E3 2012: Sony Conference Recap

Like Microsoft, Sony had both games and gimmicks at their conference.  On one hand, while I liked the games shown at Sony’s conference a lot more, I think Sony’s failings were a good deal more disheartening.  It’s kind of a painful conference, really, and not because it was boring.

Sony’s conference had some really heavy hitters.  Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream showed off their newest game, Beyond: Two Souls, which looks really great.  The graphics are pretty awesome, and I think I see facial animations even better than L.A. Noire’s.  Now, I’m aware that there were many people who didn’t like Heavy Rain because it seemed less like a game and more like an interactive movie.  While I imagine Beyond won’t convert them, as it still uses Heavy Rain’s QTE style, but it also looks as if gameplay is more prominent.  In Beyond, you can interact with the environment through the some sort of ghostly presence, like in 2011’s Ghost Trick.  It also has Ellen Page.  I know for a fact that she has tons of fans, and while I am not one of them, I figure she’s a lot more fitting than the guys they used for Heavy Rain.

This is looking better than L.A. Noire already!

Moving on, Ubisoft showed off a totally new side to Assassin’s Creed III, with the addition of naval battles!  That’s right, you can captain a ship and sail the seas, fighting off other ships.  While I have no clue how this fits into the game, it looked pretty impressive, if a bit simple.  Still, this will probably be the closest we get to a Pirates of the Caribbean experience, so I’m not complaining.  Additionally, Assassin’s Creed III is getting exclusive DLC on the PS3 (this doesn’t happen very often).

Sony also showed some gameplay footage of The Last of Us, which they swear up and down is not scripted.  Anyway, The Last of Us looks like Uncharted now conscious with the fact that you actually murder a whole lot of people in those games.  Anyway, the game looks pretty great, despite looking a whole lot like Uncharted.  Unlike Uncharted, which felt like a trilogy of action movies, The Last of Us seems very ugly, in comparison.  And I don’t mean that in a bad way.  Gunfights look really dangerous and intense, and something you should try to avoid whenever possible.  In fact, I’d say The Last of Us seems to be more of a survival type of game, rather than a straight up shooter, due to actual health bars, low ammo counts, and a real-time inventory and item combination system, among others.  While the presence of Ellen Pa—I mean, Ellie, may make the game seem like a constant escort mission, she never got in the way, and even got the player character out of a few close binds.  Anyway, The Last of Us looks like a very brutal survival experience.  I also get the feeling that it’s nonlinear, and if that’s true, then the game will be pretty fantastic.

It's amazing how refreshing seeing a life bar is.

The other things shown weren’t so awe-inspiring.  God of War: Ascension was confirmed, though I’m not a fan of the series, so the game looks really similar to previous outings.  I’ll wait and see how this shapes up.  We got more All-Stars info, which pretty much sets All-Stars as a Super Smash Bros. clone (though that’s never a bad thing, as there aren’t enough mascot fighters).  Far Cry 3 was also shown, with four-player co-op, a map editor, and free exclusive DLC for the PS3 (something going on between you and Sony, Ubi?).

Meanwhile, I think Sony dropped the bomb with the Vita.  You can now play PS1 games on the Vita!  I have no clue why that wasn’t a feature from the beginning, but that’s certainly a plus.  Activision is making a Black Ops spinoff for the Vita, and Ubisoft is Assassin’s Creed III spinoff for the Vita, as well.  Additionally, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is being built from the ground up for the Vita.  There’s also going to be All-Stars for the Vita, and that has cross-play with the PS3 version.  Oh yeah, and you can play LittleBigPlanet 2 with the Vita (this whole second screen thing is starting to sound familiar).  All in all, it seems as if Sony’s treating the Vita as an accessory for the PS3, rather than its own device.  At the same time, you have to drop $250 to get one.  I honestly don’t know what Sony’s doing here, but they haven’t exactly convinced a lot of people to pick up a Vita.  Hell, I was on the fence before, but I’m almost entirely convinced that a Vita isn’t worth it now.

Yes Sony, this one game is surely going to move a bunch of Vita units.

Their other new feature, Wonderbook, is an interactive, pop-up book feature using the Move.  It seems to be a spiritual successor to the EyeToy.  While I found the EyeToy’s augmented reality features rather fun back in the day, it got pretty stale rather quickly.  And that’s exactly the direction Wonderbook seems like it’ll go.  However, Sony is being rather smart about this.  The Wonderbook is there to sell the Move, since I don’t think it was doing all that well (though I could be wrong about this).  Sony also has an ace up their sleeves: J.K. Rowling.  Yeah, she’s collaborating to make a Wonderbook that’s pretty much a magic compendium.  So with this, they’ve definitely got the Harry Potter fanbase on board.  Still, I can’t deny that Wonderbooks could be fun, as I found the EyeToy to be back in the day.  However, I don’t know if it’ll have much lasting appeal, especially for gamers.  Hell, I don’t even know if gamers will even be interested.  Guess I’ll sit Wonderbooks out.

Sony showing off how playing with fire is always a good idea. You can even put it out with your hands too, it's totally safe!

All in all, while seeing the Vita getting shafted is disappointing, the games shown made the conference really enjoyable.  Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale looks pretty fun, Beyond looks like it’ll be a blast, Assassin’s Creed looks incredible, and The Last of Us will very likely be an unforgettable experience.  So though I see no reason to pick up a Vita or a Move, I’m glad to know that there’s still a ton of life left in the PS3.

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Laevatein

A mad scientist who's so cool!

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