I honestly thought that Microsoft’s presentation couldn’t be topped, but while their technical ambition has yet to be beat, Sony brought the thunder in terms of their gaming slate — showing off a God of War prequel, a sort of zombieless, yet fantastic looking zombie game, and the visual stunner of the convention (so far) in the form of Beyond: Two Souls. Of course, being Sony, there were missteps.
One of those missteps was Sony’s big Move announcement, the Wonderbook. A piece of DLC that seems like it was designed with kids in mind. What is it? Well, the Wonderbook asks kids (or adults) to sit in front of the Eye Camera and watch the screen as Wonderbooks come to life. Spells can be cast by employing the Move Wand as an actual wand while using JK Rowling‘s exclusive Book of Spells, or a map and characters can come flying off the page and onto the screen thanks to something that is over enthusiastically called, Augmented Reality. The trouble with all of this is, the non HD Eye Camera saps the majesty of the effect thanks to its low video quality. Something that was obvious during the demonstration.
Sony’s other big tech news revolved around the Vita, with the company announcing crossplay ability between the PS3 and the Vita, and the ability to use the Vita as a PS3 controller. There were also PSN and Playstation Plus upgrades, with new content promised (Youtube and Crackle for the Vita), but these don’t come close to the full Internet Explorer internet browser and loads of content from Paramount, ESPN, professional basketball and hockey, that Microsoft promised for Xbox Live. Sony also announced the expansion of their mobile gaming interests, with an announced partnership with HTC (personal yay!) to develop Playstation certified games for Playstation mobile.
Alright, enough of the tech stuff, lets move on to the games!
Perhaps the most ambitions, and creative game revealed so far, Beyond: Two Souls comes from the developers of Heavy Rain, (Quantic Dreams) and seemingly aspires to be more than a game — frankly, it looks like it aspires to be art.
Focusing on a woman with seemingly supernatural abilities, the game follows, essentially Ellen Page (honest to blog!) through her life for 15 years and hints at an exploration of the afterlife if you make the right choices. I won’t mince words, the trailer was a cinematic, so I desperately crave gameplay footage, but the concept blew my hair back.
The Ubisoft presentation earlier in the day showed off ample Assassin’s Creed 3 footage, with a kickass conclusion to the gameplay footage showing the new assassin, Connor, soaring through the air. During the Sony presentation though, Ubisoft trucked out more AC, announcing a “from the ground up” Assassin’s title, Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation, starring a female assassin. They also showed a lengthy bit of gameplay footage, with Connor steering a ship through the Caribbean seas while engaging other ships in cannon combat.
Ubisoft also brought out more Farcry 3, though this clip featured less nipples than the Farcry portion of the Ubisoft presentation from earlier in the day… there was 4 way co-op and promises of a map maker and exclusive Sony DLC though, which might just trump nipples.
Sony also showed off Playstation All Stars Battle Royale and announced that Big Daddy from Bio Shock and Nathan Drake from Uncharted, would join the game as playable characters. Battle Royale came off as a classic button masher, and the lineup is a bit odd, with Drake now set play alongside Fat Princess, but the crossplay capability was demonstrated during this demonstration, and seemed to go off without a hitch.
Speaking of classic Playstation characters, Kratos is back with God of War: Ascension, a sort of prequel/origin story with the usual dose of fierce GOW gameplay, with epic battles showed off in the footage. People, there is an Elephant-man that is half man, half elephant, (and all punk ass bitch) that Kratos dispatches with ease. The whole thing is thrilling, and had me itching to see more. Sadly, the game won’t be out until next March.
The Last of Us is the previously mentioned maybe, sort of near zombieless zombie game, and this footage focuses more heavily on the struggle and battle between the survivors of some kind of pandemic event. The storyline is reminiscent of some of the best parts of The Walking Dead, with the “survival mode” human posing a real danger thanks to desperation and fear. Really, it’s exploring a world where mankind is thrust back into the wild and forced to view everyone as a potential predator. I love the brutality, the impressive hand-to-hand combat, and interplay between characters. “Joel” isn’t badass, he’s doing everything he needs to survive. Notice the lack of quips, the absence of swagger, this humanizes an end world event and also de-humanizes the protagonist and turns him into an animal. The Last of Us doesn’t have the lofty goals of Beyond, and it isn’t, you know, art, but it is a lot more interesting than a lot of the other zombie games that we’ve seen in recent years.