SLIDESHOW

E3: Sony's Hottest PlayStation Games and Gadgets--Grab an Eyeful

Sony trumpets its PSP Go, a Final Fantasy XIV PlayStation exclusive, an ultra-precise 3D Motion Sensor, and God of War III.

Sony's E3 Press Conference: Did Someone Say PlayStation 3 Motion-Control?

Sony's PSP Go confirmed, beauties like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Assassin's Creed 2, a Final Fantasy XIV exclusive grab, and a startling 3D motion sensor demo to match Microsoft's--Sony's message was clear: The PlayStation 3 is in the zone.

Even Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton couldn't resist leading with a bit of self-deprecating humor. Striding onstage before a titanic 40-by-80-foot screen, Sony President Jack Tretton got plenty of laughs when he referenced Sony's notorious pre-show gaffes.

"We consider ourselves to be industry leaders, and Sony leads the world in press leaks," quipped Tretton, who then set the tone for the presentation--"Only possible on PlayStation 3"--by stating that only the PS3 was capable of outputting visuals to the towering screen behind him.

After showing footage from games like Uncharted 2 and MAG, the company rolled out the PSP Go and--after reiterating what we already suspected--proceeded to chat up new PlayStation Store services and music management tools designed to make the PSP more platform-independent. The handheld segment concluded with revelations of two new PSP titles: Gran Turismo PSP, and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.

Then on to a live demo of Assassin's Creed 2 and a Final Fantasy XIII video, before Sony pulled the curtain aside on a Final Fantasy XIV exclusive (it's another online-only role-playing game, like FFXI) and an ultra-precise 3D motion sensing peripheral. While all we got was a rough glimpse at the latter, it's well along in development, since Sony revealed it's due on shelves this time next year.

How'd they finish? How else: With a live God of War III demo, of course, every bit as fierce and bloody as you'd expect from a guy who never smiles, and who swings blades attached to chains wrapped around his forearms.

See related:

Hands-On with Sony PSP Go

E3: Sony's LittleBigPlanet "Sequel," God of War III Demo

E3: Sony Confirms PSP Go, Final Fantasy XIV, Motion-Control Wand

For all the latest E3 news and opinion: twitter.com/game_on

The Most Exciting One: Uncharted 2--Among Thieves

Sorry, I can't help it, I loved Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, even when everyone else was going "Huh? Un-what-ed?" It's the Indiana Jones game we always deserved but never got, the next several steps in the Tomb Raider franchise that never really materialized.

Uncharted 2 looks better than ever, boasting off some of the most impressively detailed exotic environments the system's yet seen. As a helicopter spit gatling fire, the protagonist dangled from the lips of crumbling ledges, hurling himself across gaps between bursts of bullets. He scurried across rooftops, ducking behind boxy protrusions for cover, leaping over debris with ease. The demo ended as the helicopter raked the building, ripping out walls, windows, ceilings, and pretty much trumpeting "Look at all the stuff we can make go boom!"

Coming fall 2009.

The Insanely Populous One: MAG

Zipper Interactive unveiled the first bits of live play, giving us a peek at a first-person shooter that pits 256 players against one another in massive, war-torn battle-scapes. Did I say 256 players? Sony claimed as many were actually live for the show, as several squads of eight were revealed to be subsets of even larger platoons, in turn parts of entire companies assaulting a vast base. The appeal of MAG? Serious battle simulation with sophisticated chain-of-command and delegate battle ops. It's definitely not a game where, as in the Battlefield series, you can run off and fool around willy-nilly.

Available this fall.

Leak Confirmed: Sony's PSP Go

Ta-da, "the worst kept secret of E3" finally de-cloaked, and sure enough, the PSP Go turned out to be a smaller, lighter, Mylo-inspired PSP without the disc-based UMD drive and everything running off internal storage or supplementary memory cards. It has the same operating system as the PSP, integrated Wi-Fi, and it plays all the same games. Hirai said that Sony is targeting the "digital consumer," and that it's more than 50 percent smaller and 40 percent lighter than the original PSP-1000. As expected, it'll have 16GB of internal flash memory, a slide-out control pad, integrated Bluetooth, and the ability to download games and movies from the PlayStation Network over Wi-Fi directly.

Handheld Racer: Gran Turismo PSP

Sony introduced Gran Turismo for the PSP running at 60 fps, with 800 cars, 35 tracks, and 60 track layout variations. How do you get all 800? Insane amounts of patience, of you can trade and/or share cars between your garage and the garages of other players. Coming October 1 to complement the PSP Go's launch.

Handheld Sneaker: Metal Gear Solid--Peace Walker

Not a spinoff or a side story, this one's a true sequel to Metal Gear Solid 3, set ten years after the latter PS2 game in the 1970s. The trailer teased nukes and the whole mutually-assured-destruction/balance-of-power shtick, then it cut to Latin America, before I lost track of the plot. All I know is, at one point, there were what appeared to be four stubbly, bandana-sporting Snakes on screen at once. (And now I've got proof with this screenshot.)

The Brilliant Nonexclusive Demo: Assassin's Creed 2

Sony's Assassin's Creed 2 demo took us back to 1486 for a trip through the Italian Renaissance. An assassin stood up from a bench, stabbed someone, then leapt into the rococo architecture, bounding across wooden beams and scrambling up walls. He's a young Florentine noble on a quest for vengeance, someone who has to learn how to be an assassin (and there's our impetus to play explained). He's also friends with Leonardo da Vinci, who lends him the famous bat-winged flying ornithopter for some vertiginous aerial sleuthing.

Hiding spots are no longer safe, says Ubisoft--a new AI called "the seeker" will hunt you mercilessly. You can disarm enemies, too, and use up to 30 different weapons against them (not to mention six unique weapons if you play Assassin's Creed Bloodlines on the PSP and then plug it into your PS3).

Look for Assassin's Creed 2 and Assassin's Creed Bloodline this holiday.

The First Shoe Drops: Final Fantasy XIV Online

I wasn't the only one who thought Tretton was kidding when he said, deadpan, "This next trailer's for Final Fantasy XIV, coming in 2010." Final Fantasy 14? Say what? And then the footage ran, and we knew he was serious, and we collected our jaws from our laps.

While all we know about the game is next to nothing--let's just get Final Fantasy XIII out before our heads explode--it's Square Enix's next big online project, and it's exclusive for PS3. Whatever you think about MMOs (or console MMOs) that's still quite the coup for Sony.

The Second Shoe Drops: PlayStation Motion Control

"Take that, Microsoft." Okay, that's not what Sony's Dr. Richard "Eye Toy" Marks actually said when he took the stage, but you could practically hear it whispered in the pauses as Sony divulged its own fascinating take on precision motion-control.

Imagine a microphone with a translucent bulb in lieu of the mic's metal mesh, capable of lighting up and changing color, almost a wand of sorts. "Just a prototype," said Sony, and the final look will probably change, but you hold it like you're gripping the hilt of something like a sword. Now imagine that device (or devices--Sony eventually rolled out two) working in tandem with the PlayStation Eye to offer stunningly precise 1-to-1 tracking, and you have what Sony informally dubbed "PlayStation Motion Control."

The Crazy Content Creator: Mod Nation Racers

Mod Nation Racers looks a bit like LittleBigPlanet on a racing track. Think real-time physics, racers that can be customized and personalized, weapons you snag by driving over them, i.e. Mario Kart meets more realistic visuals, etc.

But it's almost less about racing than building. "We wanted to let you create by playing," said developer United Front Games, proceeding to putter around a flat, empty expanse, leaving a tongue of gray--the race track itself--in the vehicle's wake. Instead of painting with a clunky pointer, you simply put your ride in gear and drive it. All told, it took half a minute to make a brand new twisty-curvy racing loop. Add the option to fiddle the track's surface, create mountains, flatten hills, add buildings, set the time of day, then save your creation to the hard drive, upload it online, or download someone else's track and remix.

The Gorgeous Trailer You Already Saw: The Last Guardian

Next up, a trailer for Fumita Uedo and Team Ico's third title in the Ico / Shadow of the Colossus sequence, dubbed The Last Guardian. It's the same trailer we'd seen already seen (leaked) with a few extra moments at the end and a possible uptick in the overall detail level.

Can't wait to lay hands on it, and since that's the extent of what we know, can't say much more about it.

The Bloody Good Time: God of War III

In the final chapter of their fantasy trilogy, said Sony, we'll see how the story of gods, titans, and burly protagonist Kratos ends, as Kratos rushes headlong toward a confrontation with ol' sparky (Zeus) himself.

All the basic mechanics appeared intact in the live demo, including a running combo tally of how deadly or sadistic your attacks are. Blood splashed like toppled paint buckets as Kratos tangoed with a particularly tenacious chimera, a fight that went on...and on...and then on some more. Fights feel even more tactically strung out here, with multiple instances of timed-button moves (press triangle, or square, etc.) before you're through.

The finale? Kratos rips the horns off chimera, then plunges them in like swords.

And we've got a release date at last: March 2010.