Sony, you're classier than I thought you were. You're probably asking yourself why that is? Well like Jack Tretton stated at the opening of the conference, Sony headed in with a big elephant in the room. Once more they offered a sincere apology for the Playstation Network intrusion. The apology wasn't just to consumers though but also to their publishing partners who also felt the bitter sting of this PSN outage. Quoting the man directly he had this to say about the developers and consumers who were effected by the PSN hack. "You are the lifeblood of the company," Tretton said. "Without you there is no PlayStation." While a lot of coverage lately has been negative in regards to Sony's handling of the hack, this was a stand up move on their part and they hoped that the conference moving forward would help restore fans' faith in the Playstation brand.
So from the get go this would be a bit of a battle for Sony but they seemed to find their footing fairly quickly as they moved into demos and trailers for their slate of upcoming exclusive games. This of course included some lengthy demos and new trailers for the likes of Uncharted 3, Resistance 3, and inFamous 2(releasing in stores tomorrow). The guys from Naughty Dog even dropped some interesting info that in a advertising campaign with Subway, gamers will be able to gain early access to Uncharted 3's multi-player mode. And that as a big point for Sony in this year's conference. Not so much that deal itself but the fact that they were reaching out to their partners to provide interesting and extra content. Together with third party publishers and developers, Sony has brought Move compatibility to a wide array of games which they proceeded to show off.
2K Games demoed the move interface for their NBA2K franchise while Ken Levine of Irrational Games(under 2K Games) came out to discuss how Sony sent the developer a Move developer kit after he made some disparaging remarks about the motion control in a recent interview. Since then he has gone on to incorporate Move control in unique ways that don't alienate hardcore gamers and will expand the appeal of Bioshock Infinite to casual audiences as well. Sony also highlighted their partnership with Bad Robot for a Move enabled PSN title that will be set in JJ Abrahm's Star Trek universe( and will come complete with a move peripheral shaped like a phaser!). Much like Microsoft's conference, Sony was all about showing how much the Move has grown as a peripheral and how much potential is still left to be discovered. While they didn't show off the Sorcery game that they announced last year, they did show a bit of a dungeon crawler which seamlessly let you move between sword fighting, using a cross-bow, and throwing ninja stars all with the Move controller.
Sony was also still pushing their 3D technology, heavily in fact. Just before the show they were still handing out 3-D glasses to the crowd which they prompted them for use during the show. Much like high-definition gaming and storage with the PS3 and Blu-Ray, Sony is pushing 3-D hard. Their intent is to make it an affordable option just as the PS3 made high definition gaming and movies an inexpensive option for consumers. To do this, they are introducing a 24 inch 3-D Playstation branded display screen. The screen comes bundled with a set of 3-D glasses, a copy of Resistance 3(with Move and 3-D support) and a 6 foot HDMI cable all for the price of $499. I'm not an advocate of 3-D gaming as I think much like 3-D movies they appeal to a niche audience and don't really add anything to the overall experience. However if you're a technophile and you just need that awesome 3-D display but you don't want to spend over $600 dollars for a decent sized display then this might be an option for you.
The big thing Sony had up its sleeve to reveal was their new handheld which we previously had been referring to as the Next Generation Portable. Recent leaks had a trademark filing for PS Vita uncovered and that is indeed the name Sony gave their new handheld tonight. The PS Vita will replace their Playstation Portable with a far superior machine, sporting a five-inch multi-touch screen, dual analog sticks, sixaxis motion detection, front and rear touch pads, front and rear facing cameras and will be available in both Wi-Fi and 3G/Wi-Fi capable formats. Not only this but Sony will be partnering with AT&T(I'm assuming for the 3G capabilities) and will offer the Wi-Fi only version for $249.99 and the 3G/Wi-Fi capable model for $299. Why is this a big deal? Well for one Sony priced itself out of the handheld market with the original PSP. Did people buy it? Yeah, but the Nintendo handhelds as the time had lower price points and more software support. Sony hopes to change this with a handheld with the base Wi-Fi model priced the same as the Nintendo 3DS which is currently struggling to catch fire in the sales department. So we'll see how this battle rages on once the PS Vita is released in late 2011.
But a handheld is only as good as its software and Sony went right to work detailing what will be on the NGP. Because the handheld can handle the graphics of the PS3 there seems to be a lot of crossover in what games will be appearing on the Vita. During it's Vita showcase, Sony showed off demos for a ModNationModNation Racers for the PS3 version of the game. They also demoed the Vita Uncharted game which handles exactly like its PS3 counterpart while seemingly being a side story for Nathan Drake and co. LittleBigPlanet will also make its way to the PS Vita complete with level and game creation tools previously seen in LittleBigPlanet 2 while offering touch controls for level creation and online multi-player. While I expected Sony to take big franchises like that and bring them to the Vita, I was shocked to see a Capcom representative come out on stage to demo a Vita version of Street Fighter X Tekken, looking amazingly smooth and exactly like the console version. The twist of course being the Vita version will come with inFamous' Cole as a playable character. Rounding out the titles shown off on stage for the Vita was a game called Ruin which will be a bit of a dungeon crawler type hack and slash game that will come with cross platform interactivity; allowing play between Vita players and PS3 players.
Sony had it's fair share of exclusive touting just as Microsoft did during their conference. Both companies like to beat their chests about their exclusive content and while Microsoft boasts about getting Call of Duty content first, Sony partnered with its third party developers to offer its own expanded content. Together with Electronic Arts and THQ, Sony will offer exclusive maps, bonus games and more for titles such as the newly rebooted SSX, Need for Speed: The Run, Battlefield 3, and Saints Row: The Third. Not only this but Sony will be bringing remastered games to the PS3 with added 3-D support in the forms of the God of War Origins collection which contains the two God of War games that were released on the PSP. The other collection appeals to a smaller audience in the form of the highly praised and award winning titles of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus which will release in September on the PS3.
As far as brand new intellectual properties are concerned, Sony only introduced one while bringing back an old favorite. While Sucker Punch studios delivers inFamous 2 to consumers across the world tomorrow, they are in the midst of reviving one of their creations from the PS2 era in a brand new Sly Cooper game which is due out in 2012. The character is a fan favorite so it was a nice to see Sony going back to a franchise that helped make the PS2 so successful. On the other end of the spectrum Sony introduced what seemed to be a new first person shooter franchise in the form of a PSN exclusive title called Dust 514. It will also have a PS Vita tie in game and considering Sony is pushing cross compatibility I'm sure that will be included as well. Dust 514 is still a bit of a mystery but the studio is eying a spring 2012 with a close beta coming later this year. Should be interesting.
So that was Sony's show in a nutshell. They came out and apologized once again for the PSN network intrusion not only to fans but to their development partners and they promised to give us looks into their line up that would hopefully restore our faith in the product line. They came out swinging and I think the delivered exactly what they needed to in order to show that no matter what, they're still in the business of delivering a quality experience to their customers. They were a little light in terms of what developments they'll be doing in terms of the PSN, only announcing a deal that will bring added movies and programming to the PSN but I think that's more about them making sure the network is secure before they start announcing new content to be rolled out over the PSN. In terms of games they really delivered and the price point of the Vita keeps them competitive with Nintendo and the 3DS which is currently struggling to find a foothold since its release. With the right launch line up and proper software support, the Vita can really take off where the PSP failed. Overall, I think this was a strong showing for Sony.