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…)