Sony E3 2012 Press Conference Performance Review
Yesterday’s Sony conference has come and gone for another year and as customary, gamers are weighing up the positives and negatives of the show to judge how successful they were. The loveable Jack Tretton was the evenings compère and as always did a great job with little hesitations and a constant humbling attitude which always empowers the audience, overall creating a much more informal showing than last years stat-marathon. So, how did Sony do overall then? To help us decide what their final grade should be, we have broken the conference into different sections with an overall grade and at the end, the whole conference will be given a definite verdict. So, lets get reviewing!
Games = A
The conference was bookended by two incredible looking Sony exclusives in the form of Quantic Dreams new project Beyond: Two Souls and Naughty Dogs post-apocalyptic The Last Of Us. Both games received overwhelming response and with little surprise, they look amazing. Hollywood starlet Ellen Page seamlessly bought our intriguing new protagonist Jodie Holmes alive in Beyond: Two Souls with a trailer that showcased the facial animations and emotionally charged scenes. With a fascinating concept and idea behind the game with ‘what happens when we die?’, David Cage, the mastermind at Quantic Dream seemed to once again capture the audiences imagination. Likewise, the first demo for The Last Of Us was meet with raucous applause and cheering as the brutal combat, eye melting graphics and spot on voice acting reassured the audience that Naughty Dog have another hit on their hands. Unlike ND’s beloved Uncharted, The Last Of Us shows a main character with raw violence, his ‘silent take downs’ were messy and his melee was so intense that we felt uneasy even watching it. The Last Of Us’ demo was fantastic and simply made every Sony fanboy jump out of their seat; if The Last Of Us doesn’t turn out to be a GOTY contender, I will not only eat my hat, but also my face, much like the brain-munching zombies!
However it was not just the two bookends that give Sony an A in this section, in between all the emotionally draining experience were gore fest God of War Ascension and Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale as well as new footage of Assassins Creed III and Far Cry 3. It was great to see Sony getting third party companies such as Ubisoft onto the stage as usually, Sony conferences have relied heavily on their first party partnerships. Assassin Creeds POTC inspired galleon fighting looked like an intriguing chapter whilst Far Cry’s co-op mode was fun and manic. Overall, Sony made an incredibly solid showing in terms of both exclusives and multi-plat games and with a wide range of genre’s covered, including the staple ’family fun’ cheese-fest, they have most bases covered. One reason why Sony do not receive the elusive A+ though is the sad lack of mention of The Last Guardian, Overstrike or even a new Sucker Punch game which slightly disappointed a highly expecting fan like me.
This section takes into account the quality of actual content, so game demo’s, quality of presentation and clarity of information are all judged. Although the presenters are talking infront of huge crowds and I understand it must be very brick-inducing, a hestating, stuttering, sweating wreck creates an overall negative tone to their whole presentation. Luckily, every presenter at Sony’s conference spoke with great clarity and there were no huge slip ups. Notable mentions would go to the Wonderbook presenter and Playstaion Mobile representative Andrew House. When Tretton went on his usual fare regarding PSN stats it wasnt too tedious and offered clear information that could actually be translated and most importantly, actually meant something.
Occasionally a conference can be jam packed full of exciting trailers but never any gameplay and when this occurs, enthusiasm dwindles. Obviously Sony realised this and 2012′s show was very successfull in terms of ‘proper’ glimpses at games. Gameplay footage from AC III, God of War, Far Cry and The Last of Us all kept the audience interested and more excited at the thought that they could be playing the very games before there eyes in nearby booths. Sadly, Beyond: Two Souls only consisted of a trailer but taking into account the early stages, it was acceptable. What was not overly acceptable though was the huge slot given to WonderBook and the Book of Spells. Whilst interesting and box-ticking, the 20 minute demonstration simply bored the audience and sadly, many lost concentration and resorted to Angry Birds. Sony pleased the audience with in game footage, well rehearsed presenters and bare bone statistics but the painfully long Wonderbook demonstration heavily dented the middle of the conference creating a dip in interest.
Prior to E3 rumours of next gen consoles by both Microsoft and Sony were swarming in the air, but sadly nothing appeared. I wasn’t expecting a fully fledged reveal and demonstration but a simple nod would have been greatly appreciated and would have sent the world into hyper drive. The lack of even a sniff slightly tainted the conference but not enough to destroy all hope and excitement. The PS Vita was surprisingly, left out of the limelight along with the Move. Whilst they did have sections dedicated to them, neither part was overly long or matched with any major announcements. Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale was confirmed for Vita and cross platform play was revelaed but in terms of a hardware grade, this has little influence.
The only real announcement regarding hardware would have been the new crystal white Vita shown in the trailer for Assassins Creed: Liberation and its encompassing bundle due for release later this year. It may not have caused the internet to implode with excitement but a new white Vita is……..nice. I was disappointed to see an overall lack of new Vita bundles that would have reduced the steep price tag to something more affordable; I really feel Sony missed out on a huge opportunity here. In terms of the Move, Sony seemed to avoid any major announcements apart from the integration in a few games. The biggest reveal was the new Wonderbook but to be truthfully honest, claiming it is going to ‘revolutionise the book’ is slightly over-the-top. It looks like another expensive piece of tech that will be used once and then clog up your living room, but as optimism never hurts, it could prove me wrong and be a huge hit. All in all, Sony’s conference severely lacked any major hardware announcements with mundane ideas such as the Wonderbook that simply make us ask the question ‘are Sony working on PS4 or not?!’
Whilst a showing could be dense with demo’s, trailers, poor acting and dull screens of numbers, without excitement, a showing can never take off. E3 revolves around an insane amount of hype and anticipation and to truly succeed and ‘win’ E3, you have to inject the right amount of teasers, fan service and footage to create a brain exploding drug of excitement. Sony did not cause faces to melt in their conference but they certainly conjured enough excitement to satisfy the audience and to leave them with strong desires to jump at their games.
It was an extremely clever move to start and finish with two epic exclusives that have been highly anticipated by not only PS3 owners but the overall gaming community. When Tretton introduced David Cage to the stage (Fiddy is in the building!), the crowd went berserk and people shook with anticipation to see what his next revolutionary project could be. The trailer offered a perfect amount of Quantic Dream emotion, tension and also some much needed action. Likewise, the demo for The Last Of Us came right at the end and through its gritty survival gameplay that seemed to truly move the audience with its pure uncensored and raw brutality, it made a huge impact that left the audiences hearts pumping with intrigue. Other games such as God of War and Assassins Creed received well rounded responses too. Whereas the God of War demo may have been overly long and lacked any showing of significant improvements, Assassins Creed III once again absorbed the audience in and even surprised them with a very unexpected chapter in the what-we-thought storyline.
Compared to the other companies, Sony’s formality and copious amounts of statistics usually make their conferences subdued and only occasionally do the audience become genuinely excited. Ignoring the sagging of the middle 8 in terms of Wonderbook, Sony’s 2012 conference conjured enough anticipation through well constructed structure with exclusive bookending and as a result, the audience were left with a smile on their face and more importantly, a burning desire to get their mitts on the awesome games showcased.
Mr Tretton and his fellow Sony counterparts seemed to have learnt form their prolonged showing last year that was sparse with genuine exciting announcements and moments. In 2012, they created a very dense conference that included many awesome looking games with solid footage whilst also making it very streamlined and well paced with the perfectly controlled order. There is no denying that the wrist-slitting demonstration of Wonderbook and Book of Spells may have induced many sleepy heads, but the pace was quickly picked back up and from then on, excitement was sustained and the constant stream of great looking games kept interest. The lack of PS4 and major reduction of stage time for Vita and Move may have damaged Sony in terms of the much desired sales, but for us gamers who were looking forward to the games, it was a perfect conference that simply reassured us that next year is going to be outstanding, whether you’re on PS3 or not.