I realized something, watching Sony's E3 2012 press presentation on my computer, that I'd actually never seen their conference before. Every year, someone else was always assigned that gig, so I never realized just how tedious it can be. There's an awful lot of talk. And also lots of walking on and off stage that if timed better, could cut easily 20 minutes off the running time. You know, like the Oscars.
That said, Sony one-upped Microsoft by having actual exclusives amidst all the multi-platform games, so that's a point in their favor.
They opened with the new title from Quantic Dream, the creators of Heavy Rain. This one's called Beyond: Two Souls, and what was shown revealed very little. Ellen Page is performing the lead character, and as the cop questioning her also looked familiar, I think we're going to have another round of "Name the Character Actor" game-within-a-game I enjoyed in L.A. Noire. Basically, the girl has some kind of powers, and the government is after her. At the end of the trailer, I felt like Beyond was a movie I wanted to see, so it's even cooler that it's a game I get to play.
Next up was PlayStation All-Stars, which they revealed would also be released on Vita and then demoed by having two people play on the PS3, and two on the Vita. I'm really intrigued by this cross-platform play. Although I do find it interesting that after people made fun of the Wii U tablet controller, now Microsoft is finding ways to connect to the tablets/phones you already own and Sony wants you to use the Vita in the same way. Oh, and to no one's surprise, Nathan Drake is going to be a playable character. Slightly more surprising is Big Daddy.
Some indie games were mentioned with 200 downloadable games headed for the PlayStation Network. Also, PS1 classics are coming to the Vita, if you'd like to play the original Tomb Raider or Final Fantasy VII on the go. Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified is coming exclusively for the Vita this holiday season, but it was the exclusive Assassin's Creed III: Liberation that might finally persuade me to cave and buy a Vita. Especially since they're going to bundle the game with a special crystal white Vita, and that's somewhat tempting... Anyway, they then moved on to the actual console Assassin's Creed III, and since it's a multi-platform game everyone already knows about, they tried to keep your attention by revealing that there's going to be at-sea battles. Sorry, but it just seemed tedious. I want to be running along rooftops and skewering guys to death, not controlling a pirate ship and shooting cannonballs at the other ones...
Then came some Far Cry 3, and their unique revelation this time was that there's going to be four-player co-op play, and they demoed some of that. After that came some Move talk, which... I guess Sony isn't giving up on it quite yet. Although instead of previewing any Move games, this was kind of a lead up to Wonderbook. This is an Augmented Reality storybook with blank pages that come to life in front of your PS3 and PS Eye. They even got J.K. Rowling to write a Harry Potter Wonderbook called Book of Spells. It teaches you the history of the spells and how to perform them using your Move controller as a magic wand. It looked nifty on the stage, but having played Spirit Camera, I can tell you that these kind of AR books don't always work well in practice. Also, for anyone complaining about how Kinect has games that aren't games, Wonderbook is almost another step further away. Oh, and even though they are clearly hoping Rowling and Harry Potter will be a major draw, you've still got to already have the Move and Eye before Wonderbook will work. So expect bundles.
There was also stuff about how you can watch movies and listen to music with your PlayStation, but much like when Microsoft talks about non-gaming stuff for the console, I zone out a bit. And the PlayStation Suite is now PlayStation Mobile, bringing "PlayStation Certified" gaming to mobile devices. No specifics, just... mobile games.
Then came an unbelievably interminable demo of God of War: Ascension, which is due out March 12, 2013. Honestly, it looked just like God of War. Nothing really different. And no talking points about story or what makes this sequel special. Just Kratos killing things.
Then much to my surprise, they saved the best (to me) for last, Naughty Dog's The Last of Us. I'd heard about this game, but this was the first time I'd seen any gameplay. It looks amazing. Post-apocalyptic goodness. A bearded guy and a pre-teen girl explore a flooded, ruined city. Inside of a hotel, their exploration is interrupted by some gun-toting dudes. The end of the world always brings out the worst in people... Anyway, the graphics are gorgeous, and the world is awesomely detailed. The girl seems to help you out in a pinch, and I can only hope that her AI is that helpful in the final game! Honestly, I was so excited by this brief taste that I can't wait to play it already!
Everyone in attendance got a free year of PlayStation Plus, so I'm a little jealous I missed out on that, but honestly, I'm not sure I'd really use it that much if I did get the voucher. Not like the Microsoft press presentation a couple years ago where everyone got the sexy new black Xbox 360 for free!
Sony gets points for showing off more impressive exclusives, but I've got to dock them some for not showing more Vita games and for being poorly structured and a little tedious. Next up: Nintendo!