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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sony's pre-show press event for E3

Sony’s pre-E3 press event today was long on speeches and vague promises, but seemed a little empty when it came to actual delivery. Kaz Hirai, the president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, oversaw the entire ceremony and was practically bubbling good fortune and enthusiasm for the upcoming Playstation 3 console. While Hirai was quick to point out that new titles will continue to be produced and released for the PS2 (including Final Fantasy: Dirge of Cerberus, God of War 2, Final Fantasy XII, Justice League, Guitar Hero 2, and Mortal Kombat Annihilation), it was soon obvious that this press conference was really all about the PS3 because, “Technology is just an enabler. Real power rests in the content creators and the consumers. We want freedom, we want choice… but most importantly we want to be entertained in new and unique ways.”

After showing we, the grubby members of the press, the upcoming plans for the PSP (including a camera, GPS capabilities, and RSS videos) and announcing the Greatest Hits program for the console, it was time to get into the meat of the PS3’s details. We were shown a video featuring pleasantly clean-cut New York teens, London pedestrians, Sydney wallabies, Capetown natives, Tokyo dwellers, and Mexico City river float-striders, whose sparkling wit included such gems as, “I’m gonna beat you and it’s gonna hurt,” and miming their video game-playing for the camera.

Soon after this video mercifully ended, the key details of the PS3 were fleshed out: aside from the already-known Blu-ray technology , we were also told that the console would be Bluetooth, WiFi, and Ethernet compatible; Dolby Surround Sound and HD displays of up to 1080p would work automatically; there would be up to seven players able to play with the PS3’s wireless controllers; a pre-installed harddrive; and interoperability via network, USB, and memory sticks were all features covered during this info session.

And, thus, the game demonstrations began… Kazunori Yamauchi, the man behind the Grand Tourismo series came onto the stage after being introduced by Phil Harrison and proceeded to give what was a very technically in-depth and somewhat dull demonstration of Grand Tourismo 4’s gameplay footage when it had been pumped up for the PS3’s display at 1920 x 1080. Exactly how one makes such a demonstration dull is beyond me, but I will say this much: the cars certainly moved fast and their surroundings were truly impressive eye candy. This was by far the longest game demonstration of the event, and it was ridiculously long-winded.

Next up were a series of brief previews, at best, or game trailers for upcoming titles, including Genji 2, Lair, Getaway, Afrika, Everybody’s Golf, Monster Kingdom, Eight Days, and Naughty Dog. A number of other third party games had their trailers displayed, but ridiculously fancy movie previews for Metal Gear Solid 4 (wow… just… wow) and Final Fantasy XIII (gunblades, short skirts, and creepily pale skin are the must-have accessories for badass young women these days, apparently).

Finally, after previews, demos, and movie trailers, we were forced to endure what was quite possibly one of the dullest and most irritatingly smarmy preview of sports game technology for the PS3 by Electronic Arts (there was an irritated grumbling from my section at the fact that EA was able to get roughly ten minutes of time on Sony’s center stage simply to showcase the graphics capabilities for their NBA and Tiger Woods games, respectively). Most of the audience seemed more irritated by the condescending and insincere compliments paid to Sony by the various EA speakers… though it’s also possible that we were just pissed that we hadn’t gotten to see some footage from the upcoming Superman Returns title.

The end of the show was when the big news about the PS3 hit, mainly in regards to the controller: the PS3’s controller looks exactly the same as the previous generations’ controllers, but it detects movements through its six degrees of freedom detection system (these controllers will come standard with PS3 units). Dylan Jobe gave a demonstration of this in action with his upcoming sci-fi dogfighter, Warhawk, and it was pretty amazing to watch the game in action as it detected the shifts in the controller’s position and helped steer the jet plane accordingly. According to Jobe, this system is, “incredibly exhilierating… the team and I are incredibly impressed… it marks an interesting moment for us by allowing us to change from very static controller moments to very kinetic controller moments.”

Almost as an afterthought, it was mentioned that the PS3 would have two different prices at its launch: $499 (this is for the unit which comes with a 20 gigabyte hard drive) and $599 (60 gigabytes, respectively) and would have approximately 6 million units shipped worldwide when between the console’s launch date in November and the end of Sony’s fiscal year in March. Oh, and there was also a new Devil May Cry game mentioned during these final thoughts. And then we were all free to go get smashed at the open bar… er… I mean… play video games and then go hit the open bar.

And that was it.

As I mentioned earlier, Sony’s pre-show press event this year seemed to promise a lot of big changes but then didn’t really fulfill on the hype it built up for itself and subsequently left a number of us more than just a little underwhelmed, though this thankfully wasn’t the case with the post-show reception’s food and drink.

Want to read more about what I and my team have seen so far? Head over to Gamehelper's E3 BloGH for more :)



2 Comments:

  • Great coverage!

    "This was by far the longest game demonstration of the event, and it was ridiculously long-winded."

    I wouldn't have mind watching it! This is history in the making after all.

    By Anonymous Tech Princess, at 8:51 AM  

  • I wish I could be there. Too bad there's no more scantily clad boothbabes at E3, you won't be able to bring us back pictures of them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:28 AM  

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