Travelog: The One With The Sony Conference

Los Angeles, it appears, has a fair bit of traffic – and most of it seems to always congregate between where I am and where I want to be.  Case in point: the Sony E3 conference, which managed to magic up a whole town’s worth of cars and stick them right in front of the slowest, most docile shuttle bus ever to hit tarmac.  With barely thirty minutes to go before Tretton’s latest briefing, it was starting to look a little tight and although not attending wouldn’t have been anything like disastrous, I was here, and I wanted to get the most of out it.

As it transpires, looking back, I didn’t really have much to fear – the bus crawled in on time, I managed to turn down enough free Subways to feed more than five thousand and – a quick Corona later – found myself wedged between a few locals in the cheap seats, 3D glasses equipped but with a MiFi 3G connection that, at best, found the strength to ping an LED every now and again.  Alienated and unable to see anyone I’d said I’d meet, I sat patiently trying to coax some life into my mobile internet.

By the time Tretton had finished apologising, I was already wanting to see some games.  The difference in pacing between Xbox’s all-out relentless barrage of titles against Sony’s plodding, apparently unpracticed effort was astonishing – Sony started slow and never really picked up, any decent new title (I was holding out for Ruin) lost amongst really quite dull ‘exclusives’ and a Vita reveal that was as surprising as jet lag.  Even the Uncharted demo failed to really excite, only some clever water effects and plenty of drama providing interest.

I’m not alone, either – there was the odd whoop and cheer but occasionally it all felt a little bit forced.  I’ve never really understood the need or desire to clap upon sight of a developer logo (for instance) but several times during the presser certain triggers appeared to ignite half the crowd in an almost Pavlovian display of recognition.  The Irrational section was one, the short trailer making way for an uncomfortable looking Ken Levine left to ramble on about shoe-horning in Move support for far too long.  Bioshock Infinite’s Move sections might be fab, but they didn’t come across that way to me.

And it’s here that Sony felt a little bit sad – trying to convince an audience that Infinite is best on PS3 because customers will get the original Bioshock might be an interesting bulletpoint but the game’s available for a fiver in most places now anyway, and the thought that any buyers of Infinite won’t have already played and beaten the first is, frankly, bizarre.  Same with Saints Row 3 (a weapon) and the smattering of EA offers (an SSX track, new cars for Need For Speed and – yes – a copy of 1943 with each PlayStation 3 version of Battlefield 3).

Insomniac’s demo of Resistance 3 was impressive enough, and the wicked looking 3D TV (with the two player mode) caused a stir, but the whole section dedicated to Move seemed a little off key.  Medieval Moves looks far too on-rails (and if it’s not, it was a poor demonstration), the LittleBigPlanet Move patch was glossed over far too quickly and both Starhawk and the new Sly weren’t given nearly enough attention.  Likewise, Dust 514 appeared to confuse people, and the mention of NGP support wasn’t backed up with any substance.

Still, at least the latter third hit home.  Vita wasn’t a surprise, but it was nice to see it confirmed finally, and although the AT&T deal caused some boos from the attendees the eventual reveal of the price created quite the opposite reaction – $249 is a fantastic price, pitching it directly against the 3DS and pushing it well below the price many were expecting.  The Uncharted: Golden Abyss demo didn’t really connect, though, but Ruin showed potential and ModNation Racers, safe as it is, could be exactly what the new system needs.

Naturally, LittleBigPlanet Vita was the star of the show, just as the brand has been in the past, a solid, reliable game that’s surely going to play to the system’s strengths in terms of control.  Sony’s press conference might not have caused many fireworks (and at times was actually a little dull) but it was solid enough overall and you can’t complain about more Sackboy, especially given the attractive trailer and promise of PS3 user content crossover.  For Sony, the framework’s laid out nicely for the next twelve months – we’d have liked to have seen a little more spark but the fire’s still burning.

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31 Comments

  1. MS show was the bad one imo I enjoyed the Sony show now to see what Nintendo has to wow us with.

  2. Nothing was as bad as MS’s E3. A new UI.

  3. Good read. I wasn’t awake to see it so this sums up all that happened. It sounds like if I didn’t stay awake to watch it wouldn’t be worth it.

  4. Thought it was good?

  5. a solid if unspectacular showing from sony, but then i’ll take that over seeing what used to be one of my favourite series driven into the ground to sell an add on.

    no big surprises, at either conference.
    most of the big surprises had been revealed for both companies so that lessened the impact of a few things.

    so far this isn’t looking like an e3 people will remember for years.

    it’s looking like nintendo might have the most exciting event this year, what with their new home console being shown publicly for the first time.

  6. I can’t believe you’re still going, it’s like you’re some kind of gaming journalism machine!

    • Yes but he’s clearly now very very grumpy ;) I’ve seen several impressions of this presser (and watched it myself) and it just seems Nofi got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

      • It was okay but I was expecting some sort of reveal at the end. I guess Sony were just focusing on Vita.

        Nothing of Last Guardian, Agent or Sorcery and I’m sure there are a number of other games that were missed too.

        I was hoping for something special from EA as well (maybe Mirrors Edge 2) but nothing, Ubisoft didn’t really offer anything we hadn’t seen already and I really thought MS would offer something other than Kinect, Halo and Gears of War. MS do appear to have ruined a few franchises forcing Kinect into them.

        A bit of a let down over all but will so much being announced leading up to E3 it’s not really a suprise. Nintendo need something really special tonight but I can’t see it. Being burnt by the Wii was worse than the PSN outage.

  7. This years e3 is not the time or the place for a big big reveal when you know that, good or bad, nintendo will take all the column inches after tonight with their new console. Why blow a reveal now when there are 2 other big conferences to go. MS don’t normally announce much elsewhere but sony certainly do.

    • very true I expect to hear a lot more from Sony before the end of the year.

  8. Haven’t seen the Sony one yet but MS’ was pretty boring (kinect-this, kinect-that) but EA’s conference was absolutely amazing and there were a couple of gems in the Ubi one too. Looking forward to the Nintendo one tonight to see what games I can expect to be playing on my 3DS soon :)

  9. I am totally suffering for staying up to watch the conference, Ive been at work for 1 hour and Im probably about 2 hours behind schedule, Ive had about 3 coffee’s 2 breakfasts and 14 toilet breaks and Ive still got 7 hours left, ;-)
    My favourite reveal was the PS branded 3d television, for $499. I thought that was truly amazing.

  10. It all seems a bit empty without a GT5 trailer…

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