Ubisoft was a top act to follow, but Sony did a decent job with their E3 conference. It reminded me a lot of Microsoft’s earlier in the day–some great games, but some boring stretches, too. Things started off predictably enough, with a montage that went on for about 10 minutes. Bucking traditional Sony trend, however, there were no braggadocios statistics being discussed/shown in graph form. So, that’s something.
First up was the reveal of Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream’s new game, Beyond. The game may also be subtitled Two Souls, but that might also just be the game’s tagline; I’m not sure. In any case, the game was leaked earlier in the day, as was actress Ellen Page’s involvement. A video of the game introduced us to the protagonist, who interacts with a spirit/ghost. She is being interrogated by a police officer before a S.W.A.T. team arrives. Nothing was revealed about the story or gameplay of Beyond.
Next up was PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Cross play functionality between the PS3 and newly-revealed Vita versions of the game was announced, as was the introduction of two new characters–Nathan Drake from Uncharted and a Big Daddy from BioShock. Battle Royale didn’t impress me at all; it looks like a boring Super Smash Bros. clone, with the twist being that characters can only be killed by super moves. Normal moves only charge up the super meter, which has three levels of power. Unfortunately, there was absolutely no way to tell the score or who was winning during the game, making for a confusing experience. Even one of the developers playing the game didn’t know who was winning the match. Hm, maybe you should fix that for the final release?
Next, Sony talked about PlayStation Plus, PlayStation certified smartphones, and other boring stuff. Then came the requisite bomb of the briefing; the Wonderbook. The dumb idea behind this is to make books that then have some functionality with the PS3 and the Move controller. Why not just read a real book or play a real video game? Things got even worse–much worse–with a demo of the J.K. Rowling written book/game thing about learning spells. The concept was dumb to begin with, but maybe Sony can at least afford to get someone who’s halfway decent at the game to demo it next time? The one lady demoing it was absolutely terrible; she couldn’t even draw a Z with the Move controller. Had she ever played the game before? The demo dragged on and on, made worse by her incompetence. On the bright side, it was kind of funny seeing her fail so miserably, so it was at least more entertaining than the Nike disaster at Microsoft’s conference earlier.
The two Vita exclusive games discussed were Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (a compliment to the console game starring a female protagonist that looked to feature muddy graphics) and Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified, the latter of which we learned nothing about. No price cut was announced for the Vita, and what was shown wasn’t enough to create hype for the struggling handheld. Sony could have done much better here.
Thankfully, things got back on track with a surprising demo of Assassin’s Creed III that focused on naval combat. Yes, you read that right; naval combat. The demo shown was stunning and a huge surprise–this game looks better and better. Not looking so good after its incredible singleplayer demo earlier in the night was Far Cry 3. A new co-op demo was shown that featured four players shooting at enemies and doing some objectives. It was unspectacular and kind of boring; the complete opposite of the amazing campaign footage seen earlier.
God of War: Ascension got a lengthy (some would say too lengthy, but they’re wrong) demo next. The graphics are even better than God of War III‘s, and Ascension seems to contain the same brand of violent combat seen in previous installments. It didn’t blow me away, but it looked like a heck of a lot of fun, nonetheless.
Sony, of course, saved the best for last. The Last of Us got a thrilling demo that showed why Naughty Dog is ahead of the pack (heh) in terms of development talent. The same internal team within Naughty Dog that made the phenomenal Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is developing The Last of Us, and it showed in every second of the demo. The Last of Us looks to combine the best elements of Uncharted 2–graphics, animation, polish, fun–with the interesting ideas of Ubisoft’s failed experiment I Am Alive and the sheer terror of Resident Evil and Dead Space. If anything, The Last of Us looks scarier than either Resident Evil 6 or Dead Space 3–and we haven’t even seen the game’s horrifying infected enemies in action yet.
I could gush on and on about The Last of Us demo. It was gorgeous. It was shocking. It was brutal. It was scary. It was creative. It was emotionally engaging. I couldn’t hear any of the dialog since G4 decided to give up on censoring the profanity and just censored everything. The Last of Us represents the very best that gaming has to offer. In all honesty, it looked better than even the mighty Uncharted franchise ever has. I have my game of the year award ready and waiting for this one. If you aren’t excited about The Last of Us, it’s because you haven’t seen the demo yet. Go watch it right now.