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Sony's Pre-E3 2011 Media Briefing Summary

by Thomas Wilde on June 7, 2011 @ 4:00 a.m. PDT

During Sony's Pre-E3 2011 Media Briefing, it presented new coverage for BioShock Infinite, Dust 514, NBA 2K11, Resistance 3, Uncharted 3, and the PlayStation Vita, its pricing and its planned lineup (Dynasty Warriors, LittleBigPlanet, Street Fighter X Tekken, etc.).

June 6, 2011, 5:00 PM
Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena

The real reason I'm here is to see what they'll do about the PSN outages this year. I figure there's even money on apologizing, making fun of themselves (with or without Kevin Butler), or ignoring it completely and focusing entirely on how ungodly awesome their lineup is. The last one's not incredibly likely, but given how Sony's theme for the last few years has largely been "delusions of grandeur," it is a possibility.

The carnival-esque pre-show was comparatively extravagant, with a bunch of gourmet food trucks, a mock-up of Sweet Tooth's truck from Twisted Metal, and a DJ. There was a poster for Uncharted 3, but otherwise, one could be forgiven for not realizing this was an E3 event at all. They're also giving out 3-D glasses at the door, as they did last year, and repeatedly reminded people to put them on as they prepared to start the show.

5:15 PM
To the usual, strangely thunderous applause, the show begins with a low drumming sound. The PS logo appears on-screen as they start a trailer, showing off the new PSP and the PS line of products: 3D World, Mortal Kombat, God of War, Uncharted 3, Resistance 3, Green Lantern, the NGP, the Move and its software lineup.

Captain America, Sonic Generations, Twisted Metal, Transformers, Ratchet & Clank, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Frank West, Ninja Gaiden, InFamous 2

Oh, the PSN logo and all the great things about the PSN. I would not have thought they'd do this. Anyway, it's the usual pre-show trailer showing off all the great PS3/PSP games you can look forward to as a fan of the line. They do this every year.

5:20 PM
Tagline: Sony, "Make believe."

Jack Tretton, President and CEO of SCEA, comes onstage. "This isn't the first time I've come onstage at a press conference with an elephant in the room." Taking it head-on with an air of humility, which is probably the best approach possible. I wouldn't have expected that. "To all our esteemed members in the press, I say," because apparently we editors and writers are all incredibly amused by bad news, "'You're welcome.' To our third-party publishing partners ... what's been incredibly inspiring is your support ... so I thank you very much."

PlayStation 3's sales numbers last month were up 27% over the previous year. "You [consumers] are the lifeblood of the company. Without you, there is no PlayStation... I know we took you away from what you enjoy most... it is you that causes us to be both humble and amazed at the support you continue to give the PlayStation brand."

Discussing more about why being on the PlayStation Network rocks: hulu, Netflix, etc. He's renewing their commitment to the PSN, and announces a new partnership with CinemaNow. "...we're going to keep adding industry-defining services to PlayStation Network..."

5:26 PM
"...and one franchise that's become synonymous with the PS3... is Uncharted."

Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra from Naughty Dog take the stage to discuss Uncharted 3. "We're raising the bar for ourselves yet again."

In the gameplay trailer, Drake is standing on the rainy top deck of an old cruise liner and jumps the rail, landing near an empty pool. He's off-balance and staggering around, and then sneaks inside a nearby bar. He stealth-kills an armed guard, sneaks down to the floor and takes out another guy. The music is low, ominous guitar chords as Drake goes outside and gets the drop on another guard, illuminated by a single bleak light bulb. Drake's back inside the ship, sneaking down the hall, and waits at the corner for another patrolling guard. It's dark, fast and grimy as hell; it definitely looks good, but Uncharted always did.

In the ship's cargo hold, Drake leaps to a handhold and drops down to the floor. Suddenly he's surrounded by gunmen, but he punches out the guy who comes to tie him up, steals a grenade, throws it, and gets to cover. The explosion blew a hole in the wall, and the ship's now listing hard and flooding. Drake shoots his way out, using a new melee kill where he yanks a guy's grenade pin, before tumbling into the water and swimming for it.

The ship's now tilting hard to the side, to the point where the door is now in the floor, and Drake scrambles "up" a stairwell before a falling chunk of the ship pins him to the floor, which is actually the wall. Water rushes over him and, in a QTE, he pushes it off and breaks the surface. The whole ship's now flooded, and he needs to swim to safety before he runs out of air. After a long underwater swim, he manages to make it to a part of the ship that isn't flooded yet, right before a bulkhead pops and it floods ... and this ends the demo.

5:33 PM
June 28: Uncharted 3 multiplayer demo, and in October, you can go to Subway to get early access to the entire multiplayer game before it hits in November. Apparently ordering a large drink gets you in.

5:34 PM
A 3-D sample of Uncharted 3, requiring the glasses they gave us. Drake's being menaced by Helen Mirren with a switchblade!

Drake and Sully are once again on Francis Drake's trail, which leads to the "Atlantis of the sands" in Arabia. The villain du jour appears to be an older woman who "just wants what's [hers]," and who is totally Helen Mirren. Chloe appears to be back, and so's Elena.

Release date: 11/1/11.

5:36 PM
Tretton introduces Insomniac, and Marcus Smith, to talk about Resistance 3.

In August, 1957, humans are facing extinction at the hands of the Chimera. The last Sentinel, Joseph Capelli, is going on a last-ditch strike against the Chimera in what used to be New York City, traveling across America to do it. Tonight's demo is set in St. Louis, where Capelli has run into a resistance group that calls itself the Remnants.

Missile strikes take down a Chimera hovercraft, and Capelli shoots flaming Chimera as they drop out of the ship ... and then perfectly fine Chimera who come in as a second wave. He's using a rifle, a shotgun, and some kind of electric-arc weapon, as the Remnants scream at him and one another over their radio. The personal force field and Auger are both back, along with incendiary grenades and a revolver.

"A short while later," the ambush has gone to hell, and it's time to run away. St. Louis is a burning, crumbling ruin, and what's not on fire is getting rained on. Capelli and one of the Remnants are racing to their safehouse as a massive Chimera war machine is smashing things trying to get to them ... and it gets lucky, ripping out the entire building they're standing on. That's the end of the demo.

5:41 PM
They're releasing a Resistance 3 Sharpshooter Bundle on Sept. 6, with a Sharpshooter, the game, a Move, a Move controller for $150.

God of War Origins Collection: a remastered 3-D collection of the PSP games.
The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection: remastered in high definition and 3-D.

Both available in September.

5:43 PM
"We're going to break the mold on 3-D pricing this year..." The PlayStation-branded 3-D monitor, a 24" display designed to provide affordable access to 3-D entertainment, "perfect for dorm rooms." There's also a new feature that allows two players to see two entirely different full-player screens without having to use split-screen, to make local co-op easier.

5:44 PM
This fall, the PlayStation 3-D Monitor is bundled with a pair of glasses, a copy of Resistance 3, and a six-foot HDMI cable, all for $499. The glasses alone are $69.99. They're trying very hard to broaden the 3-D €market.

5:46 PM
Move sold 8.8 million units since launch. They're calling it a "tremendous success," and Tretton introduces Chris Snyder and Erick Boenisch from 2K Sports.

NBA 2K11 sold seven million copies and won 21 industry awards. Now they're introducing NBA On the Move, which lets you pass to a player by pointing the Move at him and pulling the trigger.

"More realism, more polish..." They're trying to make the most accessible possible simulation of basketball, and have invited Kobe Bryant onstage to demonstrate how easy it is to pick this up and play it. "So realistic it's frightening," according to Kobe.

NBA 2K11 is coming Oct. 4.

5:51 PM
Tretton welcomes Umrao Mayer from Zindagi Games and Jeremy Ray from SCEA to discuss Medieval Moves: Deadmund's Quest, a new Move game in 3-D. It's a Zelda-esque dungeon crawler that you play as a skeleton swordsman.

Deadmund is in first-person, sort of, and goes from swordplay to archery to blocking strictly with motion controls. There's no inventory screen; drawing back the arrow in the bow is done with a comparative motion. The emphasis is on player choice and moving smoothly from one gameplay option to another. It's coming out this fall.

5:57 PM
"There's no question that PlayStation Move brings something unique to the table for everybody." ...really? It's getting an "Extended Cut" on House of the Dead: Overkill, so there's that.

5:58 PM
Here comes InFamous 2, even though it's shipping tomorrow. This fall, however, they'll be adding "unique user-created missions," allowing you to play through other users' custom missions in InFamous 2 using the Move.

6:00 PM
Also, starting in September, there'll be added Move capabilities to Little Big Planet 2, allowing you to use Move functionality in your own created levels.

6:01 PM
From the team that created Warhawk, LightBox Interactive and Sony Santa Monica, it's Starhawk. Warhawk in the future with transforming vehicles? A jet turns into a two-legged battlemech, vehicles are air-dropped into the middle of a battle, and "every day is a fight for survival" on the "new frontier."

6:02 PM
In the long-awaited return of a franchise that was begun in 2002, there's apparently a new Sly Cooper game on the way. Tretton introduces a trailer, showing Sly in cartoon-style as he runs away from the police, accompanied by very "Pink Panther"-ish music.

— oh, wait. Nice fake-out. It's not Sly; it's a lizard I don't recognize, but it is a Sly game, Thieves in Time, coming in 2012.

6:04 PM
CCP's CEO, Hilmar Pëtursson, comes onstage to talk about things in an occasionally impenetrable accent. He's announcing Dust 514, a persistent shooter, as a PlayStation 3 exclusive. It combines with EVE Online cross-platform, supports the Move, has a dedicated Home space, and comes out next summer.

The people in Dust are all wearing incredibly evil-looking full-body armor and flying around in black hovercrafts; they look like the Stormtroopers and the U.N. black helicopters had a baby and raised it on conspiracy paranoia. It's a squad-styled FPS.

"They told us we had no chance ... that we were fools to even try. ...I only judge what you can afford. Pay my price and I'll strike down the heavens." You're one of an army of mercenaries fighting to bring down an empire. "They will remember us, and they'll remember what happened here."

Wait, are you fighting some kind of war that'll take place in EVE? That's weirdly ballsy. I'm not sure anything like it's ever quite been done before, if I've got it right.

It'll enter closed beta at the end of 2011, with a full release planned for the spring of 2012.

6:09 PM
"Promise me, if it comes to it, that you will not let him take me back."

Some kind of first-person platformer/shooter where you're fighting to protect a woman, sliding along rails — oh, it's BioShock Infinite. Huh. I haven't been following it, and would not have guessed that if you'd paid me.

6:11 PM
Hey, everyone, it's Ken Levine from Irrational Games, here to accept this year's Gabe Newell Award for walking back public statements: "...I did an interview a few months ago... and in this interview, I expressed some skepticism about the very concept of motion control. I may have said some uncharitable things about the PlayStation Move." Then Sony called him for a phone meeting, and said, "We want to make you a believer."

They sent over a Move in an attempt to change Levine's mind on the ways in which it could be used, and cynically, I find myself wondering just how many hundreds were wrapped around said Move. Anyway, Kevine got some ideas on its use, and now a "pet project" of Irrational's set in the BioShock universe will be appearing eventually on the NGP.

6:14 PM
Just to sweeten the pot, because that's what Sony does now, if you buy BioShock Infinite on the PS3, you get a free copy of BioShock.

6:16 PM
As a tie-in with the next J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie, Bad Robot is working on a co-op action title starring the new Star Trek actors, with Kirk and Spock recognizable and on-screen. It'll come along with a Move peripheral shaped like a "Star Trek" phaser, and a free prequel game on the PlayStation Network; all of this will release around the same time as the next movie, in 2012.

6:17 PM
Electronic Arts is offering three exclusive deals for their titles' PS3 versions.

  • SSX on PS3 has an exclusive stage set on Mount Fuji, modeled on satellite footage of the real mountain.
  • Need for Speed: The Run on PS3 comes with an extra Blu-ray disc that contains seven exclusive supercars.
  • Battlefield 3 on PS3 comes with a free copy of Battlefield 1943 installed on the disc.

6:20 PM
Kaz Hirai takes the stage, and as usual, I have to fight back the urge to yell, "RIDGE RAAAAAAAACER!" at the top of my voice. I never made claims to possess startling maturity.

He's here to talk about the "new 10-year vision" from a few years ago, when the big battle in the console war was to control the consumer's living room as an entertainment hub. Now they're changing their battle plan based upon what's been happening lately, and they're grateful to the fans that have both supported them and showed them the way.

Now that some smartphones can handle "PlayStation-level content," Hirai announces the PlayStation Suite, with more information coming soon; it's an app for phones like the Android that is meant to lead phone gamers over to the NGP and PS3, like a trail of bread crumbs or something.

6:23 PM
Hirai announces the NGP's official name is the "Vita." It means "life" and is named thus because it is meant to blur the lines between entertainment and real life.

The Vita ships with front and rear touch-screens, two analog sticks, SixAxis tilt controls, front and rear cameras, and a heavy focus on social networking, with AT&T as their exclusive carrier in North America. (This is perhaps the least popular announcement at the show. Sony E3 events are packed to the rafters with Sony fanboys, to the point where big announcements are met with lunatic applause, and even with that in mind, the AT&T announcement went over like a case of the clap. Bad move, Sony.)

You can set up a party chat, allowing you and your friends to talk over headsets regardless of where they are or what games you're all playing. Vita also ships with a function called Street Pass, err, I mean Near, which allows you to meet up with and connect with nearby Vita users.

6:25 PM
Scott Rohde, senior VP of development, comes onstage to give a demo for Uncharted: Golden Abyss, a Nathan Drake game for the Vita. It looks a lot like an Uncharted game on the PS3, just slightly blurrier and darker; imagine a late-gen, top-shelf PS2 game.

Rohde mentions they've been working on the Vita for about two years now. You can play the game using the Uncharted controls from the PS3, entirely by tapping the touch-screen, or with a combination of the two. Tapping a gun icon makes Drake pick it up or shoot it; tapping an enemy launches an attack; tapping a distant ledge makes Drake jump to it. You can also "paint the edge," drawing a line along a series of handholds and leaving Drake to move along them entirely on his own.

6:34 PM
The next game's working title is Ruin, and basically, it looks a whole hell of a lot like Torchlight. It's a "social action-RPG," viewed in an isometric style, with all the trappings thereof; the character in the demo is an "infernal warrior," an all-out offensive melee fighter with an ax the size of his torso.

Other players in Ruins are viewed as your rivals, and you can opt to help, hinder or harm them directly. In the demo, the dungeon that the player's invading is actually another player's lair, so you can actually build up your own space to get explored and utterly looted by other players.

Ruin shares a "cloud" with a planned PS3 version of itself, so if you want, you can save and quit the Vita game, and then immediately take up where you left off on the PS3.

6:40 PM
The Mod Nation Racers team is back, making another game for the Vita that shares connectivity with the other versions.

(Full disclosure: I left the room at this point.)

6:45 PM
The Vita is getting a Little Big Planet game. It'll have all the features from LBP2, and you can share costumes between the Vita and PS3. You can also use the Vita's features to create new games, including the touch-screen, tilt controls, pass and play, "multi-touch" (shown being used to play something a lot like air hockey, with two players on one Vita), the online mode, and the rear touch-screen.

6:48 PM
Yoshinori Ono comes out on stage with a translator to announce a planned version of Street Fighter X Tekken (the "X" is apparently pronounced "cross") for the Vita. Sagat and Julia Chang are shown up on the big screen, albeit not in action, which may confirm their inclusion in the roster.

The big Sony announcement is that Cole McGrath from Infamous 2 will be in the Vita SKU as a playable character. We get to see about 30 seconds of gameplay, showing Ryu and Ken vs. Cole and Kazuya, including one of Cole's supers; unfortunately, Ono's holding the Vita at a bad angle and won't stand still, so it's hard to say what the hell I just saw.

6:50 PM
A bunch of short trailers are shown in a row, including a planned Dynasty Warriors for Vita, Hot Shots Golf, Virtua Tennis, and a create-your-own fighter game with the working title of Reality Fighters.

6:56 PM
Kaz Hirai's back onstage to announce that all of the planned features of the Vita will be accessible by the holiday season of this year, which is hard not to see as a vague slam at Nintendo and the 3DS. More importantly, he announces the prices for the two models of the Vita.

The Wi-Fi-only version will retail for US$249.99 (€249, 24,980¥), while the 3G/Wi-Fi version is $50 (€50, 5,000¥) more.

That effectively closes out the show. All in all, it was a great deal more humble than I was expecting, and we didn't have to watch Kevin Butler doing something stupid. Not bad, all told, although I wonder why Twisted Metal is apparently a no-show.

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