by Dick Ward
Naughty Dog's 'Last of Us' and Quantic Dream's 'Beyond' are the highlights for Sony. They also spent 10 straight minutes talking about a new product called WonderBooks. I want that 10 minutes back.
So we watch a sizzle reel first. Then we watch Jack Tretton name drop “Solid Snake” and hear the audience cheer. C’mon gaming press, control yourselves. Tretton mentions that former PlayStation head Kaz Harai is in attendance. That’s got to be a bit of pressure.
Tretton leads with the new Quantic Dreams IP. The folks behind the critical darling ‘Heavy Rain’ have a new project in the works. Like ‘Heavy Rain,’ the new game is going to focus on emotion and storytelling.
The new game is called ‘Beyond,’ and it follows the life of a single person. You’ll follow her for 15 years, sharing in both her happy and sad moments. The character, Jody Holmes, will be played by Ellen Page – a pretty slick pickup for Quantic.
The real time demo is crazy good looking. It’s strange though – clothing and inanimate objects look pretty standard for videogames, but faces are beyond anything we’ve seen before. I was honest-to-god fooled a few times into thinking they were real people.
Oddly, after plugging the performance of Ellen Page, the trailer doesn’t actually have her talking that much, or moving, or really doing anything.
There’s no reveal of just what you’ll be doing in the game, but there look to be some large set pieces and plenty of cinematics. We’ll have to wait and see just what there is to it in the future. Tretton did announce just after the reveal that the game would be coming to PlayStation 3.
‘PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale’ gets demoed next. Say what you will about the game, being able to play it cross platform on the PS3 or Vita is a cool setup. That being said, the game is still ‘Super Smash Bros,’ but with some tweaks. Super abilities look pretty fun. The level backgrounds are pretty sweet looking at least.
Okay, wait a tick. The new characters announced were Nathan Drake and a Big Daddy. Let’s face it, Big Daddy is cool.
Sony is pretty big on the cross platform gaming thing, which is definitely a cool idea. They’re also enabling the Vita to act a bit like the Wii U gamepad, and supplement your gameplay.
Tretton then announced some updates to PSN Plus, including the addition of more free games a month. He also mentioned that PSOne classics will finally be coming to the Vita.
‘Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified’ is coming to Vita this holiday season, which should be pretty boss, but we really didn’t get any actual information on it.
‘Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation’ is built specifically for the Vita and features touch controls, Near functionality and the system’s camera to boot. You’ll also be playing as a lady, which is neat. You’ll be able to pick it up on October 30th alone or in a bundle with a new white Vita.
Bam, ship battles in ‘Assassin’s Creed III.’ This is potentially ridiculously cool. We get to see a captain taking on two ships at once, taking some serious damage and delivering some of his own. This is crazy detailed and looks incredibly cool. Halfway through the battle I actually forgot I was watching an ‘Assassin’s Creed’ video – it looks almost as if it was a game about naval battles. That's a very good thing in my book.
Like the Vita game, ‘Assassin’s Creed III’ comes with in a new PS3 bundle.
Ubisoft takes the stage to talk ‘Far Cry 3’ and reveal that they’ve been hiding a secret – four player co-op. The gameplay doesn’t reveal anything too interesting, and actually looks really tame compared to the single player. The set pieces aren’t as big or as organized, judging by this short demo anyway.
Okay, so Sony has a new application for the PlayStation’s camera. You’ll be able to pick up books that utilize augmented reality to bring your books to life. It’s called Wonderbook and it seems potentially interesting. They’re partnering with J.K. Rowling for the first book – ‘Book of Spells.’
This is something I can see a younger kid totally dorking out for. You can learn spells from the Harry Potter series by discovering their history, and then learn how to cast them.
A full painful 10 minutes later, we’re finally done with WonderBook and back to core games. We hope. We really hope.
The PlayStation Suite is coming to HTC phones, but essentially no information was given about what that will mean, aside from the fact that games are coming to HTC phones. This press conference really needs a pick me up.
Oh, there we go – it’s ‘God of War: Ascension.’ We see Kratos killing some goat minotaur things with his traditional chain blade things and then tearing their faces off to finish them off. A bigger one presents a stronger challenge, but is done away with quickly and brutally. It’s just what you’d expect from ‘God of War.’
Then things get a little strange. After the dock that Kratos is on get destroyed by a Kraken, he uses Force like powers to raise it up and put it back together. Aside from the apparent force powers, the game is pretty standard stuff for the series. There’s brutality and crazy monsters and all that good stuff. Nothing that really separates it from the pack though.
The multiplayer elements are what’s really going to be exciting in the game – the single player demo just isn’t the kind of thing that wows.
Naughty Dog’s new game ‘Last of Us’ shows up on the screen after a few seconds of darkness. It looks very ‘Uncharted’ in its style, but has a different feel to it. With no real soundtrack, every little violent act is that much more brutal. Having your daughter there amplifies that even more. Violence that would have been tame in other games is amplified thanks to the setting and the interaction between the two characters.
There may have been a pretty huge lull between the two big games of the show, but ‘Beyond’ and ‘Last of Us’ both look incredibly cool. They also share a sort of understated presentation, for the most part. Light on music, nice and patient – these could be some very cool games.
We've got one more press conference ahead of us – Nintendo will be showing off their goods at 9am PT / 12pm ET. So far no one has even come close to Ubisoft's surprisingly killer press conference, but with exciting new hardware, Nintendo could be the company to do it.