Sony unveiled their latest moves in their ongoing quest for world domination tonight in their pre-E3 press event. The first of the three major console manufacturers to blow their load, Sony’s conference was a mix of wows and yawns. Ken Hirai kicked off by telling us how their previous consoles have sold 8 kajillion units. Eat that, competitors.
PSP took the backseat, unsurprisingly, with a single montage of upcoming software, very little of which was new. The PSP seems to be moving along healthily with some promising titles (the new Killzone was especially dazzling), but we all knew the real star of the show was PS3.
It seems everyone is buzzing about PS3, even randomly selected actors on the streets of Mexico and London, or so Sony’s peculiar montage of man-on-the-street interviews would have you think. But for those not content take their word for it, Sony was finally ready to dish out what everyone wanted to see; some real, live gaming.
The first PS3 game to show up was the latest in Polyphony Digital’s much ballyhooed racing series, Gran Turismo HD. The demo sported some impressive detail, particularly during a lap around the Grand Canyon track with crowds by the sidelines that animated individually and reacted to the cars. Still, it wasn’t exactly revolutionary.
But it looked incredible next to the thunderingly underwhelming Genji 2 eschewing its Onimusha legacy for something more resembling the oft-imitated Dynasty Warriors. The presenter boasted that the graphically unimpressive demonstration was, in fact, based on a real historical Japanese battle, and proceeded to clobber a giant spider-demon that was somehow omitted from my history books.
The bad taste was washed from our mouths by Heavenly Sword a real looker of an action game that might not seem wildly original, but surely was as stylish as it was beautiful with some amazing physics and animation. This was followed with unsurprising demos of Hot Shots and The Getaway that looked exactly like you’d expect, along with some footage of rendered Serengeti wildlife that was, sadly, not a Jambo Safari sequel, but a new title entitled Afrika. Nothing was provided any clues as to what it might play like. But even if Afrika is nothing more than the best screensaver ever made, its sheer un-videogameness, free of exploding aliens and shotguns, gave it some impact.
Then we were teased and tantalized by the announcement of a new title from the ace codemonkeys at Naught Dog. This wasn’t the usual colorful and cartoony platforming affair, but a woefully generic jungle adventuring game that seemed like Tomb Raider with a generic spikey haired hipster. Surprising to say the least.
Resistence: Fall of Man, from the fine folks at Insomniac, stacked up a bit better. While my fellow editors yawned at the by-the-numbers FPS blasting and grayer than gray eye candy, I admired the action-packed levels and war-torn environments. There’s promise there, at least.
But Sony was saving their bombshell for the end. The cumbersome boomerangs that were the PS3 controllers of E3 2005 are gone with something closely resembling the familiar Dual Shocks we’ve all grown accustomed to. But it packed an important secret. Evidently Sony has stolen Nintendo’s trump card and six degree motion sensing into its controller, making a mockery of Nintendo’s controversial wand-remote. To show the thing off they fired up a Warhawk demo. Still not the killer app Sony needed to seal the deal, but this last game shown was still impressive. The control between the Warhawk guy’s movement and the ship onscreen was seamless, as responsive as we could hope it to be. And above that, the game looks great. He controlled the ship in-between bullets, attacking a midair battleship and zipping through cloud puffs. Really beautiful stuff, and with all the maneuvers the ship was pulling off, all based on player movement, it was simultaneously gliding and soaring.
So what’s keeping Sony from claiming early victory? It’s you, the briefcase, and the $600 you need to stuff in it in for some high-def barrel rolls. And maybe the paltry two million units that’s going to be available at its worldwide November 17 launch. So you have you options: $600 for the 40 GB hard drive version, $500 for the 20 GB, or $200 for child therapy when you tell your kid why it’s going to be a sad, dark Christmas.