E3 2012: Sony takes care of the hardcore gamers with exclusives ‘Beyond: Two Souls’ & ‘The Last of Us’
Sony was all about the games at this year’s E3. The company’s press event started off with a PS3 exclusive title from Quantic Dream, the development team behind the visually impressive Heavy Rain and the even better looking, emotional Kara tech demo that came out recently. Lead developer David Cage revealed his new project Beyond: Two Souls with an extended trailer that introduces the game’s main character Jodie Holmes. Cage hand-picked actress Ellen Page (Juno) to star as Holmes in a game that begs the questions what happens when you die? Cage describes the game as “emotional, mature, and unique, but also epic, breath-taking, and spectacular” and he teases that “if you make the right decisions, maybe you will discover what lies beyond.” Cage ranks up there with Avatar inventor James Cameron as a master of the performance capture technology. Visually mind-blowing with an intriguing storyline, Beyond: Two Souls is a strong exclusive for PS3.
Next, the PlayStation maker brought out developer Super Bot Entertainment to play a round of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. It’s Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros., a game that pits classic PlayStation characters against each other in a battle to a button-mashing death. The game stars Kratos (God of War), Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal), Sly Cooper, Mael Radec (Killzone 2), Fat Princess, and PaRappa the Rapper; at the presser Nathan Drake (Uncharted) and Big Daddy (Bioshock) were added to the mix. More significant than the on-screen battle was that the demonstration consisted of some players using DualShock controllers on the PS3 and others participating with PS Vitas. The game will be released on both the PS3 and PS Vita and will come packed with Cross-Play and Cross-Save functionalities. The former meaning that you can fight players on your PS3 and wirelessly with PS Vita owners; the latter meaning you can start a battle on your PS Vita, save it, and resume it on your PS3 (and vice-versa).
Following the innovations of Nintendo’s Wii U and Microsoft’s SmartGlass, Sony is looking to expand its services to a second screen, in this case the in-house PS Vita. In addition to Cross-Play and Cross-Save with Battle Royale, Sony also teased “cross-controller” downloadable content with LittleBigPlanet 2. Later this year the new DLC will allow gamers to “play, create and share using the PS3 and Vita” together. Sony’s Jack Tretton described the experience like this. “Utilizing dual-screen gaming in single player, Vita becomes an enhanced controller for the PS3. It’ll give each player their own controls and perspectives but working towards the same objective.” He summed up, “Cross-platform features will enhance gameplay and create completely new experiences.” They didn’t focus on cross-platform functionality as nearly as much as Microsoft did, but here’s to hoping that Sony is working closely with developers and content providers to enable this exciting technology more broadly across games and other forms of entertainment.
The PlayStation Move card was played this year by way of a new augmented reality experience called Wonderbook. Sony has invented a physical book filled with pages with AR markers on them that when laid out in front of a PS Eye camera will bring to life stories much like a pop-up book would, only on a much more grander scale. PS owners need only purchase one Wonderbook and it has the potential to tell theoretically an unlimited number of stories. Sony says they’re working closely with developers and authors to come up with various interactive tales. The first one comes from Harry Potter scribe J.K. Rowling and it’s called “Book of Spells.” It features “exclusive, new and original writing from Rowling herself.” The PS Move controller becomes a wand and the gamer-reader embarks on an journey that will reveal the origins of the spells introduced in the Potter books, like the levitation spell “levioso.” The book releases this fall. Sony makes a point that Wonderbook “isn’t limited to just stories.” It can also serve educational purposes: “imagine sailing the seven seas to explore an atlas, walking with dinosaurs, traveling beyond the stars to discover astronomy.” Though demos of this type of usage weren’t shown, Sony said that Moonbot Studios is developing “Diggs Nightcrawler,” a story inspired by film noir, so at least a couple of books will be ready when the physical Wonderbook hits shelves later this year.
Back to the games for the hardcore gamers… Assassin’s Creed III is coming to PS3 and its pirate-themed demo excited the crowd as did the announcement for Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for the PS Vita. Link the two games together and another form of cross-functionality takes place. “Cross-goods” include bonus content like new personas for your assassin. Far Cry 3 enables four-player co-op; the prequel God of War: Ascension looks to be a bloody good time; and the next title from Naughty Dog The Last of Us faded out the press event with a bang. The visuals and mechanics of that game look stunning. With Beyond, God of War, and The Last of Us, Sony proved this year that they are fully committed to securing innovative and genre-defining games to the PS3. There’s a reason why PlayStation fans are so loyal; even though the PS3 is transforming into an entertainment hub akin to the Xbox, Sony never loses focus on what matters most: the games.
Other announcements made at Sony’s press conference include: (Click here for more…)
It’s Nintendo’s turn to show off their latest and greatest in software and hardware. Hint hint. Onward and downward (and Skyward) we go…
- The presser kicked off in brilliant fashion with a large orchestra playing classic tunes from the Zelda franchise. To celebrate 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, Ninty is making a Zelda game for each of their systems. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993) is coming to the Nintendo 3DS today as a download in the now accessibleeShop. It’s the first Game Boy Color title to be added to the eShop’s Virtual Console. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, the remastered N64 classic, ships for the 3DS next weekend; hint movies and Master Quest and Boss Challenge modes included. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords comes to the DS as a free download in DSiWare in September. And lastly Skyward Sword has been confirmed to ship this holiday season for the Wii. A limited edition gold Wiimote with the Triforce emblem on it will ship alongside the game, MotionPlus tech built-in. Nintendo will hold The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony concerts this year in “each region of the world.” If you can’t attend one, the company is releasing two Zelda music CDs. Those who register Ocarina of Time 3D with Club Nintendo will get “The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D Official Soundtrack” and a CD with recordings from the 25th anniversary concert will ship when Skyward Sword does later this year.
- Nintendo is ready to immensely expand upon the 3DS games lineup by bringing classic Nintendo characters and franchises to the portable system and they are: Mario Kart (with kart hang gliders and underwater race tracks…out this holiday season); Star Fox 64 3D (you can make use of the handheld’s accelerometer and control Fox in the sky by physically turning and moving the system…in multiplayer mode the camera facing you will capture your face and tag it to your spaceship so friends can watch your reactions in real time…out in September); Super Mario (raccoon suit is back!, out “before year is over”); Kid Icarus: Uprising (features 3-on-3 multiplayer combat and augmented reality functionality using the AR Cards to pit (get it?) characters against one another…out later this year); Luigi’s Mansion 2 (it’s not a remaster of the Gamecube classic, it’s a totally new game that includes “several new mansions”); other 3DS titles coming soon: Ace Combat 3D, Tetris, Cave Story 3D; Resident Evil: Mercenaries and Revelations, Driver: Renegade, Pac-Man, Galaga Dimensions, Tekken 3D, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D.
- President of Nintendo of America ReggieFils-Aime then went on to talk up the recent 3DS software update that brought the eShop and Internet browser to the handheld. Ninty promises that more Game Boy and Game Boy Color classics are on the way. Free Excitebike 3D for everyone for a limited time. Pokedex 3D is available exclusively through the eShop and also comes free. For more on the update, click here!
- Quite arguably the biggest and most exciting news to come out of E3 thus far was Nintendo’s unveil of the Wii successor. It’s called Wii U and it releases next year. “It’s a system for everyone, but it’s tailor made for you.” Instead of focusing on the system itself, though, Nintendo decided to spill most of the details surrounding the brand new controller design. The controller packs a 6.2-inch display and allows gameplay to take place away from the TV. Nintendo set up this example: Say you’re playing a Wii U game in the living room on the big screen TV and someone walks in and watch to watch live TV. You can easily pause your game and transfer the full experience to your controller and continue right from where you left off on the 6.2-inch screen. The bond between you and the TV has been cut. Wii U games get wirelessly beamed to the controller; one’s precise proximity to the console to make this work was not specified. Besides this awesome function, the controller provides endless possibilities for developers. “In single-player games: The new controller can display information on its screen that does not appear on the TV; The information and viewpoint can also change in the new controller based on the orientation of its gyroscope. In multiplayer games: The player using the new controller can have a different experience than those looking at the TV; This will offer a wide variety of competitive and cooperative opportunities.” Oh, the controller can do even more. The front-facing camera can be used to initiate video calls, you can flick content (i.e. pictures and videos) from the controller to your TV screen, and you can run a web browser on it. Make sure you check out this introduction video to get a sense for how it’ll work.
- Next let’s talk hardware specifics. In addition to the 6.2-inch touchscreen display, the controller also has an inward-facing camera, an accelerometer and a gyroscope, a rumble feature, microphone and speakers, a stylus, and the following buttons: two analog Circle Pads, a D-Pad, A/B/X/Y buttons, L/R buttons and ZL/ZR buttons. The Wii U console can be paired to one Wii U controller and four additional Wii Remote or Wii Remote Plus controllers. The system is also backward compatible and can play all Wii games and use all Wii accessories. Though Nintendo’s keeping mum on console specifications, it’s confirmed that full HD 1080p support is there. It will support connections to the TV via HDMI, component, S-video and composite cables. Four USB 2.0 ports and an SD card slot complement the internal flash memory. IBM will provide processor that beats inside. Aesthetically, the console looks like the Wii but with rounder edges. It was show in white. Also, Nintendo has hinted that the Wii U will boast better online capabilities.
- Dig this games lineup: From in-house – Super Smash Bros. is coming to Wii U and 3DS! From third party people – Darksiders 2, Batman: Arkham City, Tekken, Assassin’s Creed, Lego City Stories (coming to 3DS too), Ghost Recon Online, DiRT, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Metro: Last Light, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razer’s Edge…and EA’s bringing Battlefield, Army of Two, and many others to Wii U. Hardcore games are making their way to a Nintendo-made console, at long last. The company’s goal is to provide deeper gameplay and wider appeal with the Wii U, and with the upgraded graphics, better online capabilities, and the unique controller scheme I have full confidence Nintendo will strike a balanced chord with hardcore and casual gamers alike.
Once again Nintendo has beat Microsoft and Sony at the E3 press conference wars. Nostalgia is a powerful weapon and Nintendo knows just how to use it to their advantage. The 3DS is about to get a major boost in popularity with Mario, Luigi, Star Fox, and Pit coming to the handheld this year. Zelda’s star is shines brighter than ever 25 years later. And with the introduction of the Wii U gamers get to anticipate an entirely new and innovative way to interact with their video games. Nintendo made clear that the Wii U’s controller was “not designed to be a portable game machine” even though it’s in the shape of one. Surely more details will surface in the coming months. For now, peep the gallery below for a closer look at the super intriguing controller and the Wii U console.
Microsoft kicked off E3 2010 in unique fashion with their Project Natal for Xbox 360 Experience featuring a Cirque du Soleil crew. Next they kicked things into high gear with their media briefing at the Wiltern Theatre. Ready, set…
The press conference began with a number of game trailers and real-time demos. First up was Treyarch with Call of Duty: Black Ops. It releases November 9. It was announced that Microsoft & Activision signed a multi-year agreement pertaining to Call of Duty downloadable content. Starting with Black Ops in 2010, all Call of Duty add-ons and map packs will launch first on Xbox 360 through 2012.
Next was Kojima Productions with Metal Gear Solid: Rising. It’s being described as a “sword action game” that’s based on the Japanese terms “zan-datzu” which means “to cut” and “to take.” A brief trailer revealed that the game will feature protagonist Raiden slicing and dicing his way past enemies (and watermelon).
Then Xbox’s major blockbusters hit the stage. Epic’s Cliffy B. demonstrated Gears of War 3 which is due out April 5. A new mode called “Beast” will be detailed soon. Then Lionhead Studios’ Peter Molyneux showed off a trailer for Fable III; it releases October the 26th. And things rounded out with a new trailer for Halo: Reach, “the most ambitious game Bungie has ever created.” The trailer was a mix of gameplay footage and cinematic cut scenes. Reach drops September 14. Also thrown into the mix was a new game from Crytek codenamed Kingdoms; it looks like a game based on the move 300. (*Each game title is linked to their respective E3 trailers/gameplay footage.)
Kinect for Xbox 360, formally known as Project Natal, was detailed. ”Kinect detects both movement and sound in very sophisticated ways.” An image revealed the guts of the motion-sensing device; it contains two 3D depth sensors, an RGB camera, multi-array mic, and a motorized tilt. ”When you combine the power of Xbox 360, the services of Xbox Live, and the magic of Kinect, the result is not just a revolution for your games, but for all of your entertainment.” Enter the Kinect Hub.
To get your Xbox 360 to recognize you, simply stand in front of Kinect, wave your hand, and the software will sign you into Xbox Live and bring up your custom avatar. Wave your hand a second time and you’re brought to a “controller-free menu” designed for Kinect gestures. The Kinect Hub allows you to interact with your games, friends, Netflix, Zune, Facebook, last.fm, and also customize your avatar. Thanks to the built-in mic, voice control is also accessible. Their motto is “if you see it, just say it.” You must precede all commands with “Xbox.” So for example, if you say “Xbox, Zune” the Zune hub loads up and now you have access to Zune Video, and now, Zune Music. Over seven million songs are now available over Xbox Live with Zune Music integration. With controller-free entertainment that’s “natural and effortless” you can also play/pause movies with your voice and rewind/fast-forward them with your hands. To select a piece of content simply hover your hand over it for a couple seconds.