Those who stayed up for Sony’s E3 conference were not disappointed, with exclusive content announces, impressive 3D and PS Move pushes, and the official debut of the PS Vita.
Sony E3 2011 Highlights
Watch video of the entire conference here.
Before the press conference began, Sony began handing out 3D glasses, suggesting another strong push of stereoscopic tech with supported titles like Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, an assumption that proved correct.
Outside, a carnival-like feel was backed up by food trucks, DJs, and and drinks. Nathan Drake stood at the entrance, handing out sandwiches to starving journos.
The event kicked off with a montage of first- and third-party games including Mortal Kombat, inFamous 2, Uncharted 3, and many, many more, before Jack Tretton arrived.
He welcomed 6,000 audience members as well as those joining us from home; Sony previously predicted over a million viewers.
The Sony executive took the first opportunity to personally address the extended audience regarding the PSN outage.
Commenting that press thrives on bad news, Tretton offered a “you’re welcome” to media and extended thanks to the help and support of third-party partners.
He apologised personally and on behalf of the company for any distress caused by the outage.
“It is you that both causes us to be humble and amazed by the amount of dedication and support you give to the PlayStation brand,” he said.
Tretton confirmed network activity had returned to 90 percent of the level prior to the outage.
Content partners were briefly highlighted, including MLB, NHL and Netflix, with the revelation that 30 percent of all Netflix use is PlayStation 3 based.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Naughty Dog’s Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra then came on stage to introduce Sony’s flagship PlayStation 3 franchise with a new demo of Uncharted 3.
Drake was seen sneaking around what looked like a cargo ship, engaging in stealth melee combat.
Spotting an enemy’s shadow around a corner, he pulled him into the shadows of a corridor and knocked him out, before descending a staircase to the bowls of the ship.
A short climb sequence later, Drake was ambushed by a pirate, but when the attacker attempter to tie him up, he responded with melee and gun fire, setting off a grenade in the process.
A fancy white sedan rolled away from the scene as water began to flood the cargo hold and Drake began a gun battle in the rapidly filling arena.
Evidence of Naughty Dog’s dynamic environments was clear, as the roiling waves rolled Drake into a area.
Trapped underwater by a piece of falling debris, Drake was forced to swim through murky air vents, pulling off a grate aft an on-screen button mash prompt.
As the demo drew to a close, Drake wasn’t out of trouble yet, rushing towards the camera down a corridor, away from a gush of water.
Naughty Dog then announced US players will have the chance to access the game’s full multiplayer – not a beta – through a promotion deal with Subway.
We were then treated to the game’s E3 trailer – with the audience experiencing it in 3D.
“We are going to sell a few copies of that bad boy,” Tretton concluded, chuckling.
Another 3D push
Insomniac’s Marcus Smith arrived to talk up the 3D-compatible Resistance 3, which will feature several different groups of survivors throughout the course of the plot.
The demo was presented in 3D, and introduced a young rebel group, the Remnants, based in St. Louis.
We saw an attempted ambush on the Chimera turn bad as ground troops were powered up by some sort of beam from support drones.
Skipping ahead slightly, the player was forced to retrieve a power core, the target of the mission, and leg it ahead of pursuing dropships.
Sony then highlighted upcoming HD, 3D-compatible collections – the God of War Origins collection, bundling revamped versions of the PSP spin-offs, as well as Team Ico classics.
Suddenly, Sony pulled a 3D surprise to tie it all together – a 24 inch PlayStation branded 3D display, which supports two users, viewing different image, on the same screen. The glasses needed for this sport active-shutter technology and will go for $69.99 individually.
However, the display will be bundled with Resistance 3, cables and 3D glasses for $499.
Sony then began warming up its Move catalogue, moving on to NBA 2K12, which will use PS Move in a new feature called NBA On the Move.
Promising to deliver “the best NBA simulation experience”, NBA On the Move is said to be accessible to everyone – including the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, who came on stage to demonstrate it.
“It’s so realistic it’s frightening,” Bryant commented. “Hats off to you, man. Kudos to you.”
NBA 2K12 is due on October 12 this year.
Tretton then welcomed Sports Champions veteran Umrao Mayer to show off Medieval Moves: Dead Man’s Quest, a new PS Move-only title.
The game doesn’t have any inventory or menu system, relying entirely on gestural controls, such as reaching back to a quiver to switch to a bow rather than throwing stars. Melee combat is possible too, with sword and board.
Mayer commented on the game’s 1:1 motion tracking, and said the game is not entirely linear, offering branching and secret paths. It’s due in autumn.
Tretton then waxed lyrical on the PS Move’s growing library, adding that PS Move enhances core experiences like inFamous 2, which will update with PS Move support later this year.
The trailer that followed showed off the game’s massive enemies plus plenty of high-octane action including battles against helicopters.
LittleBigPlanet 2 will also be updated with more Move support, adding “millions of new PS Move games to play” thanks to the huge library of user generated content.
Starhawk was up next, with a spaghetti western trailer slowly zooming out to galactic scale and ending with the words “welcome to the new frontier”.
Teasing a “family friendly franchise that even hardcore gamers couldn’t put down”, Tretton treated us to a surprise Insomniac trailer. Sly Cooper Thieves in Time is due in 2012.
CCP arrived to announce what its countdown site revealed this week – that Dust 514 will be a PlayStation 3 exclusive with Move support.
It will share a single persistant universe with EVE Online, and will even extend to the NGP when it releases in spring 2012.
The trailer that followed showed a polished shooter, and communication between ground troops and orbital units. A closed beta kicks off in Autumn.
Sony managed to score an exclusive BioShock: Infinite trailer, debuting the longest preview of the multi-platform title seen so far.
We got a look at skyway gameplay before Ken Levine arrived on stage to talk it up.
In a Gabe Newell-like retraction, Levine commented on his public criticism of motion control in core games, saying Sony pulled out all the stops to convince him.
“We’re talking about removing this barrier of entry to people who love your stores and love your world … what if they could play your game?” Sony reportedly asked Levine, before sending him a PS Move to play with.
“We’re gonna have PlayStation Move on BioShock: Infinite,” Levine confirmed in a rush, somewhat wryly.
Levine then teased a new Irrational game, set in the BioShock infinite, which he said had never really fit any platform – until the NGP.
Tretton then announced BioShock: Infinite will ship with a copy of the original BioShock on the same BluRay.
Sony really pushed the exclusive content this year; it’s partnering with THQ for an exclusive multiplayer mode in Saints Row 3.
Another partnership with Paramount sees exclusive content for the recently outed Star Trek game based on the recent JJ Abrams film, including a phaser peripheral for the PS Move. That’s due in 2012.
Shoring up EA’s own presser, Sony has struck a deal with the mega-publisher, and SSX will feature a PS3-only run down Mt Fuji. Epic.
Need for Speed Run PS3 will ship with an exclusive, extra BluRay with eight new super cars, and Battlefield 3 will ship with Battlefield 1943.
Goodbye NGP, hello PS Vita
Kaz Hirai turned up next to mock Jack Tretton’s tie, and incidentally, to do what we’ve all been waiting for – unveil the NGP.
Referencing Sony’s ten-year plan to introduce inter-connectivity in all its devices, Hirai also thanked consumers for their faith during the PSN outage.
Harking back to the 2004 release of the PSP, Hirai said that phones at the time could not deliver PlayStation content, but with PlayStation Suite – the Android platform – that has now changed, and the service willa ct as an entry drug for consoles.
On that note, Hirai teased us by reiterating the NGP’s known, gaming-centric features – the touch pad, dual cameras, and OLED screen, constantly referring to it as “our next generation portable”.
“What you’ve come to know as NGP … is officially named PlayStation Vita,” he finally revealed.
“What does Vita mean? Vita means life. We’re confident PS Vita will be the first product that blurs those lines between gaming and life,” he explained.
Harping on the ability for augmented reality inherent in the dual cameras, Hirai also highlighted 3G and wireless functions like social features, location-based gaming, and network gaming.
To a chorus of shocked moans and desultory, unimpressed applause from the US audience, Hirai announced Sony will be partnering exclusively with AT&T for 3G service on the Vita. Other territories’ carrier partnerships will be announced soon.
There will also be a number of AT&T Vita-specific hotspots going live.
Two network services were announced, Party and Near. The first allows players to form groups for gaming, while Near allows connections with nearby gamers.
Scott Rohde, president of SCE Worldwide Studios, turned up to introduce the console’s launch line up, starting with Uncharted: Golden Abyss from Sony Bend.
A short section of one level was demoed – the Temple of Serpents.
“The bar for production values is incredibly hard,” one of the Bend guys commented, highloighting the system’s memory, which allows for water shaders and dynamic lighting, so the game’s world looks and sounds as PlayStation 3 users expect.
The entire screen acted as a control, so in combat, players tap icons around the screen to fight. The Sixaxis gyroscopic controls were also demoed.
Touch controls can be used for traversal, too – drawing a line across a series of ledges to show Drake where to go.
Meanwhile, traditional controls can be used – “play how you want to”, is the game’s control design manifesto. Shooting mechanics using the twin analogue sticks allows for snapping from cover and other familiar Drake combat moves. Still, touch controls can be used to switch weapons.
There will be two demos of the game on the E3 floor.
Rohde came back to talk up “social action RPG” Ruin, a collaboration between Simple Minds and Sony San Diego.
We saw the Infernal Warrior in action on a dynamic battlefield.
Apparently keen to foster competitiveness, the game will feature a rivalry system which allows you to help, hinder or harm your nominated rival, and push your actions to social networks, the PSN, and the game’s community site.
As a player grows and levels up, his or her lair and protective dungeon evolve. And as this all happens in real time across the networks, you’ll need your Vita with you all the time.
The game will also feature a PS3 version which utilises cloud saves to blend seamlessly into the Vita version.
Next up was ModNation Racers, which is promised as an entirely new product, not a part of the PSP or PS3 version of the game.
Track creation was demoed, showing the touch screen used to trace a path before entering a 3D view mode to add jumps and other features.
The back touch panel was used to create background such as mountains, with the front lowered land to make a lake.
The PS Vita version of ModNation Racers will be able to use all the user gen content from the other versions from day one.
Rohde returned to reiterate the message of the Vita’s cross-platform connectivity – cloud saves, cross-platform multiplayer, and content sharing under the Play.Create.Share banner – which led, of course, straight into a LittleBigPlanet for PS Vita trailer.
Again, the touch screen is used to create content, and the game will be able to access all current LBP user-gen content.
Moving into third parties now, Capcom arrived to discuss Street Fighter X Tekken. InFamous 2′s Cole will be a PS Vita exclusive character.
The game’s latest build was shown off, running in real time, demonstrating Cole taking on Tekken’s Jin, his electrical moves and flying attacks gelling neatly with the Street Fighter system.
The PS Vita section closed out with a demo reel showing off a number of upcoming titles, including wipEout, ModNation Racers, Reality Fighter, Super Stardust Delta, Sound Shapes, Hot Shots Golf, Hustle Kings, Ruin, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss.
The PS Vita will be available by the end of the year, in both 3G and WiFi only models. The WiFi only model will go for $249 and €249. The 3G model will be $299 and €299.
Returning to stage, Tretton avenged his tie honour by referencing Hirai’s famous Ridge Racer moment before closing out the presser with the hope that the audience is as excited about PlayStation’s future as Sony is.
Shortly thereafter, a number of Taiko drummers kicked off a musical and multimedia entertainment section, and we thankfully tuned out.