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E3 – Day Two (cont.): Sony

Posted by g3tech on July 12, 2007

Could Sony have been in a weaker position going into E3? Lacking in excitement, floundering in the charts and on the back foot after a rushed price cut announcement, all was not well in the PlayStation 3 camp, and the less said about the underperforming PSP, the better. But following today’s surprisingly strong press conference, where Sony detailed its lineup of games for both platforms in detail, it’s become much easier to be optimistic about the PS3’s future. Read on for all the details.

First out of the gate was Sony’s widely predicted redesign of the PSP hardware. Now 19% slimmer, 33% lighter and with improved battery life and faster loading times, the redesign doesn’t change the ergonomics of the machine too much, but no doubt the reduced size will improve its portability. For when you’re at home, the new machine includes a video-out port, so you can play your PSP games (or movies) on your big screen. It’ll go on sale later this year.

Somewhat bizarrely, Sony’s next guest was Star Wars stalwart Chewbacca, who strode on stage clutching a slimline PSP which bore a natty white finish and a portrait of Darth Vader on the back. It’ll go on sale alongside the standard black model, packaged with a copy of the PSP exclusive Battlefront: Renegade Squadron. Sony also announced an Ice White PSP model, which will sell as part of a $199.99 Entertainment Pack together with a 1 GB memory stick, hit game Daxter, and a set of Family Guy episodes on UMD.

Next up was one of the conference’s new announcements: a minimalist puzzle game called Echochrome. Presented in a simple black-and-white wireframe, it depicts a small artists’ modeling figure walking across a complex wireframe object which the player can rotate through three dimensions to keep him heading in the right direction. Crisp and graceful, it’ll be available on PS3 through the PlayStation Network and on the PSP via a conventional, in-store release by next March.

More announcements followed, the first of which (in “eye-blistering” 1080p resolution and at 60 frames per second) is the next in the Wipeout series of futuristic racers, Wipeout HD. An all-new game follows: called Pain, it was just shown as a trailer, but seemed to consist of flipping a poor unfortunate man into a variety of realistically rendered, physically accurate painful collisions with assorted road-going vehicles. Sold.

Sony exec Phil Harrison followed up the videos with a look at the latest developments to Sony’s PlayStation 3 online social world, Home. Harrison snaps a picture of the crowd with his cellphone, then uploads it to his space in Home, where it appears, framed, on the wall. Next, he snaps another picture of his Home avatar standing next to the crowd shot, and sends that to a new social networking website Sony will launch with Home. It’s an impressively seamless system.

Always a crowd-pleaser, Sony’s next big unveiling is a new trailer for stealth action game Metal Gear Solid IV. Series creator Hideo Kojima introduced the trailer himself, and took the opportunity to let the crowd know that not only would this be the last outing for series star Snake, but also the last Metal Gear game that will boast his involvement. “All the story plot, the characters, the mysteries, will be revealed,” he said, and segued into a superb trailer that first depicted Snake – voiced, as always, by David Hayter – slinking through a bustling military depot. It was followed by a stunningly epic hand-to-hand battle between MGS icon Raiden and an unknown (but totally badass) foe.

That wasn’t the only impressive trailer Sony had to show. The rapt crowd was also treated to new footage of Heavenly Sword, Folklore, social platformer LittleBigPlanet (showing a brief glimpse of the game’s intuitive level creation facilities) and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, NaughtyDog’s detailed third-person action title.

The great games kept coming. Next, a new announcement: Infamous, from Sly Cooper developer Suckerpunch, in which you “choose your path between superhero and antihero”. Looked like Crackdown to us, but with an ultrarealistic, contemporary look and hints of a far, far darker plot.

From Infamous, Sony moved onto another, more famous name: the next in the Gran Turismo series. Called Gran Turismo 5: Prologue, it’ll release as a download ahead of GT5’s full release, and it’s looking gorgeous.

Finally, Harrison showed off new Killzone 2 footage, introducing it with an assurance that everything shown was real-time gameplay footage. (Sony took considerable criticism after Killzone 2 footage shown at last year’s E3, purported to be in-game scenes, turned out to be pre-generated canned renders.) If this is how Killzone 2 is really going to look, sign us up.

Could Sony’s E3 kickoff have gone any better? It’s hard to see how: only the rumored new rumble-equipped controller failed to make a showing, and the portfolio of PS3 games on show were world-class. At least on the evidence of today’s performance, Sony’s back in the race.

Posted in Battlefront: Renegade Squadron, Computers, E3, Echochrome, Folklore, Gran Turismo 5: Prologue, Heavenly Sword, Infamous, Killzone 2, LittleBigPlanet, Metal Gear Solid 4, Pain, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Wipeout HD | Leave a Comment »