Sony E3 2012 Press Conference Highlights

To kick things off, Jack Tretton (President and CEO of SCEA) welcomes David Cage to the stage. The creative mind behind Heavy Rain finally announces the next game from Quantic Dream, Beyond: Two Souls. Here’s what he had to say:

“Death is the biggest mystery of mankind. What will happen after we die is something no-one knows. We all have our hopes, our fears, our doubts. But what’s on the other side remains unknown. Jodie Holmes knows a little bit more about all this than you and I. As far as she remembers, she has always felt a link with an invisible entity. Some presence around her, a spirit or ghost; she doesn’t really know. Something living between our world and the other side. Beyond tells Jodie’s story over fifteen years of her life. We will see her growing, evolving, learning to live with a difference. And discovering more about what’s beyond. For the first time in a videogame we will live the life of a character, go with her through happy and difficult times and help her to become who she is.”

While promising further reveals over the coming months, Cage used the presentation to reveal the actress playing the role of Jodie: “I was looking for a talented young actress. Somebody who could embody Beyond’s lead role in a very unique way. And I’m proud to announce that Jodie Holme’s will be played by Academy Award nominee, Ellen Page.”

The following scenes were shown to the audience. Take a look.

So, we’ll presume Keanu Reeves was unavailable to vacantly sit in a chair. The video doesn’t really have that same kick as the Audition video for Heavy Rain or the Kara tech demo, although the character models are typically excellent. There are very few clues as to what gameplay will be like, although we’re expecting something similar to Heavy Rain, lots of quick time events and actions directly affecting the story with real consequences.  Ellen Page aside (sorry, she’s just awful), I’m still fairly excited about this, as Heavy Rain is one of the best titles on PS3 in my opinion.

Cage concludes: “Beyond will be unlike anything you have experienced before. It will be emotional, mature and unique. But also epic, breath-taking and spectacular. We want to create unique moments that players will remember for a long time. We invite you to a unique journey in the life of Jodie Holmes and if you make the right decisions, maybe you will discover what lies beyond.”

Moving on, Tretton returns to the stage and reminds us of the impressive feat of the Michael viral trailer getting more than ten million views in one week. If you’ve forgotten, the trailer showed lots of gaming heroes in a tavern, raising a glass in toast to Michael, or us, the gamer. Using the trailer as neat segue, Tretton says: “If you’re like me, you probably wondered what happened thirty minutes after that toast.” Of course there’s a good chance they’d get into an almighty pissed-up ruckus, which leaves us with…

PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale. In the style of Super Smash Bros, we can expect the like of Kratos, Nate Drake, Sweet Tooth, Parappa the Rapper, Sly Cooper, Fat Princess, Bioshock’s Big Daddy (dibs!) and many more to duke it out  over 2D stages. We knew the game was coming to PS3, but the introduction from the game’s developers informs us that the game will also be coming to PS Vita and will be cross-compatible with the PS3 version. The demonstration shows a four-player battle split between PS3 and Vita players. Take a look at the stage demo below to see the game in action.

It’s looking like a fun multiplayer game so far, but it may struggle for depth as a single-player experience, which is always a concern for games like this. Hopefully we’ll see lots of varied modes unveiled over the coming months.

Following that example of cross-play, Tretton reveals that Little Big Planet 2 players will soon be able to use the Vita as a ‘cross-controller’ via upcoming DLC. This will allow you to use the Vita in multiplayer with the PS3, giving Vita players their own screen and adding touchscreen elements to level editing. The new DLC will also include a new story mode.


Next up, some eagerly awaited Vita news. PlayStation Classics will be coming to Vita on PSN very soon, including the likes of Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy VII and Arc the Lad. Fingers crossed our PSN versions are compatible as re-purchasing them would be a kick in the gonads. The Vita will also be getting new video services Hulu Plus and Crackle, but more excitingly a proper YouTube app too, seeing as the shoddy browser doesn’t have flash support. Netflix is still on our wishlists too.

But what about new games? Thankfully Sony announced two big ones for us. Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified will be out this year as a Triple-A FPS for the Vita. The arena was collectively holding its breath for a live demo, but we’re let down with a solitary logo.

We do get to see some gameplay for the newly announced (wow, that’s two secrets Sony managed to keep before E3 for a change!) Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for the Vita. Set in 1769, New Orleans during the Louisiana Rebellion, the game will sit neatly alongside events of the console game. It’s great to see the Vita getting a dedicated game for a huge brand rather than a port. For the first time in the series we’ll be controlling a female assassin too, who looks a bit piratey. Liberation will see gamers climbing through small towns and murky swamps with familiar controls and also taking advantage of the Vita’s touch-screens, camera support and near functionality. ‘Cross-goods’ linked with the PS3 game will allow gamers to unlock Connor’s tomahawk, a character skin, an MP character and upgraded ammo pouches. Take a peek at the first trailer…

Assassin’s Creed III

Continuing Ubisoft’s impressive display at E3 we get to see the first gameplay footage of action that takes place at sea?! After seeing Connor charge across prairies and stalk prey in snowy forests I couldn’t have been more surprised to see him steering a large naval ship along a tropical coast. The water looks beautiful in postcard picture-perfect blue-green. Connor steers between narrow rocky gaps before being set upon by numerous enemy ships and cannon fire. Our assassin steers the ship into open waters, and as he does we see some of the dynamic weather changes that the devs mentioned as the sunny weather drains into a mild storm the further he gets from land. There’s no time to admire the weather though the crew must be commanded to fire cannons at enemy ships using a targeting column to unleash a wall of fiery steel. This looks unlike anything else on PS3; I don’t think I’ve fired any naval cannons since Sly 3 on PS2, so it’s great to see something so different for the Assassin’s Creed series which had certainly started to wane with Ezio’s repetitive outings. Take a look at the video for yourself below:

God of War: Ascension

Ok, initially I was really annoyed to hear we were getting another prequel instead of seeing Kratos head off to the Far East or Scandinavia to spill the drinks of other deities. But after a few seconds of looking at Ascension, all is forgiven. The combat looks slicker than ever and a few new moves can be glimpsed, most notably some meaty punches and blade-throwing. Kratos’ new (although he loses it before any of the other games) power to fix broken structures could be interesting as long as it involves something a bit more complicated than holding down a button. The Lego games have been milking that trick to death for a while now. The epic scale of the action looks set to dazzle once again as we see Kratos run along a flailing tentacle after lobotomising an ugly troll/elephant monstrosity. It’s all happening in real-time again and just looking astounding. Ok, Kratos, let’s rip up Ancient Greece one last time. Watch the video now!

The Last of Us

Watch the video of the gameplay footage and I’ll talk about it once you’ve seen it.

So, Naughty Dog have been playing a bit of Enslaved. Well, at least somebody has. The look of the Big Apple being reclaimed by nature is very similar to Ninja Theory’s game, but that’s just fine. When the action kicks in it raises a few questions. Who are the men that Joel attacks? Would we be able to play by avoiding them and just sneak out? Ammo is going to be very scarce, although the guy at the controls doesn’t seem to be worrying about being accurate with the handful of bullets he has.

The tiny aiming reticule looks difficult to work with, presumably this is to make us realise Joel isn’t Drake and gunplay is not going to be as frequent as Naughty Dog’s current champion. Melee combat looks brutal, yet slow and purposeful, I wouldn’t be surprised if handles in a similar way to Uncharted.

I’m hoping that some of the speech we’re hearing is dynamic. For example, when Ellie asks Joel if he’s ok after getting shot, is that a one off or will it become a repetitive sound bite? The same goes for when he uses a molotov. While some of the textures are a little bleary (the game is unfinished remember), I was impressed by little details like the coat hangers rattling when you lean on the wardrobe. Facial animation is top-notch, but that’s pretty much standard for this team.

A few gameplay questions came to mind during the course of the video. When Joel tries to fire the empty revolver and the ominous click draws in the other gunman, what would happen if we never tried to fire it? There’s no way we’d want to miss a moment like Ellie launching the brick into the guys face with a deliciously sickening crunch. A similar question with the last guy that Joel (probably) beheads with the shotgun blast; what happens if the trigger isn’t pulled?

A lot of what we’ve seen today looks like it was missing QTE prompts as the action seemed very scripted, admittedly very well. Uncharted 2 showed the world that Naughty Dog can allow us to play through what other games would reduce to a cutscene, so hopefully they can do it again with The Last of Us.

Final Thoughts

The PS3 seems to be in excellent health with The Last of Us, Beyond and God of War: Ascension all looking like killer-apps for the console. The future of the Move motion controllers is looking quite poor though with only the new Wonderbook (more peripheral clutter) showing the device in action for Book of Spells, a Pottermore spin-off. Sony could at least have shown Sports Champions 2 off as the original is still the best Move title out there. You get the feeling they’re slowly putting the Move out to pasture. I would have liked to see a few more Vita titles too, especially first-party ones like the MIA Killzone title or more Uncharted. Overall though, there’s a lot to look forwards to on Planet PlayStation.

Although next year, Mr. Tretton, you should bring back Kevin Butler. Wait, where the hell is that guy?

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