Tuesday 11 June 2013

Today's Review: Sony's E3 Conference

With Microsoft's far less than stellar performance in their conference, it wouldn't have taken much to heavily sway me over to the PS4 camp. There was still a chance that they'd try to pull the same kind of dick moves that Microsoft have regarding used games and always (or almost always) on connectivity. At least I still had the Wii-U to fall back on in case that happened.

Thankfully I was massively rewarded for staying up between 2 and 4am to watch the live broadcast. It started off a little slowly, focusing on PS3 and Vita titles that are still to come, but clearly there is a lot to be excited about with universally acclaimed The Last Of Us out this week, and several big names coming out before the end of the year. There were also a couple of interesting teasers for Puppeteer and Rain, which certainly look a lot better than your average crowd pleasing FPS games.

But with all that out of the way, it was time to unveil the PS4:

Certainly an odd looking machine, but hey, it's what's inside that counts, right? Thankfully, apart from a few words about the entertainment and Playstation Network features, a whole lot of games were introduced. We got a first look at a new IP that seems to be a main focus, The Order: 1886. Looks like a steam punk monster werewolf shooting romp. Looks fun, certainly more so than Ryse did on XBox One. We also got an exclusive gameplay demo of Destiny, a game that's going to be on both platforms, but with Bungie behind it I'm inclined to pick it up. Ubisoft turned up to provide us with some not-quite-functioning demos of Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed IV, all standard fare for these kind of conferences, and while it was nice to see the games in action, I already know quite a bit about them. I wanted to see some new stuff, dammit.

Sony certainly didn't disappoint on that front. After skimming over their first party exclusives like Killzone and Infamous quite quickly, there seemed to be a massive shift in focus away from AAA titles and more towards independent developers and the offerings that will be available on PSN. There was a fantastically arranged display of developers playing their games, introducing some truly awesome titles like the next Octodad, Don't Starve, and an HD remake of Abe's Oddyssey that all got me very excited. The next game from Bastion developers Supergiant Games was on show as well, and the whole focus on these smaller titles really showed that Sony is going to take care of the core gamers who want to keep experiencing new and original games.

The best game news of the event for me though was the announcement of Kingdom Hearts 3, which pretty much made the PS4 a must buy for me. So with me already sold, the last part of the conference was really just icing on the cake. Any fears about the PS4 following the same stupid guidelines as the XBox One were confronted head on and dispelled, with a clear statement that games can be played offline, traded in, sold, whatever you like. That got the biggest cheer of the night, but while I don't see how not placing crippling restrictions on your console is so praiseworthy, it really served to highlight how much people are against Microsoft's policies, and how bleak things are looking for the XBox One. With an announced price point $100 lower than XBox, and the gameplay demo for Destiny shown as if to say "We've even got Bungie games now, suck on that Microsoft", it seems that Sony did no wrong during this presentation. They showcased big name titles, as well as new, original, and smaller games that really piqued my interest. Functions and policies were explained simply and effectively, and some neat new features on the entertainment side were introduced, but not massively hyped. Even if they managed to breeze past the fact that online play will require a paid subscription, I'm not even mad. I've seen the merits of PS+ over the last few months, and I'm well prepared to pay for it once I pick up the PS4. Bravo, Sony, bravo.

My rating: 5/5

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