E3 2011: Sony Says Sorry for PSN Outage, Reveals PlayStation Vita
By Matt Peckham
We’re really, really sorry for the PlayStation Network outage, and thanks for sticking by us—the gist of Sony’s E3 press conference intro, as Sony Computer Entertainment America president and CEO Jack Tretton took the stage to address “the elephant in the room.”
And that’s about all the company had to say about the hacker-led PlayStation Network outage that knocked millions of players offline last month, before kicking the show into high gear with PlayStation 3 exclusive action-adventure, Uncharted 3.
Naughty Dog’s Evan Wells demoed the game’s protagonist Nathan Drake clambering over boxes and dripping piping to show off the new water effects, which, I have to say, probably have BioShock’s beat. The developer also said that during October, you’ll be able to hit Subway (yep, the sandwich chain) to grab a code that unlocks Uncharted 3’s complete (as in not-a-demo and not-a-sampler) competitive multiplayer game before the game hits stores on November 11th. That’s certainly a new one.
Next up, we had a look at Resistance 3, Insomniac’s alternate history sci-fi shooter. The third game transpires during August 1957, four years after the events of Resistance 2. The alien-spawned mutant Chimera have won the war, humans face extinction, and everything’s looking as bleak as you’d expect it to in a threequel. The demo took place in St. Louis, Missouri, and looked like a busier version of Resistance 2, with aliens scampering along multiple planes, from humanoid-sized pests to creepy crab-walking monstrosities. Resistance 2 was kind of a letdown, so fingers crossed for Insomniac’s fireworks finale.
The best part of the show (by my measure) turned out to be the least assuming: The reveal that arty action games ICO and Shadow of the Colossus have been re-mastered (as long promised). As well, that Sony’s releasing both PSP God of War titles re-mastered for the PlayStation 3, dubbed God of War Origins Collection. Both will launch in September, and be playable in full stereoscopic 3D.
Sony reminded us why gaming’s just part of its multi-billions worldwide brand, rolling out a new 24-inch PlayStation-branded 3D display designed to provide “affordable” access to 3D. (Is $500 affordable? You tell me.) It’ll bundle Resistance 3, a pair of glasses, and include tech that’ll allow two people playing in the same room to view separate full-sized images of the gameplay. Some in my Twitter feed claimed that technology’s not new. Except for the part where it is. Heard of any other game consoles that’ll let you do it?
Other games demoed: NBA2K12 (Kobe Bryant appeared to show a new PS Move mode where you point the wand to pass or trigger defensive maneuvers) and Medieval Moves (basically a first-person PS Move-based sword-swinger). Whether you’re hot or cold on motion-control games, the precision involved in the Medieval Moves demo really highlighted the colossal accuracy edge PS Move has over Microsoft’s laggy Kinect.
We also caught glimpses of inFAMOUS 2 (actually in stores today, June 7th), BioShock Infinite (the PS3 version will ship with the original game on the same Blu-ray disc), a new planet-to-space shooter dubbed Starhawk, a new Sly Cooper game (coming in 2012), a new Star Trek co-op action adventure set to debut alongside J.J. Abrams’ next Star Trek movie in 2012, and a new SSX snowboarding game.
CCP CEO Hilmar Petursson appeared to tease DUST 514, a PlayStation 3-exclusive shooter that could change the MMO-scape if the company can launch clean and stable. Think persistent tactical teamwork-focused shooter in which you’re conquering planets, then that plugged directly into long running massively multiplayer space-economy PC game EVE Online. CCP calls it the “first true cross-platform experience,” and there’s apparently even a version coming for Sony’s upcoming Next Generation Portable games handheld.
Speaking of, we finally know what the latter’s called: PlayStation Vita, or “PlayStation Life.” Read it as I do—short for “vital”—and it’s a baby step to “PlayStation Priority.” Because I have to wonder whether this isn’t Sony’s hedge against a broader industry-upending shift to mobile gaming as primary (over console or PC gaming). In other words: Is the PS Vita Sony’s PSP followup, or in fact the PS3’s?
The show’s remainder involved visually stunning Vita game demos (including an Uncharted spinoff, an action-based roleplaying game dubbed Ruin, and Mod Nation Racers), each of which made impressive use of the system’s front-and-back touch-sensing areas and motion-sensing capabilities. While Ruin looked awfully Torchlight to me, it gave Sony an opportunity to demo its “cloud” save technology: Save your game on the pint-sized Vita, then pick up and continue playing almost instantly on your big-screen attached to a PS3.
But Mod Nation Racers was arguably the most impressive of the bunch: Touch the screen to draw tracks instantly. Summon a touchscreen level editor to add track features like jumps. Curl your fingers around the Vita’s backside touchpad in terrain mode to drop in mountains and lakes. And since the Vita version’s compatible with the PS3 version, Vita players will have access to some two million tracks, mods, and cars already created by the PS3 community, on day one.
How much will it cost? Pretty much what we guessed: $250 for the Vita with Wi-Fi only, $300 for the Vita with Wi-Fi and 3G support. All of which means Nintendo’s in for the fight of its life when Sony’s handheld launches in the U.S. by Christmas this year.