A lot was expected of Sony’s conference this year- the PS Vita was dying (still is) and Sony needed to buck up and give it a spectacular revival. Everyone thought all the PS Vita announcements would make Sony’s presser the best of the lot. The thing is, there were no PS Vita announcements, or none to speak of, anyway. However, Sony’s conference was spectacular indeed, perhaps the best conference we’ve seen from them in a long time.
Sony kicked of their conference in a very unusual way- usually companies would want to start their E3 pressers with huge, explosive showings with lots of gunfights, set pieces and explosions. What did Sony do? They showed of the next game by Heavy Rain developers, Quantic Dream. David Cage walked on to the stage and showed off Beyond: Two Souls. It was no Call of Duty or Halo, with curse words and flashy explosions. No, it was a fairly quiet demo. But it impressed us greatly, and gave a great start to Sony’s conference. Everything from the voice acting and motion capture to the dialogues and the visuals seemed so impressive, and the concept of “life after death” and supernatural powers that Beyond seems to be focusing on immediately captured our imaginations.
But that was not all they showed. They went on to demonstrate just what exactly PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale will be all about. Before E3, many people had been saying that Battle Royale is just a shameless Super Smash Bros. ripoff. After this, though… well, even more people will say that. Because, to be honest, the game looks awfully similar to Super Smash. Bros. But that doesn’t mean it looks boring. No, that is exactly why it looks good. Using characters like Kratos and Nathan Drake against the likes of Big Daddy and Sly in a fighting game was an interesting idea to begin with, and Sony’s gameplay demonstration impressed us even more.
There were some pretty obvious disappearing acts in the conference though, like LittleBigPlanet Karting and Sucker Punch’s next game. The most notable has to be Sly 4. The game’s coming out later this year for the PS3 and the PS Vita, and this should be right about the time when Sony starts advertising the heck out of it. But no, they’ve gone ahead and not even mentioned it at the biggest gaming event of the year. The conference definitely needed more Sly 4, because information on this game’s been scarce and so far, we have no idea what to expect from it.
They also didn’t talk about The Last Guardian. It’s been four years now, and we’ve been waiting for Sony to launch the game on the PS3. After promising us multiple times over the last few months that the game is not in development hell and that more info will be released soon, Sony goes ahead and doesn’t even mention the game during its E3 presser. Surely, they must be trolling us.
Which brings us to the PS Vita. A lot was riding on Sony’s E3- this was supposed to be the PS Vita’s revival. After so many consecutive less than mediocre weeks on the market, a few flopped releases and very little games in its software library to speak of, everyone was expecting Sony to come out all-guns blazing, announce a motherload of exclusive third party titles, announce first party titles like Ratchet and Clank and win everyone over. Well, that didn’t happen.
To be fair, they did show off cross-platform play for All-Stars Battle Royale, also announcing it for the PS Vita, and also announced Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation and Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified– new experiences built from scratch specifically for the Vita, also making use of its functionalities- but that was about it. They didn’t announce anything else. It’s like Sony wants the Vita to die. Unless they have something big planned for the handheld in the coming months, I don’t see how they will be able to recover from this properly. The rest of the conference was all about the PS3.
Now, even though many of the PS3 showing were far beyond excellent, one single showing was so boring, it brought down this conference’s score by at least half a point- the new WonderBook. It’s a sort of virtual reality app that allows players to read books and change their stories, using the PS Eye. Interesting concept, right? Well, it definitely would have seemed so if Sony hadn’t spent twenty freaking minutes on its demonstration. Those twenty minutes were indescribably boring. Sony could have shown it all in just 5 or 10 minutes and wrapped it up and moved on to focus on more core games, but they went ahead and bored our pants off with a awful presentation.
And then they showed off The Last of Us. The Last of Us alone saved Sony’s E3 conference. Sure, the rest of the demonstrations were really good, but it was The Last of Us that wowed one and all, with its mind blowing visuals that looked almost CG level, its superior animations and realistic voice acting and its oh-so thrilling gameplay. The entire demonstration was in-engine, none of it was pre-rendered, and nothing they showed was scripted. Everything- the dialogue, the action- was happening in accordance to the gameplay. It was, undoubtedly, the best showing of E3 2012.
By the time the conference ended, we did no remember the horrible Wonderbook demonstration. We had forgotten all about the disappearing acts, like The Last Guardian and PS Vita games. What we remembered were the excellent gameplay demo of The Last of Us and the thrilling reveal trailer of Beyond: Two Souls. Despite the fact that it had many flaws, Sony’s E3 conference turned out to be the best conference this year.
The Bad: Very little focus on the Vita; Sly 4, The Last Guardian and LittleBigPlaney Karting were missing in action; Not a lot of new announcements; WonderBook demonstration was awfully boring
The Good: The Last of Us demonstration was mind blowing; Beyond looks really good; All Stars Battle Royale seems interesting; Assassin’s Creed III’s gameplay was excellent; Exclusive DLC for AC3 and Far Cry 3; Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty for the Vita
Final Verdict: While the conference undoubtedly had many low moments, some spectacular gameplay demonstrations and an exciting new reveal alleviated it to an all new height, making it the best showing at this year’s E3.