open seas under dark skies, while rain pours down on everything. Moving into the interior of the ship, it's clear that it's infested with thugs. Drake stealths his way up to several foes and offs them silently before progressing further into the bowels of the ship.

Uncharted 3

 Conflict has Drake accidentally start the ship sinking, and it's not long before there's nearly a full-on Poseidon Adventure happening. With lots of underwater sequences, exploration, and climbing when the ship goes vertical, there's a lot going on. The crowd whistled and cheered when this gameplay started, and it clearly looks like Uncharted has evolved up the game development ladder a notch. Delivering the same cinematic presentation and hardcore action, Uncharted 3 looks extremely impressive.

Back to 3D gave us some dramatic Uncharted cutscenes in 3D, which makes it looks like this game should really be a movie, and with Mark Wahlberg as far away from it as possible. There's a hint that Nathan's ring contains a lot of secrets, shots of Chloe and Elena promise more of the Veronica/Betty relationship, and even Sully looks impressive, and has apparently lost a few pounds.

Marcus Smith from Insomniac came out to demo Resistance 3 for us, and to prove that Insomniac can handle two big games at once. The level we were shown takes place in Saint Louis, and you're instantly reminded how chunky and cool the weapons of Resistance are. Some electrical weapon, a beefy shotgun, a pulse rifle, a revolver, and an automatic rifle rounded out the arsenal in the brief demo.

Resistance 3 Gameplay Trailer, Screens Reveal Chimera Brawler

Skipping ahead revealed a lot of platforming through multiple rainy levels (what is it with developers and rain these days?) while an enormous insectoid crawls around overhead. Only three minutes of gameplay were shown, but it does look extremely impressive. They're putting Move support into Resistance 3, and will be releasing a PS3 SharpShooter Resistance 3 Doomsday Edition that comes with the game, a motion controller, subcontroller, and the plastic gun.

Speaking of bundles, Tretton also announced that the God of War Origins Collection featuring uprezzed Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta along with an Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection will be coming out this fall. Finally. Of course, what's a Sony press conference without hardware as well? Sony will be releasing a 24" 3D monitor that offers up dual images, where player one sees one image, and player two sees something entirely different. No more splitscreen! They're also lowering the price of 3D glasses, although they failed to address the real problem with 3D glasses, which is that … they are 3D glasses. Wake me up when 3D goes glasses-less. The new display, along with Resistance 3 and glasses will be selling later this year for $499.

2K Sports came up to show off NBA 2K12, and they announced a new feature called NBA on the Move, which allows you to add Move control to the game. If you thought NBA 2K11 had some difficult controls, wait until you're trying that with motion. If there's one thing that this game needs, it's a powerful tutorial mode. I'm not sure that NBA on the Move will be that intuitive, but to prove that "anyone" can play the Move version, they brought out Kobe Bryant, fresh from not playing in the NBA finals, to show off the controls. With his first drive down the court, he ran directly out of bounds. I'll have to try this out to make a real judgment, but give me the controller on this title. The game hits shelves on October 4.

Medieval Moves: Deadmund's Quest is a new game coming out for the Move from the makers of Sports Champion. It uses a lot of the same skills from that title, like archery and swordplay, to drop the character into a swords and sorcery game with cartoonish graphics. You also get some new weapons, like throwing stars, and there's a lot of platforming and puzzle solving here, like trying to figure out how to get past two enormous rotating gears, or how do stop a horde of skeletons from following you up a ladder. (Hint, shoot the rope holding open the trapdoor at the top). I'm all for Move being used for things other than sports simulations, but I'm not sure this is the game that would sell me a Move.

Next up was a teaser for a game that comes out … tomorrow! That's right, inFamous 2.

inFAMOUS 2 Morality Explained; New Companions Kuo And Nix -- Trailer and Screenshots

I've been playing and I have to admit it's addictive, although I feel like it's missing some of the spirit of the original. Regardless, if you have a PS3, it's pretty much a must-have title. I'm pretty sure some of the stuff was spoiler-ridden, but I'm doing my best to purge those from my brain immediately. inFamous 2 will be adding Move support sometime this Fall, although it's unclear if that means just to the User Generated Content, or to the actual gameplay. Tretton also briefly mentioned that LittleBigPlanet 2 would also be getting additional Move support in a big way, although it also remains to be seen what that is.

Next up was another Sony exclusive, the upcoming Starhawk (from the creators of Warhawk). We were able to check out this game and go hands-on with the developers, so check out that coverage for more information. They showed us a new trailer for the game that reminds me how good the game looked, and the game can't come out quickly enough.

Dipping back into the retro pile, Tretton also announced a new Sly Cooper game. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time brings back the "family friendly" (according to Tretton) franchise and will be out in 2012. The trailer looks fun, even without showing any gameplay.

Dust 514 is an exclusive title coming to the PlayStation 3, and it takes a console shooter and connects it to a PC MMO. "One Universe / One War" marries all of this together on your PS3, and through EVE Online on the PC. It certainly sounds ambitious, and the gameplay they showed us looks like your typical sci-fi action shooter. I'll be interested in seeing how this looks on the PC side of things when everything is up and running next summer. It's Move enabled, and well be available in beta form later this year. Although they kept talking about "next Summer," Tretton said the game will be available in Spring of 2012.

Next up was a video of gameplay from BioShock Infinite, and that got a big cheer from the audience. Ken Levine then took to the stage, sporting a "Welcome to Rapture" t-shirt, to talk about the game, and he opened it up by recalling a phone call he got from Sony that encouraged him to make the game accessible to everyone. You know what that means, folks…

BioShock Infinite

Move support is coming to BioShock Infinite! They're just starting to get their head around how to use it, and they'll announce more about that for a later date. Levine also teased a game set within the BioShock universe that will be coming to the NGP, which he had tucked in his pocket. Tretton then took to the stage, to announce that BioShock Infinite will come with a copy of the original BioShock on the same Blu-ray disc. Swanky for those of you who haven't dived into that world yet.

It was briefly announced that Saints Row The Third will be getting Move support as well, and Paramount Digital Entertaiment's Star Trek will be PlayStation Move enabled and in 3D, and there will be a Move controller released that looks like a phaser from J.J. Abrams' recent reboot. Not that surprising, since his company Bad Robot is also working on the game development. The game features the likenesses of Kirk and Spock from the film, and I have to admit, the Trekkie deep inside of me is pretty excited for this. I might even have to buy that damn phaser controller.

Some EA exclusives coming to the PlayStation 3: SSX will be getting a PS3 exclusive race down Mount Fiji, Need for Speed: The Run will have seven additional supercars, and Battlefield 3 will come with Battlefield 1943 on the disc. While these aren't blockbuster-level exclusives, they could be the deciding factors that dual-system owners consider when deciding which version to pick up.

Kaz Hirai then took the stage, and made fun of Tretton's tie. Way to class it up, Ridge Racer. He talked about how important the PlayStation Network is not only for home entertainment, but for portable entertainment as well. That served as a precursor to PlayStation Suite, which will be coming to multiple handheld "certified" devices, and we'll get information about that in the "near future." But even that just served as a kickoff announcement for the Sony Next Generation Portable, which we finally learned is going to be called the PlayStation Vita.

PSP2, PSP, PSP Go, NGP: A History of Sony's PlayStation Portables

That's right, the rumors were true. That's Vita as in "veeta," not Vita as in "vitamins." Or as in Velveeta. The cheese. While I'm not a fan of the name (but hey, I hated "Wii," as well, and look how that did), you can't deny that this thing isn't sexy as hell. I just hope the title lineup is good.

The system will have 3G and Wi-Fi models, and AT&T will be their partner on the nation's "fastest broadband network". The audience definitely did not like that one. There were literally gasps of surprise and outright boos. As an AT&T user, I feel their pain. The Vita will have some unique features, like Party and Near, allowing you to join rooms with other users, and to see who might be playing near you. It's a bit StreetPass-y, and we'll learn more about it later.

Then came the Vita-Demos (which I swear makes me think about Vitameatvegamin from I Love Lucy), kicking off with Uncharted: Golden Abyss. We were able to check this game out at a pre-E3 Sony event, and it looks extremely pretty. It utilizes literally every feature of the Vita, except possibly the cameras. You can tilt Drake in directions, use the back touchpad, the touchscreen, and more. Oh, and the dual analog sticks. It doesn't look nearly as complicated as it sounds, and it delivers extremely impressive graphics (and Uncharted!) to the palm of your hands. We'll be checking out later at the show, and they've brought different demos to show off, so stay tuned for more.

Ruin is a Vita title that promises to make RGP fans happy. It's an action-based RPG, and it features deep advancement, and tons of loot. Because who doesn't love loot in an RPG? It follows the Diablo or Torchlight method of gameplay, and while it may emulate those games heavily, it actually looks like a lot of fun. If the system launches with even just these two titles, I'll be a day one buyer. Additionally, the game will have a PS3 sku as well, and you'll be able to cloud-save your game and jump to the PS3, or vice versa and take your Vita on the go. That's an extremely neat feature that I wish more handhelds offered up. Are you listening, Nintendo?

ModNation Racers is also coming to the Vita, and it's a brand-new game, not a port, made to take advantage of all of the features of the new system.

ModNation Racers Hands-On Preview

They showed off how the system uses the front and back touch features to created terrain and build tracks in the game, and within moments you can create a fairly impressive track, complete with lakes, trees, and an Alpine village. You can adjust the lighting, and jump immediately into your track to give it a test drive, all rendered in real time. You can access all of the previously created ModNation Racers tracks from the PS3 version (over 2,000,000 tracks) from day one when the game launches.

Some games like Wipeout will use the Crossplay feature, that allows you to compete on the Vita and the PS3 at the same time. LittleBigPlanet will appear on the Vita as well, and will take advantage of all the features as well. Imagine building your LBP levels with a lot of touching, tilting, and tapping. It features some new multiplayer modes, like Pass and Play and Multitap, and it will give you the ability to use the photo to take pictures of something in real life and drop it into the toolbox. They showed off the Vita taking a photo of a girl's hairstyle, then erasing her face to instantly make a new wig for Sackboy. Pretty impressive stuff.

Street Fighter X Tekken got a huge cheer from the audience, and Yoshinori Ono, head of consumer game research and development at Capcom Japan took the stage to tell us that the game will be appearing on the Vita. Not only that, but Cole MacGrath from inFamous 2 will be joining the game as a playable character, and they showed off his moves in live gameplay from the system. One thing is for sure, Cole has been taking some steroids since his stint in inFamous 2. He's definitely bulked up in this game.

Capcom's Captivate Event Roundup: Street Fighter X Tekken, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Asura's Wrath, Dragon's Dogma, And More

Despite the impressive lineup of Vita titles coming to the system, the most jaw-dropping feature was the price. The Wi-Fi model will sell for $249, and $299 for the 3G model. Both of those announcements got huge, sustained applause from the crowd. And it will be out this holiday season. While they haven't announced a slate of release titles, over 80 titles are currently in development.

Sony, you've gone a long way towards paving over that PSN pothole, and towards making me need to get rid of my PSP.

Tretton then took the stage and said he was thinking about reviving that Ridge Racer line as payback for the ribbing over his tie. BAM, Hirai! You just got served. Luckily, we're still swooning over the Vita pricing to take much notice. Then, in a magical Lance Burton moment, the screens behind the stage lifted, revealing an enormous arcade section, and Taiko drummers pounding out a beat. With that, we're off to try out some new PlayStation wares. Stay tuned for more!

E3 2011 Sony Press Conference Details
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