Recap: E3 Sony Keynote Conference

Today brought another day of festivities at Electronic Entertainment Expo, colloquially known as E3. While there were games, events, and other random happenings, the main draw today was the Sony Keynote Conference at 3pm EST. This event drew tens of thousands of live-stream viewers, and caused a few technical hiccups (G4 feed not starting on time, feeds crashing, global warming, etc..). Once  the technical difficulties were sorted out however, we were all treated to Sony’s plans for the PS3 and PSP systems.

After a nice intro movie, composed of snippets we would see often during the conference itself, we started to get into the meat of Sony’s presentation. First up was Jack Tretton, giving us a rehash of Sony’s previous plans. While not really introducing any new information, it was a very good segue into the introduction of Kaz Hirai. His presentation is all about how Playstation will pioneer the 3D environment, similar to how they pioneered the Bluray disc format. The PS3 is already capable of running 3D games, but a 3D HDTV is still necessary to actually get the 3D effects. Sony already has 4 titles that are 3D compatible, and promise 20 titles coming by the end of March 2011.

The demonstration of the PS3’s 3D effects? A live demo of Killzone 3. While we, the home viewer are incapable of actually getting the 3D effect, I can easily imagine how intense such a game would be. Something to notice is that this demo is still ‘Pre-Alpha Code’, so for all those who complain about the graphical problems present in the demo, pipe down and enjoy the 3D bloodbath. The graphics will only get better given time.

That rather impressive demo was followed up by the announcement that it would be released by Feb 2011, and that it would be ‘Fully compatible with the Playstation MOVE’ on release. After harking on about 3D, Kaz drops the first important bomb. For all of those who have been waiting, Gran Turismo 5 now has an actual release date AND will be fully 3D on release. Further 3D releases include Mortal Kombat, The Sly Collection, and a number of others. This part of the conference was capped off by a video containing a number of different scenes from upcoming 3D titles. Honestly the only striking part of this video to me was Kung Lao flinging his hat out of the screen and chopping someone in half during the Mortal Kombat section.

A brief discussion on the popularity of the PS2 and PS3 consoles later, and we were treated to what turns out to be the only real hardware demonstration of the entire conference. So, for all those who were hoping to see the PSP2, PS4, or any number of other rumored devices, you’re out of luck. All we get to see is the Playstation MOVE, something debuted a few months ago. Technical details aside, this part of the conference was really the weakest. Hearing hype about a device from a developer doesn’t necessarily mean all that much, as some of us learned after we played Red Steel, a debut game intended to showcase the properties of the Wiimote.

The demo games for the Playstation MOVE were Sorcery and Tiger Woods PGA Tour umpteen million. Sorcery, while seeming a bit like a Harry Potter knockoff, still managed to showcase how fluent the PS-MOVE was. Flipping the controller around, it was possible to cast spells, drink potions, and fling stuff around. There was a bit of lag apparent between the motions of the user and the character, but at this stage that is to be expected. After Sorcery, came golf. Not entirely sure why they chose golf over any of the other things that they could use the MOVE to simulate, but hey, life goes on.  Furthermore, the fact that the demo player constantly commented on how hard this was for him to accomplish golf shots felt hollow. It feels like a deliberate ploy to try and gain audience sympathy and/or attention. To round off the PS-MOVE presentation was a speech by Kevin Butler, Sony’s american front man. And what a job he did. He rallied the crowd, making jokes and sniping at both the Xbox360 and the Wii. He was able to bring back some of the enthusiasm that was lost during the MOVE demonstrations, allowing the PS-MOVE bundle pricing to slip by somewhat unnoticed. At 49.99 for the MOVE controller, game+controller+eye for 99.99, and PS3+controller+eye+game for 399.99, it’s a little on the expensive side.

And then, there’s the PSP. And, well, all we really see is that there’s a new campaign, and a number of game titles coming to the system (Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Valkyria Chronicles 2, and the 3rd Birthday are three easy to remember highlights). Personally I was hoping for some new technical things, as my current PSP is both old and pushed as far as it can go. However, the promise of interesting new games will definitely cause me to revisit my PSP, even if but for a brief period.

Post PSP and there’s…. the Playstation Network. One very fun gimmick is the introduction of a virtual E3 contained within Playstation Home, a place where users can go to experience the Sony part of E3 even without being there. After that, Little Big Planet 2. With the introduction of a host of new features, LBP2 promises to be not just a game, but a ‘platform for games’. By showcasing a number of user generated LBP2 ‘games’, we can see that there is a lot of possibility present in this game. All the ‘games’ showcased were fairly unique, with none of the games really seeming to be the same.

Playstation Plus seems somewhat interesting, but of course is charges money. 49.99 for 1 year is the same price as Xbox Live, so it’s not an unreasonable cost. One thing that is somewhat bothersome however is the fact that you only ‘own’ items while you have your subscription. When your subscription is up, bam, no more content.

A quick run through Medal of Honor and a new Dead Space 2 demo, and we see another conference bomb: Portal 2 for the PS3. An interesting tidbit is the fact that he’s inferencing a relationship between Steam and the PSN, something which could lead to a lot of good times. After a very nice looking trailer with voice overs by good old GLaDOS, we’re treated to another very nice looking trailer: Final Fantasy XIV. This is an MMO title, and apparently PS3 exclusive so far. This does surprise me a bit, as the number of PC players who play MMOs is staggering. Perhaps they don’t want competition with other MMOs, perhaps not, who knows.

Further trailers include Mafia II, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and a rather promising one of inFamous 2. Honestly though, what I feel is the biggest bomb is saved for the final few minutes of the conference. We’re treated to a few cabbies discussing a game, and then we hear an old, familiar tune. The sound of an Ice Cream truck. And then a clown. A clown with a flaming head. For those of you who haven’t figured out what it is, this is the return of TWISTED METAL. This was capped off by Sweet Tooth’s truck driving up onto stage, complete with creepy clown faced driver. Luckily enough, we’re treated to a demo of the multiplayer features of the new Twisted Metal, which shows us a number of new features. Notably, Twisted Metal now also takes place in the air. Helicopter abound, raining down death upon players driving around in cars, bikes, an ambulance, and all sorts of other soon to be destroyed vehicles. We also get to see the multiplayer mode Nuke, an odd take on CTF. Killing your enemies, catching their leader, dragging them to your missile launcher, and then tossing them into it is certainly not your average run of the mill game. One fun thing to notice here that isn’t really highlighted is the fact that these maps are humongous. Not only that, but there are a lot of players on screen, which promises all sorts of bloody good times.

And that’s it. A few closing words later, and the Sony Keynote Conference is over.


Lots of info on 3D: 3D Killzone 3 looks like a lot of fun

3D Mortal Kombat: Hilariously awesome

PS-Move: Somewhat overpriced, but if it works as promised will be a great addition

PSP: New games, new campaign, no new hardware.

Gran Turismo 5: Actually coming out. Hallelujah.

PSN-Plus: Xbox Live for sony

Portal 2: Yes.

Twisted Metal for the PS3: Show me where I can give them my money.

That’s it for me. Cheers.

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Andrew Ready
Undergraduate student at Purdue University, studying the wacky field of Biomedical Engineering. During my free time I enjoy reading books on my Kindle, playing video games, or trying to figure out how to build inefficient electronic doohickeys.