Leave it to Sony to actually come through with something worth writing about. After a mediocre Microsoft conference and the worst Nintendo presentation imaginable, Sony actually delivered something good. And this good news couldn't come soon enough. For more than a year Sony has been the whipping boy of the games industry, everybody from game editors to game fans have been taking turns hitting Sony waiting for some candy to fall out all over the floor. But Sony proved everybody wrong ... and in turn ended up stealing the entire show.
Unlike Microsoft and Nintendo, Sony's press conference took place away from Santa Monica in the land of Culver City. Like most years, Sony's conference was at their studio in a giant theater room. But before we even had a chance to filter into that theater we had to walk several blocks just to stand outside of the door. The good news is that once we got there Sony provided everybody in attendance free food and drinks. And I'm not talking about Coke and Pepsi; I'm talking about straight up alcoholic drinks. I worried that they were getting us liquored up to blunt some bad news, but after a few drinks (and some generally tasty food) I could care less what they were going to tell us.
As I stood outside the Sony event I started to look around at the rest of the people getting ready to be underwhelmed by the brand that brought us the PlayStation 3. As I looked at my surroundings I caught a glimpse of Larry Hyrb (Major Nelson) who was already stuck in conversation with Defunct Games' own Patrick O'Connor. I decided to head on over to save Larry from a never-ending conversation with Patrick and snag a few more snacks on the way. Larry and I have spoken before, but just in case I always introduce myself since I know that he's a busy man who meets a lot of people in the game industry.
As I was introducing myself a voice next to me said, "hey ... you're Somebody Else's Podcast." When I turned around I realized that somebody recognized me, or, at least, somebody recognized my work on Radio Free Gaming. His name is Chris Larson and he's the editor of Stage Select. Apparently he has been listening to Radio Free Gaming and knew my voice. Unfortunately he had never been to the site ... so apparently my constant advertising for Defunct Games on the podcast hasn't worked.
But I digress, we spoke with Chris for a good long time (completely ignoring Major what's his name). Eventually we were all ushered into the Sony conference and made our way to whatever chair we could find. We found three chairs close to the front, maybe two or three rows from the stage. For the next half hour Chris explained the merits of his site and let me advertise a few of my favorite Defunct Games articles. This was a good way to waste some time before Sony's conference started. The nice thing is that I can say whatever I want about the Chris encounter because chances are he'll never read this article ... after all, he listens to the podcast instead of visiting the site.
Eventually the conference started and we were introduced to Jack Trenton's character in Home. At first I was excited that the conference was done using these weird Home people because it reminded me of those episodes of After Thoughts we do from time to time. It felt good to know that I'm not the only one that enjoyed watching people voice act video game characters that refuse to open their mouth (or even look like they're supposed to be talking).
But soon enough Jack took to the stage and started talking about how great things are going. Like Nintendo and Microsoft, Sony used the NPD numbers that suited them (which leads me to believe that the NPD numbers can be interpreted more ways than the Bible itself). And then they decided to talk about their four platforms ... that's right, FOUR. I'm talking about the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Network, and PSP. Jack promised good news for just about every platform in their arsenal, and boy did they deliver ... kind of.
Up first was the PlayStation 2, which Jack told us was still alive and kicking. We're forced to believe him because the sales are still strong. On the flip side Jack decided against actually showing us any games for the system, which makes me wonder just how alive and kicking that system really is.
Next up was the PlayStation Portable. Despite what some media outlets are saying (like the haters over at Next Generation), the PSP has a surprisingly strong line-up for 2007. In fact, Sony showed off so many strong titles that it made me completely forget that the Nintendo DS was at the show. Actually, now that I think about it, was the Nintendo DS at the show? Outside of Zelda and a few third party titles I don't remember the Nintendo DS making much of an impact at this year's event. Strange.
What was especially impressive about the PSP's line-up was the contrast between the blockbuster titles (like God of War) and the smaller titles (like Echochrome). The PSP may never overtake the Nintendo DS, but there's no doubt that Sony is going to be the most successful company to go up against Nintendo. Give Sony a few more years and another handheld and who knows what the portable market will look like.
In other PSP news Sony decided to announce a slightly remodeled version of the portable. This version will come in multiple colors, will load faster, will be slightly thinner, and will weigh less. Oh, and it's going to output to the TV. That's right; anything you have on your PSP can be viewed on your TV. That means that your UMDs may not be completely useless after all. Better yet, if you hook up your PS3 and computer to the internet you'll be able to view it on your PSP from anywhere in the world ... on your TV! That sound you hear is a lot of people excited about finally owning Sony's portable game system.
Moving on to the PlayStation 3, most of the game announced were titles we already knew about. We saw Drake's Fortune, Warhawk, SOCOM, Little Big Planet and a few other games we were introduced to at last year's event (or at the Game Developer's Conference earlier this year). Sucker Punch (the makers of Sly Cooper) did show off a game that looked a lot like Crackdown for the Xbox 360, only this time with a darker atmosphere. Oh, and Unreal Tournament III is going to be a timed exclusive ... but you already knew that.
The big news at this event was Killzone, which looks absolutely fantastic. Sony knew they had to deliver something impressive after the CGI trailer from two years ago and I don't think anybody will be disappointed by what they saw at this year's E3. The game looks stunning, from the detailed backgrounds to the character animations to the weapons you use. That's not to say that the game will be a Halo-killer or anything, but there is definitely a lot of promise in this demonstration. To all of the people that doubted that the game will look as good as the CGI trailer, prepare to order a big helping of crow.
And just like that the Sony press conference ended. We were told to exit to the right and play in their "arcade" area. Unfortunately this arcade was the thing that reminded me of the old E3. There were lines to play the most popular games, too many people walking around, and not enough real information about these games. I was hoping for a one on one experience with the developers and their games ... and this was just not the venue for that kind of play session. So we played a few games, had a few more drinks and left. Outside there was ice cream and that's when I knew, Sony had stolen the show from the competition. Say what you will about Sony, but my stomach knows a good thing when feels it ... and Sony's ice cream was definitely a good thing!
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