Monday, 10 June 2013

Sony E3 Press Conference

Sony... Sony, Sony, Sony. My hats off to you guys, because there has not been a body slam like that since this one here. Only this one ends with Sony marching out triumphant and Microsoft walking away in tears. I literally cannot see a way back for Microsoft at this point, this launch period at the very least, they don't stand a chance in hell. Okay so onto the conference. This was possibly the best E3 in history, I know it's early to call this as Nintendo are going to have their hour-long Direct in less than nine hours and they're going to hopefully be bringing a lot to the table but not one of the conferences has been disappointing and this one was not the icing on the cake nor the cherry on top of the icing, or the cherry on top of the icing on top of the sundae of awesome. This was a whole extra cake added on and being told it tastes just as good but is completely sugar free and gives you superpowers. It really hit hard bringing out their strongest for what has turned out to be possibly the most epic E3 ever putting doubters like myself in their place.

Starting from the beginning, Jack Tretton stuts out on stage and essentially says "We know you've all been waiting for the PS4... so we're going to talk about the Vita". My instant reaction being "Give it a rest, the Vita is dead dude...". He starts talking about it, stats, PR bullshit, what have you. Now he's on about the PS3, yeah, yeah, get to it. Shows a bit of The Last of Us, the new game by Naughty Dog which is getting rave reviews at the moment.  Then a new game called Pupeteer takes the stage, looking interesting. Another game called Rain is shown, seems very stylistic, don't know anything really about it though. Beyond Two Souls goes out there, looks like an interesting mesh of Movie and Game starring Ellen Page. Gran Turismo 6 is unveiled, congratulations, you've successfully made the same game for about ten years now. They go on about "tessellation of polygons". I was getting a bit bored at this point to be honest. A bit more went on, we saw another CG trailer for Batman: Arkham Origins and a little bit of Grand Theft Auto V. These are all great games but nothing Sony should be bragging about too much, we knew they were coming and they were dragging time here. Well, from what I can tell, that was intentionally so.

Here begins the PlayStation 4. Starting out with finally showing the design, a somewhat unremarkable black box, or trapehzoid, nothing special. But the Sony Entertainment Network is expanding to include more movies, more music, and an Exclusive Sony Network of TV and Film on PSN Tailored specifically to gamers, whether this is like a Sony Netflix or their old shows and movies streaming for PSN+ customers, I'm not entirely sure. They're also bringing Redbox Instant, Live Events Viewer (A god send for me as I have no cable) and Flixster to PS3, Vita and PS4.

Onto some games; Killzone: Shadow Fall, we saw this at the February conference in New York. It was a somewhat unremarkable Sci-Fi First Person Shooter, as we expected. Nothing new, but it's a launch title none-the-less. Then there is DriveClub, a game free to PSN+ users on launch date, once again nothing new, same old. Next up is inFamous: Second Son, the spin-off title that actually looks pretty damn good if you ask me and something I hope that can be made to be a lot of fun. The trailer looked pretty slick, with the lip syncing almost perfect a rarity in video games because often mouths with move a bit, but it feels like a voice over, this felt like the voices were coming from their mouths, their lips truly moved. A New Steampunk game, called The Order: 1886, set in Victorian London, kinda looks like a cross between Dishonoured and what I assume is Arthurian Lore as they had a guy called Gallahad, and a quote from L'Morte De Arthur at the start, could be an interesting take to see some kind of Arthurian Legend revival in a Steampunk based setting. Knack seemed interesting a kind of action fun quirky game. Interesting visuals, a launch title. The Dark Sorcerer looks very nice, thought it was another cheesy generic dark western fantasy game turns out to be...well I have no idea, there was a green screen and a film crew involved and a bit of comedy.

Then they went onto the independent titles, right now Steam and Nintendo lead the way with indies, but Sony seems to be set to give them all a run for their money with the ability to self-publish content. Transistor, from the creators of Bastion looks pretty slick similar gameplay different setting and style, very nice looking. Don't Starve was another indie game shown off, didn't quite catch a lot of this as my stream kept failing on me. Mercenary Kings kind of a retro shooter along the lines of classic games like Metal Slug, from the creators of the Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World game. Young Horses, Rays, a Western Game, a space sim called Galaxy and a game I can't remember the name of because I was too busy laughing at Sony's ability to poke fun of their own bad meme by saying it's based on fact but does not contain any "Giant Enemy Crabs".

Then onto their blockbuster titles coming to PS4. Diablo III, without the always online requirement, and new Sony based items from games like Uncharted as special exclusives. And then what came next was like nothing we'd ever expected....

FINAL FANTASY Versus XIII... or should I say FINAL FANTASY XV. A Sony Exclusive taking the elements that were once a part of the fabled Versus game stuck in a hellish development cycle now put into Final Fantasy XV, a game that had gameplay that looked incredible, seemed to play smoothly and was visually stunning. For a Final Fantasy fan like myself, this was the killer blow to Microsoft, that was enough to make me get a PS4 over and Xbox but they didnt' stop there... Kingdom Hearts III. A game we've been waiting for since the days of the PS2. It's like Square Enix essentially have turned around and said "We're done f-ing around with mobile games, spin-offs and crap like that. We are bringing the big guns to the forefront!" Not to mention that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, which was being warmly received by this point after all the good news, was console exclusive to Sony. A Final Fantasy double and Kingdom Hearts III really has put them on the map. Let's hope they can deliver. After that they showed a little more of Watch_Dogs, which looks great as ever, some more of Assassin's Creed IV: The Black Flag. The Elder Scrolls: Online coming to PS3 with an exclusive first run beta of the game.

Then came the actual killer blow: in what almost seemed like a mockery of Microsoft, Sony tells us it will back the player, play used games, everything that is normal for us now, will continue and given recent fears it's great to see they've listened and totally gotten it right. They even released this hilarious commercial about how the PS4 shares used games and deliver a damaging blow to Microsoft. With Jack Tretton back on stage now gleaming ear-to-ear. What came next was well, to put it in Mortal Kombat terms, a "Fatality". The price point of the PS4 is... $399. That's one hundred dollars LESS than the XBox One and it includes all the exclusives mentioned, plus all the third party titles like Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. This killer blow to Microsoft has left them in the dust. Come Holiday Season 2013, there will be one winner and it's the PlayStation 4. They've also made Microsoft look so bad now that they might be forced to drop the anti-used games policy or good news for Nintendo fans like myself, it's likely many people will go for the Wii U also.

Final Thoughts: This conference was masterfully performed and has made me realise just how much I'm going to miss the crowd at tomorrow's Nintendo Direct. It's been an epic day at E3 and Sony has taken top prize delivering the best E3 Press Conference in recent memory if for no other reason than it has proved gamers still have a say.

Rating: 10/10 - PERFECT