Thursday, 13 June 2013

E3 - PlayStation 4 - Sony Strikes Back

No sooner had the dust settled after Microsoft's conference, it was Sony's turn at the bat. After weeks of debate over the Xbox One's restrictive policies on game ownership, used games and even privacy protection. It seemed that Sony wouldn't need to do much in order to take the upper hand.

Instead Sony blew the Xbox One out of the water.

The conference started by Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America as he thanked the gamers for making PlayStation the success it still is today. Then it was down to business and time to talk about the current generation.

First up was the PS Vita, a console close to my heart. Unfortunately, there was not much time for the Vita today and Vita owners will have to console themselves with the announcement of 85 games coming to the Vita, including Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, Counter-Spy, Killzone: Mercenary and Media Molecule's Tearaway. As well as these new titles, Sony are also hard at work porting more classics to the handheld. Titles like God Of War 1 & 2 HD, Final Fantasy X & X-2, Flower and Dead Nation.

That just left one Vita announcement left, Telltale's critical masterpieces, The Walking Dead is coming to VIta this August. This version will include all of Season One and also the brand new 400 Days DLC epsiode, which bridges season one to season two. There will also be a limited edition Vita bundle, featuring the console, the game and other bonus content.

Tretton moved on to PS3 and what to expect on the home console for the rest of the year. Leading with Naughty Dog's latest masterpiece, The Last of Us, released this Friday. Also, PlayStation 3 owners can expect Sony first part titles like Puppeteer, Rain, Beyond: Two Souls and Gran Turismo 6. As well as third party blockbusters like Batman: Arkham Origins, with PS3 owners reciving exclusive content in the shape of a Knightfall Batman and 60's TV Batman skins. Sony and Rockstart carry on their special relation ship and there will be a GTA V PS3 bundle, which also includes a custom GTA 5 Pulse headset and exclusive audio mode.

Time to move onto PS4, as Jack Tretton admitted that "PS3 was epically flawed at launch, but Sony carried on with the dream of a more immersive and innovative platform. PlayStation 4 represents what this vision will be built on."

Andrew House took to the stage to reveal the one thing that millions of fans around the world had been waiting to see... the PlayStation 4 console itself and here it is.

Although it initially looks like a black DVR, similar to the Xbox One, the PS4 is actually set at an angle. This makes it more Sci-Fi and next gen looking rather than a old VHS recorder. Stylish and sleek, just what you would expect from Sony these days. At least it doesn't look like a George Foreman grill this time.

Unfortunately, Sonys conference lost momentum almost immediately, when the head of Sony Entertainment and Sony Pictures turned up to talk about multimedia, music and video streaming on the PS4. Thankfully after the response to Microsoft's TV heavy reveal, last month. Sony kept this light and brief.

So it was back to the games and Shu Yoshida introduced the announcement of a brand new exclusive for PlayStation 4, from Ready At Dawn studios, the team behind both hugely successful God of War titles on the PSP. Their new game is The Order: 1886 a steam punk shooter set in Victorian London. The trailer depicts four knights(?) fighting off a horde of monsters in the Whitechapel district of London. Unfortunately, there are not other details available at this time, but initial look at the game suggests god things.

It was then time to focus on the four titles that were shown at the PS4 reveal back in February and see how they are coming along. First up was Killzone Shadow Fall.

Showing off some beautiful looking vistas and a huge difference from the futurisitic city we saw in February. Alos on show in the brief minute long trailer was a look at some of the weapons and a helpful drone who can help you out in sticky situations with shielding or even attacking the enemy directly.

Driveclub and Knack also seem to be both coming along nicely as well. Driveclub, I think, is overshadowed by the imminent PS3 release of Gran Turismo 6, but is looking to be a good looking racing game. Knack still looks like a playable Pixar movie and I cannot wait to get my hands on it at launch.

Finally, Infamous: Second Son is looking incredible. As a big fan of the original series on PS3 and being a huge sucker for an open world superhero romp, this game is high on my PS4 must have list. Also any game that uses Nirvana's Heart Shaped Box in their trailer is bound to win me over.

Moving on to third party gaming, particularly indie gaming. Adam Boyes introduced SuperGiant Games, creators of indie darling Bastion to show their next game that will be coming to PS4, Transistor. From the footage show it looks like a futuristic version of Bastion (which is a good thing). Sony then deliver their first swipe at Microsoft, with their continuing support for indie developers and allowing them to self publish their games onto PSN.

Then it was over to Square Enix for a peek at how Final Fantasy Versus XIII is coming along. Well it has changed quite abit. In fact it has changed so much it is now know as Final Fantasy XV (that's 15). Adopting a more cover based action combat system it is a change of direction for the series again and I am not sure if it will work.Never the less, it looks interesting and a welcome addition to the PS4 library.

Also Square Enix managed to make fans around the world pre order PS4's almost immediately, with the announcement of the long awaited Kingdom Hearts III.

After a demo of Assassin's Creed IV ended early due to technical problems, Watch_Dogs was back at E3 and the gameplay demo shown still makes this game one of the most anticipated games of 2013. PS3 and PS4 are both to recieve an extra 60 minutes of gameplay similar to the Assassins Creed III deal last year.

Then the surprise announcement, The Elder Scrolls: Online is coming to PlayStation 4 (and Xbox One,we found out later) and also the first beta of the game will be on PS4. Next up was Just Cause dev's new title, Mad Max. Yes that Mad Max! Its about time someone turned this amazing property into a video game and its finally happening in 2014.

Then it was the moment we were waiting for. Jack Tretton talked about the thing on everyone's minds. The Sony PlayStation 4 supports used games. To say the crowd went wild was a understatement. This also means that I now get embed this amazing video explaining how it all works on PS4.

Then, Tretton quickly followed this up with the fact the PS4 will not require a online check in to play games. The crowd went wild again and somewhere in the distance you could almost hear the Microsoft execs crying. Jack wasn't finished  yet though. He went on to confirm that your PlayStation Plus subscription carries over to PS4 and entitles you to all the same benefits that you have enjoyed on PS3 and Vita. The only thing is that if you want to play online multiplayer on PS4 you need to be a Plus subscriber. To be honest, bearing in mind the amount of other benefits you get with the Plus subscription, its hardly a deal breaker.

Bearing in mind that Plus subscribers who get a PS4 can immediately download Driveclub PS Plus edition straight away as the first PS4 title to join the Instant Game Collection.

All that was left was to reveal the price. The PS4 will cost $399/399 euros or £349. Thats £80 cheaper than the Xbox One and it was in my opinion the killer blow to Microsoft's Xbone. Sony won E3 in spectactular style and to celebrate they invited Bungie to give a gameplay demo or Destiny on PS4.

Wow! Destiny is incredible and I am sold on Destiny and PS4. I just said that Sony won E3, thats not true. Gamers won E3 and it feels great.

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