Sony had some pretty big goals to live up to as the final show of the night Monday evening. Microsoft, EA, and Ubisoft all came out and made showings for their new technologies and games, so the big question is: did Sony live up to the expectations set by the other companies? Even though they made quite the effort to shine, they just didn’t seem to have the firepower to impress like the other companies did. As E3 continues on and I see other projects on the floor, I have to feel like they’re holding something back.
Sony started with the announcement of Quantic Dream’s newest project, the company responsible for the 2010 smash hit . Titled Beyond, the game uses an almost photo-realistic graphics engine similar to Heavy Rain. Ellen Paige was cast as the game’s lead, taking the role of a mysterious woman named Jodie Holmes. Throwing in big explosions, SWAT teams, and bits of telekinesis and body possession, Beyond was just the title to get the crowd’s blood pumping. If they’d kept the energy that high for the rest of the show, there’s no doubt they’d have arguably been the highlight of the night. Unfortunately, missteps lowered the tone of the conference.
The transition to Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale featured a gameplay demo that begged more questions than it created excitement. The game looks a ton like Super Smash Bros., but there didn’t seem to be ways to keep track of the amount of damage characters had racked up, or a way to know what a player’s score was at any given time until the end of the match. Though playing the game will likely be fun, I didn’t feel a strong push to grab the game when it launched. I’ll admit though that the announcment of Nathan Drake and the Big Daddy from Bioshock as playable characters was pretty sweet.
The rest of the night was a roller-coaster in a similar fashion with high points of energy followed by let-downs. Ubisoft brought much of the noise to the show; the Vita-exclusive Assassin’s Creed: Liberation looked great, with gameplay featuring the first female assassin. Assassin’s Creed III ‘s sea-faring battle was breathtaking and Farcry 3 ‘s cooperative multiplayer campaign also looked like fun, but neither of those titles were Sony exclusives. Also, the announcement and demo of the Sony Wonderbook was almost painful to watch in parts; though the concept of an interactive book is a great one, the game based on J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter universe called Book of Spells didn’t seem very responsive or, frankly, very fun. Considering the amount of time the technology was given at the show, I have to believe they thout it was going to be a bigger hit than it ended up, but I’m sure they’re also still working out the kinks of the technology. Luckily, they closed up the night with two sure-fire Sony exclusives that got the crowd excited: God of War: Ascension and The Last of Us.
God of War: Ascension showed off Kratos as he took on the oversized, mammothly-intimidating creatures that are pretty standard for the GoW series. Kills and moves were bloodier and more violent than ever, with one mini-boss fight ending with Kratos digging his blade into the creature’s skull, splitting it open and exposing his brain. This, of course, got wild cheers from the crowd. Gameplay for The Last of Us was vibrant and intense, with much of the action feeling so fluid that it felt like watching a cutscene with a health bar. Sneaking around and killing enemies with brutal melee blows is critical to success, as ammo is scarce. When Joel ran out of ammo, Ellie came in with a giant rock to throw at the gun-toting villain, giving Joel time to move in for the final kill. Finishing the demo with Joel readying a vicious shotgun blast to a baddie’s face, the show ended on a high note…but not high enough to erase the memories of All-Stars and Book of Spells.
Sony’s obviously a company with a lot of power and big plans for the future. In fact, they closed the show by reminding the audience that Sony is a company that focuses on the future…which, to me, felt like an indirect reference to the Orbis/PS4. Perhaps that was what this conference was… the place-filler for a company with big plans for next year and future technologies. There’s plenty to be excited about already; the Vita is getting access to PSOne classics, and the previously mentioned Sony-exclusive games cover a wide range of audiences and interests. This coming year will still be a great one for Playstation gamers, but it’s this writer’s opinion that Sony’s waiting this year out, holding back the big guns for a time when they won’t have to compete with as many big guns from other companies.