After looking at Microsoft’s and Nintendo’s press conferences, it’s time to focus on Sony. You can watch the entire conference at the bottom of this page.
Well if Microsoft’s theme was “screw the hardcore gamer” and Nintendo’s was “screw the casual gamer”, Sony’s theme was “in 3D”. I couldn’t count how many times they repeated that phrase.
The problem is, we don’t really care about 3D. There are so many reasons to ignore 3D, the least of which are those stupid glasses you have to wear. I won’t get into an anti-3D rant here, but I’ll just say this: I have given 3D many chances. Dating back to the GeForce 2 GTS we reviewed 10 years ago (which used identical technology they’re using today), to most recently attempting to watch Alice in Wonderland in 3D at the theatre. But no matter how many chances I give it, it just fails to deliver.
But I digress. Let’s forget about 3D for now. A lot of people are. What does that leave for Sony’s E3 2010 keynote?
Playstation Move – Wii Too too? Maybe not…
We can’t call Kinect a failure just yet. Sure, the games they showed this year were nothing more than ripoffs of Wii games nobody plays anymore, and they failed to deliver a totally unique experience. But it’s still early, and they have the opportunity to make some actual games for it, before the end of the year.
So how does the Move compare? Will gamers be interested?
The first game they showed was Sorcery. This was probably the perfect game to show how Move can make actual games fun and interesting with motion control. The way the wand follows the players movements accurately (but not 1:1 as they claim) was impressive, and it looked very fun to mix and match spells to kill critters. Would this be possible with the other systems? Probably… Wii Motion Plus could do it easily, and Kinect could probably do it as well (I’m sure you could hold a ruler for it to track, or something). Still, it was a great demo, and made Move look great.
Next came Tiger Woods Golf, which I have to admit I normally have absolutely no interest in. But the way it tracked motions was pretty impressive. I’m not sure how much trickery went into it, as the guy talked about how he normally shoots a “draw” (or a “hook”, I can’t remember) but in the game the shots seemed to go perfectly straight. And he still made par (with a mulligan on his first shot) – could he do that in real life? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
This does remind me of when we got our Wii, and my wife’s Dad and his brother – both avid golfers – gave Wii Sports Golf a try. They both hated it, as you can image, because the controls don’t follow your actual movements at all. Tiger Woods probably doesn’t have to be 100% precise to be fun for gamers, but it has to do a good job if they want to open up to actual golfers.
They showed a quick video of a game featuring most of Sony’s gaming mascots, but there was no sense of what the game would be like other than it is controlled by Move.
And that was it for Move. Seriously. They did mention that some games by name – Socom 4, Time Crisis Razing Storm, NBA 2K11, Ruse: The Art of Deception, Killzone 3 (the game was demoed at the beginning, but without Move), Singstar Dance, Echochrome ii, and EyePet.
In addition to that, some current games will have Move support added. Toy Story 3, Heavy Rain (which could be cool), and Resident Evil 5 (will Move fix the terrible tank-like controls?).
They did reveal some details though. It’ll be out very soon – September 19 in North America. It will be available in 3 different packages:
- The motion controller (just the wand, not the navigation controller) is $49.99. For some reason the press cheered this. The Navigation Controller – which you will need to play most of the action games, is $29.99. So $80 all together, if you are one of the 13 people who already own a Playstation Eye camera peripheral.
- If you don’t have the camera, you need to buy the bundle, which includes one wand and a camera for $99.99, then you have to buy the Navigation Controller for $29.99. So $130 all together, to be able to play Playstation Move by yourself. Should we mention now that you can buy an XBOX 360 Arcade (yes an actual console) for $150 right now?
- There will also be a console bundle, including a PS3, a wand, and a camera for $399.99 (you must still buy a Navigation Controller for $29.99).
- And yes, we have found out since the press conference occurred, that you can using a DualShock 3 controller instead of the $30 Navigation Controller. The problem being, of course, that the DualShock was never intended to be used with one hand, and that’s the whole reason the Navigation Controller was created.
So we know a bit more about Move, like how damn expensive it is, and how well it tracks, but that’s about it. How fun is it in games? Again, we’ll have to wait and see I guess. After seeing their demo compilation (with more casual titles than they mentioned above), I have to say, I don’t think we really need to play games like Socom 4 while pretending to hold a gun. Granted, I am in the camp that can’t stand playing FPS games with a controller. So if Move finally gives us decent alternative to mouse controls, that will be a good thing.
The big PSP announcement: “we’re marketing it”
Some people ignorantly expected Sony to announce a PSP2, but that didn’t happen. Instead, we learned about their new marketing campaign. Woo! The kid has great delivery though, I have to admit. They also announced (but didn’t show more than a few seconds of footage of) a few games, with Jack Tretton listing them off as if he was about to fall asleep. No huge announcements here.
And that was it for PSP. Seriously.
Oh by the way, Playstation Home still exists.
Now for the big exclusives! Right?
I have to admit, I never really got into Little Big Planet, so LBP2 doesn’t exactly excite me. The controls of the first were just too… crappy.. for me to enjoy. And I have no interest in creating levels. Their demo started with my most despised gameplay style in 25+ years of gaming – matching button presses to the screen (unless it’s on a guitar shaped controller with great music, of course!). The rest of the demo was… well I guess it would have been interesting if you were a hardcore LBP fan. They seemed to focus mostly on tools and features for people who want to develop games with the level creator.
At the beginning of the show, they demoed Killzone 3. It was what you’d expect, but with jetpacks. Actually the jetpack platforming looked really cool. Aside from that, it was more Killzone.. Lots of killing aliens, and lots of grey and brown. They mentioned that it will support Move, but I guess it wasn’t ready to demo for this year’s E3. The game will be out next year.
They also showed a trailer for InFamous 2, which looks a lot like InFamous 1 but with tattoos.
And the huge exclusive announcement that chose to leave us with was a new Twisted Metal game! David Jaffe lied to us! They showed some multiplayer footage, and it looked fun. Nothing mind-blowing, but pretty fun! They added flying vehicles too.
And that was it for big exclusive gameplay demos. Seriously.
Third party exclusive titles are quickly becoming a thing of the past, as is evident in the lack of huge shocking announcements by Microsoft and Sony. Instead, the only big announcements we hear are that games that were formerly exclusive are now available on both consoles. We saw that with Metal Gear Solid: Rising at Microsoft last year. Sony’s big “it’s going to be on our console too!” this year was Valve’s Portal 2. For what it’s worth, Gabe Newell said that the PS3 version will be the “best version on any console”. I am guessing this is because XBOX 360 won’t be able to offer Steam features such as SteamCloud, which lets you keep save files and such on Steam’s servers rather than your own.
The other type of non-exclusive exclusive announcements that can be made are exclusive betas, limited edition bundles, and so on. That’s what Sony had today – a Medal of Honor limited edition bundle that will only be available for PS3, which includes a remastered HD version of MoH: Frontline from 2002. “two full games for just one price”. They actually said that.
Another exclusive limited edition bundle was Dead Space 2, which will include a port of the Wii game Dead Space Extraction for Move.
And there was something about “exclusive content” being available for the PS3 versions of Mafia II and Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, but they weren’t quite clear on what that was. I think Jack is ready to pass out any moment now. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood will have an exclusive beta on PSN.
PlayStation Plus – you already get free online gaming, so what do you get for $50 a year?
Tretton took his 5th or 6th dig at Microsoft, saying that you already get XBLA Gold features on the Playstation Network for free. Yeah, not quite. So for the gamers who want more, they are offering PlayStation Plus. More of what though?
- “early” demos
- Beta invites
- Some full PSN games, themes, and Mini games
- Discounts at the PSN store
- PUSH downloading of demos and firmware updates (seriously, they are asking you to pay for this!)
If you subscribe within the first month, you get to download the full version of Wipeout HD, a “title trial” for InFamous (sorry, no idea what that means), Field Runners and Age of Zombies (PSN Minis), and Rally Cross (the “PS1 Classic”. Really?). And some other stuff. If your subscription runs out, you lose all this awesome stuff. This is the type of thing that we were always worried about with downloadable content, and one of the reasons OnLive’s pricing scheme was not received well. Not only do you not get to own a physical copy of these games, you also lose them once you stop paying the $50 yearly fee.
If Sony actually believes they are already delivering a multiplayer experience similar to XBLA Gold, they have already sabotaged PlayStation Plus. They had a chance to offer an actual premium gaming experience, but are instead using it to push demos to users. Basically, you’ll be paying to have them pitch products to you each month. If their idea of a premium service is to toss some old PSN and PS1 games your way (Rally Cross? Seriously?) and take them away when your subscription runs out, I have to say this is a big fat fail.
PHEW. That was a long conference, but with shockingly not much in the way of huge exclusive announcements. The biggest surprise was probably Portal 2, but that will be on XBOX 360 as well (and will be best played on PC anyway).
Other than that, PlayStation Plus seems like a huge flop. Do Sony really believe that they already offer a multiplayer experience similar to XBLA Gold? It seems like they wanted so desperately to get people to pay for something, that they cobbled up a bunch of “content” like old PSN games, old PS1 games, and $1 PSN minis to entice gamers. Good luck with that, guys.
After dissecting all three shows, I have to give Nintendo the huge win this year. They announced a ton of games that core gamers will love, and mostly ignored the crappy casual games we’re all sick of hearing about (even the casual audience seems to be growing tired of it by now). Easily an “A” show.
Microsoft’s show, with Kinect appearing like nothing other than a Wii copycat (even though it has so much more potential) was probably a “D” at best. They showed a couple cool demos, but the best ones (CoD Black Ops and MGS Rising) will be on PS3 anyway.
Likewise, the best games from Sony’s conference will be available on the 360 as well. And despite EA’s claims of getting “two games for the price of one” when you pay more for the exclusive limited edition of Dead Space 2 and Medal of Honor, the experience on XBOX 360 will be at least as good (if not better, if you are really into multiplayer).
Move looks like it has the potential to be the motion controller for actual gamers, with Sorcery having a good showing. But aside from shoehorning motion controls into other games, there wasn’t much to see. I am shocked at how expensive it is though – $130 for the camera, wand, and navigation controller. Then another $80 if you want a second set. That’s $210 for a pair of motion controllers, when you can buy a full XBOX 360 Arcade right now for less. We’ll give Sony a “C+” today. Not as big a flop as Microsoft, but nowhere near as good as Nintendo’s showing.